The Stoosh lady speaks
YOU get a sense that Patrice DaCosta feels some amount of achievement when she talks about her image consulting business these days.
"Because people are now getting it," she says.
'It', she explains, is "the importance of their personal development".
"Personal development for me is not just appearance," she elaborates. "It's how you behave, how you speak to people, how you make people feel. So it's a holistic approach."
According to DaCosta, companies are now realising that the world is getting smaller because of technology. "So what they used to allow for their employees five, 10 years ago is no longer possible because of competition and because cellphones are so readily available to take a picture. I've seen so many instances where people have gone to work and been sent home because of poor behaviour," she tells All Woman.
It's been almost nine years since DaCosta started her company -- Stoosh! -- part-time in New York, before going into the venture full-time three years later, in 2008.
But the first step on that journey to self-employment was taken in 2000 when she left Air Jamaica and went to England where she did a post-graduate degree in marketing and information technology.
However, she realised then that her first love was fashion. So, after completing her studies, DaCosta jetted off to New York and enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
"That's when I realised it was becoming more than a hobby, it was natural," she says.
After achieving certification in image consulting at FIT, DaCosta pursued a fashion merchandising diploma at Fashion Development Institute in Atlanta, after which she gained certification in etiquette.
Choosing a name for her small company wasn't difficult.
"I'm totally Jamaican, and I wanted something to cause people ask 'What's that?'" she explains.
It worked, because Americans in general are not familiar with the Jamaican word.
"I tell them it means nice, elegant, sophisticated," DaCosta replies, when asked how she responds to queries.
"When I explain it to them, they say 'Oh dear, I want to be stoosh'," she says. "Anywhere I go they must know I'm Jamaican, and I will not change that for anything."
The name, she says, has also gained popularity in the Eastern Caribbean where she conducts workshops. "In Barbados many people don't know my name, all they say is the Stoosh lady," DaCosta says.
"Stoosh, for me, is a whole personal development, it's not about the looks," she says. "What I want to convey more than ever is that working with an image consultant doesn't mean something is wrong with you. I find that in Jamaica that's a big perception. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and pretty much what I do is I help to enhance you, I don't change you."
Now that people are more aware of the importance of personal development, DaCosta says she intends to focus this year on writing her book. "For now it's called the Stoosh Style Manual," she says.
She also wants to increase her involvement in charity and social work.
"I am on the board of Dress For Success Jamaica and I also assist the Women's Centre of Jamaica with cash and kind, as well as style instruction for the girls," DaCosta reveals, adding that in Barbados she also does voluntary work with the Cancer Society.
Having already conducted more than 100 workshops, DaCosta has her sights set on Trinidad, Antigua, and St Vincent.
"I also want to open Stoosh Accessories Boutique in New York, and that is when I really want to zero in on Caribbean designers," she says, explaining that she already sells accessories made by a few Caribbean designers.
"I want to bring the Caribbean to the world in my own little way... that's my way of integrating the Caribbean, because I'm a true Caribbean girl."