Updated: Feb 16
When I first caught a glimpse of Tanika Biggs aka Miss Vybz Fitnatixs I fell in love with the sheer passion she had for what she did. If you truly love what you do, you will never work a day in your life and Tanika is a true representation of this. If you venture onto her Instagram page, you are introduced to women of diverse cultures and ages enjoying the creativity and vibrancy that the Jamaican dance style whining offers. Women should feel free to embrace their bodies and express themselves in the ways they want to and Tanika is determined to take her brand and its message to the masses, one whine at a time.
Tanika, I truly admire the way that you have taken Caribbean dance and used it to empower women all around the world. This is such a major expression of female unity! How and when did you begin dancing and when did you decide that you wanted to embark on this journey?
Thank you, I really appreciate it. Whining and twerking is so empowering, and I am so grateful for all the women that have joined me and created such great memories with me. I have been dancing all my life but to my recollection, I was aware of my love for dance at the age of 4 when my nan bought me and my uncle to St.Lucia and we attended the Carnival. There are videos of me dancing constantly to Soca music with my family and friends. My heritage is Jamaican and St.Lucian. I have only been to St.Lucia once, but I have constantly been to Jamaica throughout my life and have always danced to Dancehall, Bashment and Reggae music. I also had a great love for street dance growing up and attended several dance classes. I would dance at school, at home, with friends and also at parties.
My friends and family always knew me as someone who loves to dance. I decided that I wanted to embark on this journey around September 2016. I was working as a Lifeguard in a leisure centre and would use the studios to dance. People would always ask me to teach them how to do certain dance moves and I was even teaching a colleague at the time how to do some whining techniques and I could actually see her progress overtime. All of these factors gave me the idea to host dance sessions where females would come together and just feel free to dance without the worry of anyone judging them or men bothering them for the wrong reasons. My idea then evolved and I decided to do actual dance classes with routines instead. Men are welcome so long as they participate.
Your brand is called Vybz Fitnatixs which perfectly captures the essence of your brand which is to teach women to dance and keep fit all while developing their confidence at the same time. What made you decide to launch this venture and how long did it take for you to move from the initial idea to making it a reality?
I decided to launch this venture because I felt that at the time there wasn't any classes like it, especially not in my local area. I did some online research but it turned out that twerking classes were only predominantly being run in America. So I decided to work on launching it here in the UK. I had the idea around September of 2016 and I started a Instagram account to promote myself. My friends were all so supportive of the idea and thought it was such a good idea. By December 2016, I had the studio at my place of work at the time booked for a taster class in January 2017. So I would say around 4-5 months. I had this deep urge within me to kick start and give it a go.
You are the mother to a beautiful son who I've often seen you refer to as your inspiration and blessing on Instagram. How have you managed to balance motherhood with running your business?
Aww, my son is just so Amazing. He is so full of life and love that it can be so overwhelming sometimes but he honestly makes me so proud and he definitely keeps me grounded. I've managed to balance motherhood and running a business by trying to be organised and focused on delegating tasks at appropriate times. So I will try to dance when he is asleep, or plan certain things when he is at nursery. But, running a business is so constant that it definitely can be hard sometimes.
I'm also able to do this because of my amazing support system. Without them, I wouldn't be able to do half the things that I am able to do now. My son's grandparents, aunties, uncles and even family friends all play a role in helping me have the balance that I need. Zane also loves to dance so we share the same passion, the feeling is indescribable because I didn't even think of the possibility of my son loving dance as much as me but its been evident from when he was a baby as he is able to bubble to music. This gives him a good understanding of why I may be away sometimes or working on my business. He even says that he will have his own dance business one day.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new clients?
Instagram has been such a great platform for me. I have met so many inspiring and talented people because of this app. If you use Instagram wisely, it can open up so many doors for you and connect you with some amazing people. Also using Instagram Ad's has helped me to reach new clients
Your work in now international with bookings/workshops being held in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Amsterdam! How proud are you of your ability to transcend cultural differences and unite women through dance and expression in different parts of the world?
I am so proud yet so humbled. It just confirms to me that I am on the right path and I should continue to believe in myself because if I can conceive it in my mind then it can become my reality. Now that I am doing what I love, sharing it with others and others are choosing to join me on this journey because they love it too just confirms to me the saying: Do what you love and the rest will follow.
I am a true believer in this because I've seen it work in my life and even though I had experienced it before, it has never been so loud and clear to me. I am so grateful for all the Beautiful women that helped me to make this happen, Miittu, Christina and Prinilla, thank you all so much for all your efforts and support.
Why was it important for you to take 'whining' and teach woman of the ways that it can be used as a sign of positive expression?
I feel that whining can be so underrated, its a dance form that is done practically everywhere and some people don't even realise that this is what they're doing when doing it. It can be seen as too sexual or vulgar and that is far from the truth. It's empowering, its fun, it can really help you to love yourself more. It naturally boosts your confidence. As well as allow you to have fun whilst dancing. I want women to love themselves whilst dancing and find their inner sexy and allow that to grow. There is nothing wrong with believing and knowing that you are sexy. In my culture whining is a positive expression, everyone's whine is unique to them and that is the beauty of it.
What challenges have you faced along the way whether it be in your personal or professional live and what steps have you taken to overcome them?
When I had my initial idea of starting my own classes I didn't want to hire the studios at my place of work at the time. I went to look at another studio close by and because I had no previous experience in teaching dance they wouldn't allow me to hire their studio and suggested that I went to university to study dance. This felt like a major setback. But then I then spoke with my colleague at the time Jarelle, who is now my sister and mentor all wrapped into one. She allowed me to join her company which is Fitnatixs so that I could do my classes in the studio we worked in during one of her hired time slots. She believed in me and saw my vision straight away. This has taught me that if you keep trying you will get where you want to because even though I had only looked at once studio it still made me feel like It would take such a long time to get to where I wanted to be, when in reality I was only one conversation away. So I overcome challenges by not giving up, anything that is for me, will be for me.
You have spent the majority of your time working through your brand to unite women through your work, why has it been important for you to do this?
It has been important for me to do this because I have so much more lovely people to dance with, collaborate with and teach. Working on my brand is something I try to constantly keep up to date with because I change everyday so the world changes everyday and it's important to keep my vision clear. I also believe that women united is a beautiful thing. It is so easy for women to segregate in this society because of their differences so finding common ground in things can really help to bring us together instead of tear us apart.
What upcoming projects do you have in the pipeline?
I have more classes coming soon, more dance videos, more collaborations, just so much more. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
What advice would you give to other business and career women who are launching or developing their brands?
Just do it. Literally just begin. Write down your ideas and then take steps into making them real. Even if its small, even if you think its silly. Do your research and find out if there are other people out there who love what you love. Putting yourself out there (depending on what it is) will attract people towards you. You will be surprised and overall, believe in yourself because you are you and that is your super power.