Zoe Allamby grew up in Porters, St James, with a dream to become a modelling sensation on the big international stage.
The small island girl would subsequently break into the Miami, USA market, modelling for luxurious brands like Michael Kors, Alberta Ferretti and everyday brands like Bloomingdale’s whilst working with makeup brands like Iman Cosmetics among many others.
Zoe, now 25, knew from a tender age that she was into beauty and fashion, beyond what Barbados had to offer. To place herself in a market where there were bigger and better opportunities, she decided to study at the Miami International University of Art and Design.
“I knew I couldn’t develop my career to its full potential here, which is why I didn’t opt to do Sixth Form in Barbados and instead went to Miami and did a Bachelors of Arts in Fashion Merchandising,” she said.
From there, the ambitious young woman landed an internship at The Falls Mall, operated by a subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company called the Simon Property Group.
Allamby would learn all she could from that internship before becoming Head of Marketing at an e-commerce company and subsequently as Director of Online Marketing for designer Julian Chang.
But doing modelling on the side was not enough. In 2015, Allamby quit her 9 to 5 job and has never looked back. “It was a risk and a very, very scary decision but I am a firm believer that you are going to make money if you are dedicated and doing what you enjoy, which is why I took the plunge to do modelling and vlogging full time,” she said.
It’s a decision she does not regret. The model, beauty influencer, YouTube vlogger now turned entrepreneur returned home in September to launch her first product, Zo Glow, a highlighter under her company Carib Beauty.
“I always knew I wanted to get into the beauty development industry, some form of beauty products. I felt like I built my brand enough over the years and I had a pretty good following, especially here in Barbados which is why I came home to launch it because home drum beats first,” said Allamby.
She intends eventually to return home to live, candidly adding that you should never forget where you came from or the people that helped you to get to where you are.
Allamby shared with Barbados TODAY the nine month process that would bring her first beauty product to the world.
“I knew I wanted it to be a highlighter, so the name Zo Glow came first and it came to me in January when I was flying from Barbados back to Miami. I knew I wanted to incorporate my name somehow and what I stood for, which is natural beauty and I thought the highlighter would be the most natural product.”
Allamby explained she wanted her product to enhance a woman’s natural beauty but still be “buildable” for the more dramatic ladies.
“I returned to Miami and I started working with a factory there, trying to get the right shade, texture and formula. That took a while but after that we worked on packaging which I played an active role in.”
She went on: “I was working with my old roommate Ryan Walker who is a graphic designer and actually she was the person that pushed me into YouTube and vlogging. She helped me develop packaging for Zo Glow and for imagery I worked with Diego Jenty,” Allamby related.
Without a full team by her side, the decisions and the hard work all fell to Zoe but the venture is paying off as persons locally, regionally and internationally are aglow with Zo Glow highlighter.
Allamby said there was definitely a market in Barbados for the product. “Bajan girls love some makeup and being a woman of colour, I feel as if highlighters, particularly gold tone ones, always enhance brown skin and I’m a firm believer of women loving the skin that they’re in,” she said.
Allamby created her YouTube page in 2010 after recognizing an absence of black girls vlogging. She built her following organically before YouTube was seen as an occupation. To Allamby, it was a hobby.
“I was always watching YouTube tutorials online from makeup to hair and I enjoyed it but there was a lack of representation, much like in the modelling world. It was hard being a woman of colour especially because the Miami market is very hispanic-based.”
She went on: “Most shows, I was one of the only women of colour. Added to that I had natural hair which sometimes was a benefit as persons wanted the unique Afrocentric look but other times, it was a disadvantage as many designers wanted you to make your hair straight or put on a wig or weave.”
Being able to represent women of colour, she said, was an incredible feeling.
Allamby credits her success to God, first and foremost, and then her parents. “My parents are business owners in Barbados and they have always advised me to do what makes me happy, so I’ve always had a strong support system,” she said.
She pointed out that her parents truly believed in her when she said she wanted to go into the beauty industry. “At school, teachers would ask me, ‘But what do you actually want to do?’ because maybe they didn’t take me saying I wanted to model seriously but for me there was no ifs, buts or maybes to it. I wanted this.”
Zoe’s advice to young Barbadian women wanting to get into the beauty industry is to make a start. “You have to start, you have to have a plan and be consistent,” she said.
Carib Beauty will be expanding a little later than expected to give time for Allamby to welcome her first child early next year. The excited mom to be told Barbados TODAY that a lip product will be coming by mid 2018.