Dallas-based designer Tish Cox is bringing job opportunities to visually impaired individuals in her area.
Cox teamed up with local nonprofit Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind to provide a segment of its workforce with careers at her fashion design business. As a supporter of Made in USA clothing, Cox wanted to ensure that all of her collections would be created in the U.S., not overseas, and after visiting the organization she considered hiring blind artisans for her production operations.
“The relationship we have with Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind is so very special,” she said. “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.”
Cox launched her eponymous line in 2010, when she sewed 100 pieces in her home without the help of cut sheets or a pattern maker. Shortly after Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley and designer Zac Posen admired her designs at an event honoring Diane von Furstenberg, Cox moved production from her kitchen table to a real facility. The collaboration with Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind collaboration is the next stage of the line’s growth, as consumer demand increased and production expanded.
Currently, Cox is working on her 2017 spring and fall clothing and she projects that she will need a larger production staff, which is anticipated to grow to over 80 artisans in the next five years. More than 75 percent of her new workers will be blind or visually impaired.
“In addition to robotics, automation and lean assembly of various products at Dallas Lighthouse, its textile manufacturing capability is robust and geared for high output production,” said the nonprofit’s CEO, Hugh McElroy. “Unlike historic automation trends that often displace workers, Dallas Lighthouse’s mission is to grow jobs for the blind and vision impaired by training them to use specialized equipment that augments manual processes while increasing value and assured quality of the finished product.”
As part of the new agreement with Cox, an adjacent 4,500-square-foot fashion garment facility will be created, where the brand’s fashion designs will be produced by highly trained Lighthouse artisans. In the next five years, this collaboration is estimated to generate $76 million for the greater Dallas community and fortify the city’s economy.
“When we met Tish Cox and learned that she needed a high growth facility to produce her designs we couldn’t believe how fortuitous this opportunity was for everyone involved,” McElroy said. “It not only solved her manufacturing needs but provides skilled jobs for the community, a highly sustainable revenue stream for our organization that, combined with philanthropy, will support the economic transformation of our facilities into new horizons in the $3 trillion global textile sector.”