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Second Shift: How a fashion designer makes ends meet

TABii Just designer Tabitha St. Bernard tells Metro how a fashion designer makes a living in New york City.

Tabitha St. Bernard Tabitha St. Bernard got inspired to start her fashion line after taking classes at F.I.T.
Credit: Provided

We all know living in a city is expensive. How does the average person make it work? Our Second Shift series features people working more than one job to make ends meet. This week, meet Tabitha, a fashion designer who also blogs and works with people with special needs. If you want to be featured, email emily.laurence@metro.us.

Name: Tabitha St. Bernard
Age: 31
Home: Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York
Lives with: Husband
Number of jobs: 3

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You are a fashion designer. Tell me about your fashion line.

I started TABii Justabout a year and a half ago. It's a women's clothing label that focuses on conscious consumerism. There is zero fabric waste and everything is made locally. I do it all myself out of my apartment, although I have a board of advisers who help me with parts of the business I don't know that much about.

And you also have two other jobs?

Yes. My fashion line is my main focus, but I work two flexible jobs on the side. One is as a [style] blogger, which I do from home unless I have an event I have to go to. I can pretty much choose the events I want to cover according to what works for my schedule. My third job is working with people with special needs. I have a caseload of 25 cases. I do face-to-face check-ins quarterly and phone call check-ins [sporadically].

That job is so different from your fashion career and blogging. How did you get into it?

I came to this country about 12 years ago on an academic scholarship, which gave me free college tuition. In college, I discovered psychology. I love exploring the mind and how people think. After graduation, I needed a job to keep my green card, and that's when I started working for this agency. I was full-time and they sponsored me, though somewhere along the way I got married and my green card requirements changed.

When I was 25, I started taking classes at the New School and the Fashion Institute of Technology. I just fell in love with fashion from an academic standpoint. I started going to FIT full-time and working at the agency part-time, which is what I continue to do. They've been really supportive and it's been nice having a steady source of income.

Are you still passionate about psychology and your job in that field, or are you hoping you'll be able to quit at some point?

Right now I like it because it helps keep me grounded. What I'm doing with my fashion line is very important because it's eco-fashion; but with this job, I have conversations with parents about real world issues, like how public schools can better serve children with special needs. The money has also been nice since all the money I make from TABii Just goes right back into the line. The dream is to one day focus only on my line, but I know with that will come additional responsibilities, and my life will completely change.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

 
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