Real Talk with TiffTheZeta
I met up with charismatic, trendsetting stylist TiffTheZeta at Café Brazil in Deep Ellum, to have some Real Talk about where the name "TiffTheZeta" originated from, what womanhood means to her, how she became a stylist, her time at New York fashion week this year, and of course her thoughts on the Black Panther. TiffTheZeta is an alumni of both Skyline Highschool in Dallas, Tx in which she was a member of the Fashion Cluster where she gained her foundation of knowledge for the fashion industry; and Texas A&M University Commerce in which she received her Bachelor's in Social Work with a minor in Business Administration. TiffTheZeta's clientele includes but is not limited to former Cowboy's Defensive End Damontre Moore, Cowboy's Defensive End Charles Taper, Dallas rapper Lil Ronny MothaF, R&B artist Keith Jacobs, and ABC New's Anchor Demetria Obilor.
Although we are Facebook friends, this was my first time meeting TiffTheZeta and let me just say she is definitely someone to know. She presented herself as a kindred spirit who works to make people feel good about themselves by spreading light and love through fashion.
I approached this interview a bit differently by not having any scripted or practiced questions so that the conversation could flow a bit more freely.
Question: How did you end up becoming a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated?
Answer: Because that was the only way.
My Response: Okay I need a less cliché answer because if I ask a Delta or AKA that, they are going to say the exact same thing.
Tiff's Response: I saw the light and that's where I went. No seriously um to be honest, when I actually came to the campus I wasn't even thinking about being in Greek life ... not at all... I was like I'm just going to go, just get my degree like everybody else, but these group of women ... I hadn't seen any colors yet, I hadn't seen any letters none of that ... I'd just seen the dynamics of the different groups of women that were actually on campus and I was like "hmm that don't like me". You know once I actually started to engage and see what was going on , I seen another group of ladies and I was like "that's definitely not me" you know and when I seen this particular group they were all different by race, by style, by normality, I mean just an eclectic group of people and they were fun. Every time you saw them, you could tell they had a real real sisterhood, and I was like that's something I know for sure that I want to be a part of and that's where I went.
So how I got the name "TiffTheZeta" since we're already on Zeta ... so after I became a member of Zeta Phi Beta in Spring '07 also known as "Showtime", Ace Club if you wanted to know that! So I got the name actually because when I became Greek I was no longer Tiffany Maxfield. People were like "You know Tiff right?", "Tiff who?", "The Zeta" ... so I just took that and just branded myself, I was no longer Tiffany Maxfield like that's not your name nomore you're now just TiffTheZeta. So every move I made everything I did it was captured after Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. So I had to make sure I watched how I moved on and off campus, because even off campus you're not Tiffany Maxfield you still represent Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. So I was like you know what, I might as well just brand myself with that so I just branded myself ... that's where it came from.
My Response: I mean which is something you're suppose to do regardless like I was never apart of Greek life but I'm a Christian and I've been working hard to represent myself the way I should.
Question: So today is International Women's Day, what is your definition of womanhood - what does it mean to be a woman to you?
Answer: Femininity 24/7. Being in the business of being a stylist I have to remember ... well I'm not going to say have to remember ... but I'm always reminding myself to keep my femininity, because I specialize in men's fashion and that can go either way especially when I want to deliver a style or even if I want to present that style on me. I have to still keep my femininity ... the way I speak, the way I carry myself, and all aspects of being a woman ... strong, you know confidence, brave, brilliant, I mean I can go on and on with adjectives if you want me to.
Question: Keep going lol! I was looking at your Instagram because obviously I wasn't going to hit you up and ask for an interview without finding out more about you, and I noticed for example the way you're dressed today ... you normally have on a fedora and you kind of play a lot into masculinity with the way you dress ... explain why you do that?
Answer: I don't think I play with masculinity, this is just me. So I can give you five different looks in one day you just never know what you're going to get when you see me. So what I do post, is just to bring that crowd because I specialize in men's fashion. But if you see me out in the community you're gonna get somebody totally different. Like today I'm really just chilling.
My Response: You don't look like you're just chilling, how much effort went into this outfit?
Tiff's Response: Oh nothing, I just woke up this morning and put it on for work and that was it. I said "is it cold outside?"
My Response: Did you stick your hand out the door to check the temp like black people do?
Tiff's Response: Nah, I didn't stick my hand out lol I said it's about 40-41 degrees, it's cold ... it's cold. But other than that I didn't put much thought into it. I think it's just because you're looking at the fedora hat, and that's just the trademark for me. I love hats, so not even just fedora hats and I'm also a brand ambassador for "Singer and Monk" which is located in Bishop Arts District. It's a hat company, so they sell like top hats from European to custom. So I actually wear them a lot because I'm a brand ambassador for them, this is actually one their hats I have on today.
Question: So how did you become a stylist, why did you become a stylist?
Answer: Girl, that's a good question to, I ask myself that all the time.
My Response: Well when you were little did you want to be a stylist?
Tiff's Response: I didn't, actually when I was little I wanted to be a police officer.
My Response: Wow, that's way at the other end of the spectrum.
Tiff's Response: Yea, my dad is an undertaker he owns two funeral homes and my dad is a single parent, he raised my sister and I. And growing up he always of course had to present himself in suits for you know funerals, and meeting with families and etc. So he would make me get him dressed, and I didn't notice until I became an adult that he was training me for this. I mean he taught me the different shirts, collars, to shoes, to socks and this was as an adolescent. I knew how to tie a tie, bowtie and tie ... short, long, wide-neck, all of that. So that's where the interest came and I've always just been open minded with fashion. Like this is nothing new, since I was like five years old.
Now how I became a stylist, I was actually helping out with a fashion show ... I don't know what year it was ... and someone asked me "would you mind like helping out in the back?', and I was like "Nah, I really just came to look at some clothes you know, something I may want to pick up" and I went ahead and went back there and it was cool and an NFL player seen me out in the community and was like "Yo, you dope, I would love for you to hook me up with something" and I'm like "Nah, I don't want to that either, I ain't got time", like I really was not nowhere near going to do this ... and then I just did it and the rest is history. I don't have like a grand story, that was it. And now I've been styling professionally for two years.
My Response: Obviously you enjoy it?
Tiff's Response: I love it. I love shopping so it's nothing.
Question: Okay, so what exactly does a stylist do? Is that the same as like a personal shopper?
Tiff's Response: Yea. I mean it depends everyone has their own different definition so it just depends.
Question: Okay so define style. Let's say I was a consult, what's the first thing you think about?
Tiff's Response: You're natural. Not just your hair, but just natural overall. You're real calm and safe.
My Response: How do you get from just looking at me?
Tiff's Response: I can just tell. It's your personality, just the way you carry yourself ... I can just tell ... you're warm, you're safe.
Question: So how do you interpret that into styling?
Tiff's Response: I'd just brighten you up a little bit more. Give you a little bit more spunk, change your hair.
My Response: And you do that with everyone you meet?
Tiff's Response: My goal, um, as a stylist ... for me it's more about making the individual feel so good. So I have clients that I don't even post ... I have a lot of clients, but I don't post all of my clients ... like I have a lot clients who have insecurities like weight loss, a numerous of things to why they don't dress, they don't wear certain things due to maybe past history ... ptsd ... so I'm here to make a difference and make you feel comfortable about yourself, going out into the community, going to events ... not staying in doors, not being a sociopath. You know it's deeper for me.
My Response: That's beautiful! You know I have an appreciation for the arts, like a deep appreciation. I'm a creative but I don't paint and I'm not a stylist so I think it's beautiful that you do that for your clients.
Question: Do you prefer working with men over women?
Answer: I don't. I just specialize in it more just because that's just what I like. I love women's fashion too, I love all fashion ... but I just like men's fashion ... cause it's more technical. I feel like women's is kinda easy ... but men is more technical and then you have so much you can play with, with men's fashion. And then my vision is ... funky so.
Question: So where do you draw your inspiration from?
Answer: To be honest God. Yea, it just comes to me.
My Response: Do you pray a lot?
Tiff's Response: Oh yea, everyday. All day, everyday.
My Response: I'm about to go into something else ... would you say you hear God clearly?
Tiff's Response: I'm not going to say I hear him clearly, but he puts things in my spirit for sure. I had a movement a year ago ... I don't know if you remember where we were actually hit here in Dallas, the police officers on Lamar ... and I started Heart of Gold, you may have saw that on my page as well and on my Facebook and on my website ... and it just dawned on me "What can I do in this city to make an impact so small, and still brand myself at the same time?". And at that time the Olympics were going on ... you know you have silver, bronze, and you have gold medals ... and gold is what? the highest right? And I was like, it's only one way to heal this land ... it's love, God is love ... and I created Heart of Gold.
My Response: Because you have a Heart of Gold.
Tiff's Response: Right, and everybody should too.
My Response: Everybody should but they don't.
Tiff's Response: They don't. So I started a movement here, and it just went everywhere. I mean my hearts went to Italy, to Guam, to all over the country like to Spain ... I mean the hearts went everywhere.
My Response: You seem like such a passionate person and compassionate person.
Tiff's Response: I am. This is not something I'm just doing.
My Response: You have a beautiful spirit.
Tiff's Response: Thank You.
Heart of Gold Lookbook
Question: So I saw you and R.K.J on Instagram and Facebook ...
Tiff's Response: Yea, we got some heat coming.
My Response: What kind of heat?
Tiff's Response: We got some mad heat coming, you just got to wait and see. You'll see soon.
My Response: Like heat heat? Extra hot heat?
Tiff's Response: Extra hot heat. He's amazing.
My Response: Oh, I know he is. I met him when I was out in these streets cutting up. He's definitely somebody to know.
Tiff's Response: Crazy thing is I just met him ... someone hit me up ... I was in New York, at New York Fashion Week, and somebody hit me up there and said "When you get back to Dallas, you need to meet him" , they told me the same thing about him. So they connected us while I was there.
I finally got the scoop on what the heat is that TiffTheZeta has coming with R.K.J, keep reading to find out!
Question: So you were at New York Fashion Week, how was it?
Answer: New York Fashion Week, appeared to reflect as a stylist dream. It was full of fashion, laughs and eclectic models. I presented with Dallas designer Joshwae on that Saturday at one of the hottest shows in Manhattan.
My Response: That's amazing! I'm rooting for everybody black. Speaking of everybody black, have you seen The Black Panther? How did you feel about it?
Tiff's Response: I did see The Black Panther. I enjoyed every second of it ... from the music, from the style, Oh My Gosh! From the authenticity of your African Americans, the Africans, the tribes, I enjoyed it. It was a really great film that I feel will live forever. The fact that my nephew, I have a ten year old nephew and to hear him talk about it like "I didn't know we had Black Panthers", that's amazing to hear cause now he's going to be like "I don't have to be the Transformers, I don't have to be Spider-Man, I can be The Black Panther".
Question: How did you feel about the way black women were portrayed in the film? When you left the theater what did you feel?
Tiff's Response: I didn't feel any-type of way. I look at the bigger picture of everything ... so I'm not taking bits and pieces out of the story ... I look at the entire story. I'm looking at the entire picture, that we as African Americans need to come together. That's all I'm looking at. But yea, I thought it was great cause we need to come together. Even though that was Killmonger's first cousin he still turned against him. That's like huge for me, I guess like in my family, that's huge to me. Y'all blood.
My Response: Is that new to you?
Tiff's Response: No, not the scenario ... I'm just saying to see that depicted in the movie is crazy, like this really happens day by day. I don't understand it like that's Japanese to me.
Final Question: Who are your top three stylist or fashion designers?
Answer: UgoMozie (stylist), Brad Goreski (sylist), Gucci (designer brand)
I'm so glad that I reached out to TiffTheZeta for an interview, because I was able to meet an amazing, kind hearted, passionate, and talented woman. TiffTheZeta is focused on fulfliiling her dreams and I am more than excited to be able to whitness where her drive and passion will take her.
Remember when I said I found out what the heat is that Tiff and fashion designer R.K.J is? Well TiffTheZeta is not only known for styling, she's known for hosting as well, and will be hosting R.K.J's Museum of Fashion! You can find more out on the event page.