It wasn't lost on internationally famous hair stylist and TV star Tabatha Coffey that Sunday — the day she jetted into Chattanooga for an appearance at the SHE Expo! — was only one week and three days removed from the shooting that claimed the lives of four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor in the city.
Leading up to the appearance, Coffey even tempered her social media posts. She wanted to celebrate the pending date with the Scenic City, but didn't want to seem flippant in the wake of the city's tragedy, she said. Because kindness and courtesy are apparently the tough-talking, tell-it-like-it-is star's MO when she isn't in front of the camera helping craft the best stylist, business or — coming soon in her new Bravo Network show "Tabatha's Life Takeover" — individual.
Coffey spent time with fans, autographed copies of her books and gave a keynote address from the SHE Expo! main stage Sunday at the Chattanooga Convention Center. It was her first trip to Chattanooga.
Behind closed doors, Coffey talked about her stylist icon (Vidal Sassoon) and her life icon (her mother) and the value of lending strength to others when and where you can, especially after a tragedy like the one on July 16.
"Even though awful things like that happen, we have to stay strong," she said. "We have to be the people that we are."
Coffey, known as a strong-arming life coach of sorts, said in times like the ones facing Chattanooga right now, strength plays a different role, and she hopes to come alongside people "who maybe don't have a lot of strength at the time."
"I have had to rely on other people to give me strength" in the past, she said.
Coffey, who grew up in Australia, said what she saw of Chattanooga prior to Sunday's expo impressed her: the art district, the restored buildings, the winding Tennessee River and the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.
Of course, she had heard about the famous Choo Choo, she said.
"Are you kidding? It's the first thing I asked."
On Sunday, Coffey's driver made a special trip by the iconic hotel so she could provide a solid "yes" when asked by her Australian family: "Is there really a Choo Choo?"
Coffey currently has two books on store shelves — "It's Not Really About the Hair" and "Own It."
She was launched to stardom after appearing as a judge on the competitive hair styling show "Shear Genius," and has gone on to host "Tabatha's Salon Takeover" and "Tabatha Takes Over."
Coming soon, Bravo is scheduled to premiere her newest show, "Tabatha's Life Takeover."
On Sunday, in a green room at the convention center, Coffey said there isn't much she can say about the show, other than the obvious: sometimes she is harsh, but it's always with benevolent intentions, and is always pointed at helping others improve.
And that her new show "is going to be fantastic."
The SHE Expo was presented by the Times Free Press.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6480.