Tampa Bay, home of the champions: the Bucs, the Bolts, and the small business owner. Each player very unique from one another, but so much alike in the discipline, grit, and passion required to be successful in a city full of adoring fans.
Beyond the sporting spectator seasons, every day is game-day for the entrepreneur who is risking resources with every decision, the store-owner who’s opening hours will determine their family’s livelihood, and the creator who’s innate talent and ability has become an enterprise.
Recognized as the best city in Florida by Resonance Consultancy, a tourism and economic development agency, Tampa certainly has the real estate sites, leisure activities, and infrastructure to earn this ranking. But it is the population and workforce that brings a special type of energy and vibrancy to the area that is unmatched from any other Florida destination.
Like Brady and Gronk, Stamkos and Kucherov, Sharice Barnes and Sophia Stallworth are the all-star dynamic duo to watch. From New York Fashion Week to Miami Swim Week, the lush materials and multi-wear styles of Delyx, LTD have become fashionista favorites. In between an exciting show season for their swimwear, the ladies of Delyx share more about their Tampa-Bay based brand.
What inspired you both to transition from careers in the insurance and medical industries to take on the fashion world as entrepreneurs?
Sophia: For me, I’ve always loved all things design related and this was the opportunity to reignite my creative juices and reinvent myself after nearly two decades of being a stay at home mom, team mom, cheer coach, and a plethora of other things for my family and community. Not since volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or serving on The Producers Board at TBPAC, had I done something unrelated to the kids, just for my satisfaction.
Sharice: While I enjoyed my time in Corporate America, I felt like I needed a change. Being your own boss and working in a space where you can express your true passion is one of the most fulfilling things you could ever do. As you get older and start to re-evaluate your priorities and what you want your legacy to be, you begin to think about ways to truly make a difference in the world. DELYX has provided that opportunity for me, and I hope to be an inspiration for other female entrepreneurs. I believe it’s never too late to follow your dreams or make that career change!
Who is the DELYX woman and what is she wearing from the Summer collection?
Sophia: The DELYX woman is confident but kind; self-aware yet open to new experiences; she appreciates quality and attention to details not trends or fads; she’s timeless and classic with a bit of edginess. The DELYX woman is wearing several items form the collection, depending on her mood, motivation or activity. She will definitely have the always ready for any occasion Savannah one-piece, double-duty Palmetto sarong, and the oh-so-comfy Seabreeze flip-flops.
Sharice: She loves to travel where she can experience different cultures and meet new people and lives a more active lifestyle.
Where do you draw ideas from with each collection? Does design come very naturally to both of you? Do either of you sew?
Sophia: I am inspired constantly! Whether it’s thru nature, architecture, history, art, politics, or everyday objects, you never know what will spark an idea, so I try to remain open when thoughts come to me for future development…then the work really begins! All these things evoke emotions that influence create outcomes. So I guess in a way it comes naturally (initially) to me. Other than quilts I made for my kids when they were babies, I’ve never sewn. In my need for quality, I appreciate the expertise and craftsmanship of professionals and leave construction and production up to them.
Sharice: While I believe design comes more naturally to Sophia, my passion is attached to fabric, fit, and pieces that make you feel great! My inspiration ranges from well established designers to women I encounter in my daily life. I also look to create pieces I would like to see in the market and/or styles that flatter most body types.
My mother was a seamstress and made all of my clothing, throughout most of my formative years. During that time, she taught me the basics of sewing, how to create and utilize patterns (Remember Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls? Whew… I’m dating myself!!), and the importance of fabric and fit. While I would never profess to be a seamstress and insult the true professionals, I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to both share those times with my mother and learn a few tricks of the trade along the way!
In what way(s) does life in Tampa Bay contribute to the forward vision of a luxury accessory line like DELYX? Is your line stocked at any local retailers?
Sophia: As I see Tampa’s continued growth and development, I am encouraged that DELYX will continue to grow with It! I view it as increased opportunity to engage and be influenced by a larger audience of people relocating to Tampa Bay area.
Funny you ask! First of all, I personally thought that living in Tampa would be a win-win for our swim collection. A ready-made community of sun and sea lovers. However, we have not been able to capitalize as yet, and we are not currently stocked in any local retailers.
Sharice: Here in Tampa, I have been inspired by the number of female entrepreneurs, across all industries. In addition, we are a city that attracts people from all over the world. Our products were born out of a necessity directly related to travel. Living downtown provides an opportunity to meet all kinds of new people/travelers on a regular basis. These interactions continue to inspire me and validate our business concept, specifically versatile, great quality products.
While our winter items can be found in Park City, UT (where our business idea was conceived), unfortunately we are not yet stocked in any local boutiques.
You just returned from the Miami Swim Week. Congratulations on being a part of such an important event for the swimwear industry! Can you tell us about your experience there?
Sophia: Miami Swim Week was amazing! Long hours and hard work, but amazing! The reception we received was truly reassuring in the direction, concept and brand values of DELYX. We met so many wonderful people in the fashion industry, from other brand owners, models, influencers, marketers and retailers and look forward to future collaborations with many of them.
News is that you head to Atlanta Fashion Week in late September. What will you be showing there?
Sophia: Atlanta International Fashion Week will showcase both CASHMERE + SWIM. We will be introducing our new Fall 21/22 cashmere pieces, as well our Resort Swim collection in possibly new color combinations.
Sharice: Both our Winter and Summer/Resort Collections. Mixing in our swimwear with our cashmere beanies/winter wear.
The fashion industry has shown some promising signs in a movement for brands to become more inclusive. DELYX has always been at the helm of diversity with its models and body types to represent all women. Do you have any plans to feature other unique audiences in future campaigns?
Sophia: We are always open and receptive to new audiences. We casted our first beautifully bald and Alopecia Advocate model (@jeanaturner) at Miami Swim Week. Honestly, her hair or lack of hair, never crossed my mind. I thought she was simply stunning, inside and out. It was only after seeing her story on Instagram, that this was her first audition with Miami Swim Week and was casted by 17 designers, that revealed the gravity of it for her life!
What is the best way our Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine community can support you today?
Sophia: As they say, it’s not what you know, but who you know! A lot of times a person, especially of color or lower social economics, may have the talent and know how, but not the personal relationships to make the connections needed to succeed. We appreciate your support in giving us space and time with your audience for their consideration to become a DELYX Insider!
Sharice: Please go to our website and join our community and of course, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love to keep our hometown audience up to date with what’s happening with DELYX and collaborate with other local female entrepreneurs!