The Socialista exclusive; Tiah Knox

LUCK IS WHEN PREPARATION MEETS OPPORTUNITY

Youma- It is a great privilege to conduct an exclusive interview with such a phenomenal woman like yourself. Having done a little research about you, I’ve come to realize that you are a very successful young lady with great achievements, which boosted my interest to interview you for Fashion 911. First off, I would like to know a little bit about your origin – who is Tiah?

Tiah- Thank you very much, I really appreciate this opportunity. It is always a great pleasure when a reputable journalist wants to know more about my work, myself and basically what I have been doing in the industry. I was born in Liberia and my father is the late president of Liberia, Samuel K Doe. During the war, my mother and I moved to Sierra Leone, where I grew up. I also lived in Guinea for some time before I came to the US. Basically, I have been all over Africa.

– Wow! I never knew you were the daughter of the late president of Liberia. Well, I am a bit curious and would like to know more about the story behind your success, seeing as a lot of people have been writing about your work and great achievements. It is not an easy road getting to where you are today especially being a black woman and sometimes you come across some obstacles and challenges that want to make you quit. What is the story behind your great success?

– Well this all started when I started modelling professionally as a plus size model in 2005. It was hard at first but got better, and I started building my confidence as time went on. I became the first African to win the MISS FULL FIGURED USA beauty pageant in 2011, right after I graduated from college, which was a great achievement for me.
I pursued a degree program in fashion and briefly after my graduation, I knew that I didn’t just want to remain as a fashion designer but was mostly curious about the business-aspect of fashion. I then took a step forward and formed another company geared towards helping businesses that are interested in working with the fashion industry and things got better and better since then. Prior to that, I formed my first company called LE PLATINUM STYLE PRODUCTIONS when I was only 17 years old. It was a consulting company, basically working with start-up companies that were interested in fashion and working closely with designers and the media. In 2014 we formed an organization called Sierra Leone Fashion and Art Council to help build the fashion industry in Sierra Leone and the diaspora.

– Amazing. Starting a company at the age of 17 shows you were very hard-working and ambitious already in your teenage years. This surprises me a bit though, because I read an article saying you were homeless for several years. Having started the company already at 17 suggests your homeless days must have been way back. At what point of your life did this take place?

– What you read is a fact. I was homeless while living in Guinea and Sierra Leone at a very young age with my mother and my two sisters. I came to America when I was about 15 years old.

– Well, that is rather unfortunate. Thank God it is part of history and merely a story you are telling today. In another article I read, I came across these words of wisdom by you. “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity”. Is this something you have experienced or just a belief you have?

– Well, I initially heard it from Oprah but I am not sure who the original author is. My work and experience from an early age has prepared me to now form this new Fashion and Arts Council, where we are currently in the process of being officially endorsed by the Republic of Sierra Leone as well as other corporations in America. Another statement I always tell our new clients is that you have to be well prepared and packaged prior to meeting any investor. I met a gentleman recently who was interested in starting a business but had no idea how to go about it. I explained to him how the business world operates, especially forming a corporate company in America. I also showed him a company I just formed with the logo, website, liquid assets and other things. He loved it and even offered to buy the whole company for half a million dollars. He knew this would save him a large amount of time and the hassle of getting things done. This is a proof that luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

– That statement is very true and I also agree with you because a lot of people will just sit and complain about things not going well rather than developing and preparing themselves for the future. God helps those who help themselves and people need to be well prepared and packaged so that if an opportunity comes their way they can just grab it.
   There is something that really amazes me about you and I must ask: You have experienced a very sad past, being homeless, but it happened a long time ago, even before you came to America. Things turned out to be great for you and you became very successful and maybe no one even knew about your past. I know that most people will not share such sensitive stories about their past because of pride or other personal reasons. Why did you decide to share it with the world?

– I tell my story because I want people to be inspired by it and not for people to feel sorry or have sympathy for me. In this life it is not what you have gone through that really matters, but how you have handled your past by using your hurt to be your strength and letting your pain make you grow. I have inspired hundreds of people if not thousands who also told their stories after hearing mine.

– I will have to drag you back a bit to your past again. During those dark and hard moments, did you ever dream of being this successful one day?

– Well, some situations and circumstances that you may find yourself in has a way of shaping you and in my days of being homeless, I had to put to bed all the big dreams I had. I was in a survival state with my mother and sisters. Owning a business and being this successful did not come to my mind back then, but shortly after I came to America I started to see how things could really happen. Then I started to reach back to those dreams and make them a reality.

– What was it like being a plus size model in your modelling days?

– It started when I wanted to find a place where I can look at myself and feel beautiful and confident because I struggled with it when I was younger. It was not something most people thought was a logical thing to do because of my size and I was made fun of by my family members because they thought it was a very silly idea to put myself in that platform knowing I do not look like the traditional model size wise, but I knew what I was doing.
I started modelling in high school and I met an international designer that came to one of the shows I participated in and he took me in his modelling club. He dressed me for multiple events in New York and just like that the opportunities grew more and more. I was able to work with countless well known designers all over America, including Nelly and Apply Bottom at the Robin Hood Foundation along with the New York Jet Players. I have been the only plus size model in most of the shows I’ve been in, but there is quality in everything and once I stepped on the runway it was magnificent. This is why I tell my story and encourage a lot of plus size African women to embrace their bodies and learn to love it. This is why I have also included a plus size category in the Sierra Leone Fashion Week that I am producing because I feel that it is time for us Africans to embrace our bodies, love ourselves wholeheartedly and not limit ourselves from any industry that we want to be in.

– Can you tell me more about your businesses/Companies and projects you are working on?

– I have a couple of businesses/companies including the Sierra Leone Fashion Week, Knox Model & Talent, Full and Fit Magazine for the plus size, the Sierra Leone Fashion and Art Council, Le Platinum Style Productions etc.

– What is your biggest inspiration and what do you want to tell the people you inspire?

– I usually look into my past and let that be my motivation to keep me going. I also get inspired a lot by the young people I see because of their energy, vitality and their concept that nothing is impossible.

– It was indeed a great pleasure having this interview with such a wonderful person, so humble and bold. Good luck in your future endeavors.

– The pleasure is mine. Thanks.

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