Tabitha St. Bernard seemed surprised when I said I could see influences of her former employer, Eli Tahari, in her line of zero-waste dresses and separates.
"Really? No one has ever said that before," she said.
Hey, it may not seem obvious. But look closely at Tabii Just and you'll realize the ladylike forms and impeccable tailoring are there, just splashed with hot colors and Caribbean flair.
Tabitha invited me to her home in Brooklyn to take an exclusive sneak peak at her spring line last week. I have to admit, I may be biased--while I was there she plied me with food from her native Trinidad and rum--but I was moved by the sleek, sexy lines done up in hues fit for Carnival. (Her own fantastic Carnival headdress has a place of honor above her living room entrance.)
Tabitha endeared herself to me right away. She's passionate and knowledgeable about ethics and sustainability. Also, she has that fierce half-shaved hair look. It's something I could never do myself, but (as I will tell anyone who will listen) always admire in cool NYC girls.
So without further introduction, read up on Tabitha's favorite NYC haunts and her green beliefs. Then flip through her spring look book--you saw it here on EcoCult first! And if you want to sip on rum while you do it, all the better!
What's your favorite NYC restaurant?
I'm completely obsessed with this little spot in Brooklyn called Bake and Things. They have the best Trinidadian food in New York. I eat there four or five times a week because it reminds me of being back home in my country. It's a bit ridiculous how good the food is.
Your fave bar?
I usually end up at the Flatbush Farm in Brooklyn when I'm out with friends having a drink.
Describe your perfect Sunday.
I don't get a ton of time to relax, so my idea of a perfect Sunday would start with waking up early and having a home-cooked breakfast at home. Then, I would go bike-riding or walking with my husband. A visit to the Brooklyn Museum would make the day perfect. It would end with dinner at a local spot with some friends. It definitely needs to include good food, close friends and the outdoors.
You can only see one musical artist perform this year--who do you choose?
I am so so biased because my husband is a musician! He's part of The Dirty Sock Funtime Band and they're my favorite band so it would definitely be them. I'm a bit of a groupie.
What's your favorite place to shop in the city?
I love Bhoomki in Park Slope. They sell the most unique pieces from top eco-conscious designers around the world.
Your favorite NYC-made brand?
Tabii Just, of course! When I'm designing, I always ask myself if I would walk into a store and buy my own clothes. They're vibrant and incredibly wearable. For jewelry, my favorite NYC-made brands are Natalie Frigo and Delphine LeyMarie. Their jewelry is eco-sensible, unique and with just the right amount of edge. I love statement pieces, and they have some beautiful items.
You have three days free to get the heck out of the city. Where do you go?
I would go to Bethany Beach, Delaware. My in-laws live close to the beach. When I go there, my brain takes a vacation and all we do is hang out at the beach, cook, talk and relax. It's one of my favorite places to go.
Do you vintage shop? Where do you go?
I do more thrift shopping than vintage shopping. I adore Housing Works! I bought my wedding dress at Housing Works. I love the thrill of searching for a treasure among all the used items and finding that perfect thing that makes my heart sing.
What's your biggest, unsustainable bad habit?
I have to admit that I sometimes buy bottled water. I'm still in search of the perfect portable water bottle that doesn't leak in my bag. I tried a glass bottle but it broke. I have the worst luck with carrying around water bottles. I usually use a plastic bottle until it starts crinkling, though.
How has living sustainably change your life for the better?
Living sustainably allows me to make a difference in my life in a small, consistent manner. Living sustainably for me doesn't mean massive actions or grand gestures. It's the little actions like recycling my plastics and paper, paying bills online, upcycling clothing, shopping in a conscientious manner, supporting local labor and my local community and more. I've found a great sense of purpose living conscientiously.
Do you ever lecture your friends on their non-green choices?
Absolutely not. Being lectured to is not pleasant. I think that living “green” is a very personal decision. To each his own.
What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?
I find it most challenging when people try to challenge my level of commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. I think everyone is on their own journey and it's up to them to adapt to new information when is best for them. If they don't, I don't think it's indicative of their character. I personally do my best with the information I have and hope others will do the same, according to their lives.
When it's yellow, do you let it mellow?
LOL! That's neither here or there for me.