As the administrative assistant led me to Natashia Tomekâ€™s office, I was slightly nervous. Meeting a successful young woman who is 26 is intimidating, especially when she works in the fashion industry. As I was greeted by the lively Tomek one morning on a busy work day, dressed in a loose, navy chiffon blouse and skinny jeans, she directed me to have a seat before opening up about her journey to success and how she created her own company in the ever-so-competitive fashion industry.
Itâ€™s very difficult landing a job working in fashion, especially when attending a college without an outlet for it. Since students at Cal State Fullerton don’t have the same resources as students who attend Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) or Parsons, itâ€™s a struggle to be immersed in the fashion world. Tomek, however, did it all, and sheâ€™s not going to stop just yet.
She graduated from CSUF in 2010 and launched her own shoe line a year later. Sheâ€™s the founder and CEO of her footwear company, Tash Limited. Although sheâ€™s young, she is already selling cute, affordable shoes to women around the world. Her accounts span from Canada, Puerto Rico, Chile and the U.S. And no, her success didnâ€™t come from being a trust fund baby or having outside help from parents. She works hard and puts 100 percent of her effort into everything she does.
Her company began after a trip she took to China. There, she stumbled upon foldable flats and decided to create her own version. These flats fold in half, saving space and are easily stored in your purse â€“ something essential to the college woman.
â€œThe shoes are comfortable and portable. I like that I can take them literally everywhere,â€ said Heather-Mae Ackerman, public relations of Radii Footwear and Tomekâ€™s colleague.
Tomek launched the â€œTash Foldsâ€ line at the Magic Tradeshow in Las Vegas this past February.
â€œI started with shoes because women’s clothes are hard to produce. Trends go out quickly by the time it hits production,â€ remarked Tomek.
All her shoes retail under $40 and her designs are inspired by the casual Californian style. Being around friends and seeing their style is what inspires Tomekâ€™s designs.
â€œThe flats are super comfortable and very fashionable. You can dress them up and down,â€ said Nelly Sanchez, Tomekâ€™s accountant.
Tomekâ€™s office is decorated with posters, banners and ads of Tash Limited shoes. Thereâ€™s even a giant poster of her on the cover of OC Metro Magazine resting against the wall. As we sat in her brightly lit office, she explained to me that she actually began her career at Cal State Long Beach in 2004.
â€œI majored in business marketing and minored in fashion, but then I got a job at Brea mall,â€ said Tomek.
She landed a job at Boardwalk Surf, Skate and Snow shop as a manager and later got promoted as a full-time buyer for the company.
When the commute got a hold of Tomek, she decided to transfer to CSUF. She majored in communications with an emphasis in public relations, but that wasnâ€™t enough for her.
â€œAt night I would go to Fullerton College and take classes in fashion design,â€ Tomek said.
Since CSUF doesnâ€™t offer any courses pertaining to fashion, it was the only way Tomek could steer her career in the right direction. She earned an AA in fashion design, worked full time and attended classes at CSUF.
Tomek expressed with enthusiasm that it did take her six years to get her bachelor’s degree, but it was definitely worth it.
â€œI never wanted fashion design to be the main focus, because most of the time people donâ€™t take it seriously,â€ she said.
Tomek eventually moved out of her parentsâ€™ house at the age of 21 and took out some school loans to survive.
What motivated Tomek to work so hard was an incident that occurred when she was 15 years old.
â€œMy dad lost his job and I donâ€™t ever want to be put in that situation,â€ Tomek said.
At 22 years old, Tomek was offered a job at another surf and skate retailer, Beach Bums. She supervised its womenâ€™s division while in school and designed the womenâ€™s private label. The owner of Beach Bums, Cliff Haddadin, decided to close down all chain stores around April of 2010. Around that time, Tomek graduated and Haddadin decided to invest in her footwear company.
Tomek stands by the motto that experience gears you in the right direction. Doing an internship is what will help your career flourish.
â€œItâ€™s going to pay off later,â€ Tomek said. â€œJust keep working because you need the experience.â€
Tomek also stressed how important it is to network with those around you and that your college campus is a great place to meet those contacts.
â€œGet to know that person sitting next to you in class because you might end up working with them in the next 10 years,â€ she convincingly said.
Her public relations classmates at CSUF actually helped land her the front cover of OC Metro.
Everyone has a dream job and Tomek is certainly working hers. She feels strongly about putting your heart to whatever it is you love to get that career.
â€œEveryone paints the perfect picture,â€ she said. â€œYou donâ€™t need to go to that perfect school, but you do need to excel at whatever you do. Put yourself out there.â€
Working hard really does pay off â€“ just look at Tomek and her thriving career. For more information and to purchase her awe-inspiring flats, visit TashLimited.com.