One of the things I love most about Dallas is how we blend our entrepreneurial drive with our dedication to giving back to the Dallas community. A perfect example came across my desk this week announcing that acclaimed Dallas designer Tish Cox has signed an agreement with Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind to dedicate a segment of their blind and vision impaired workforce to the production of her chic fashion designs in what is believed to be the only enterprise between a fashion house and blind and visually impaired nonprofit organization of its kind. With Cox’s production facility unable to keep pace with the increasing demand for her clothing line, the pressure to emulate most large fashion labels and take production out of the country became a reluctant consideration. “Having my line made here is very important to me,” Cox says. “Every piece I have produced has a label with ‘Made in Dallas, Texas’ printed on it." In May of this year, a most unexpected introduction was made and Cox’s line, and by her own admission, her life, will never be the same. After visiting Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, the designer was inspired to consider bringing her production to the qualified hands of blind artisans. Cox, struggling to get the words out, says “The relationship we have with Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind is so very special. To think that my clothing line will afford the Dallas Lighthouse opportunities to serve more of the vision impaired in North Texas is really the big news here and I am compelled to do this. I am so privileged and humbled to have this incredible opportunity.” Don't you love a win/win?!
Tish Cox’s namesake clothing line was started in 2010 in her Dallas home by sewing 100 pieces herself on her kitchen island without a pattern maker or cut sheets. Serendipitously, one of her designs was admired by Vogue Magazine editor Andre Leon Talley and designer Zac Posen, which lead to Cox creating her own line. Demand for her chic custom clothing grew, orders ballooned, production expanded and her fashion fairy tale dreams became reality. She considers this unique symbiotic relationship with Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind an incredible transition to the next stage of her line’s growth and a breakthrough for the fashion industry overall. “What an amazing opportunity to provide quality work for these talented individuals,” continued Cox. “And I have the added luxury of a local facility that I access routinely and where I have been welcomed by this unique and precious organization. Dallas Lighthouse’s workforce is skilled and dependable – its capabilities are amazing. These critical things are a very rare combination to find in this industry.”
As Cox completes details of her upcoming 2017 spring and fall designs, she forecasts her need for a production staff will increase dramatically to more than 80 artisans within five years, 75 percent or more of which will be blind or vision impaired. “The new agreement with TISHCOX is resulting in the creation of an adjacent 4,500-square-foot fashion garment center where TISHCOX creations will be produced by highly trained and qualified Lighthouse artisans who will soon transform raw material into beautiful fashion designs utilizing the latest equipment and adaptive technology of its kind,” said Hugh McElroy, CEO of Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind. “The estimated impact to the greater Dallas community is projected to be $76 million over the next five years as a result of this agreement. For 85 years, Dallas Lighthouse has assisted many thousands of blind and vision impaired individuals of all ages with training, tools and resources to enhance their independence. With the national average unemployment rate for blind and vision impaired workers exceeding 60 percent and 30 percent of blind households in the United States living below the poverty line, our mission has never been more vital nor the stakes higher for all the blind and vision impaired residents of North Texas who need our help.”
You can shop Tish Cox designs at Cabana on Lovers Lane and follow her on Instagram to keep up with her work. For more on how you can get involved with Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, visit www.dallaslighthouse.org.