Jessica Cox is the founder of Third Culture Collective, a publicity, talent and events agency based out in Dubai, although she’s been quarantining herself over in the US. Initially she was in Brooklyn, NYC when the pandemic started to pose as a serious threat: “I ended up having to [isolate] in an Airbnb loft for two weeks, alone, but the longer I stayed the more unsafe it got. So, I made a judgement call to go somewhere with a lower risk rate, and flew to my best friend in Denver, Colorado where cases were significantly lower,” and she’s been there ever since. Three months and counting. Although Dubai is allowing residents to return, they are rejecting applications from those that are or were in the states with peak Covid cases – understandably. So basically, “I’ve been stuck in Denver, with my best friend which I’m grateful for. Cases are lower and the nature here is beautiful, so at least we can go out for hikes etc.”

Jessica is accustomed to a lot of travel, and her social and corporate structures depend on her ability to move freely, so she’s had to adapt: “it has been a bit of an adjustment but given that no one with in Dubai has been able to travel freely either – it does not really matter if I am zoom calling from my living room in Dubai or here. But the time difference does wear at you.” It has her up at all sorts of hours depending on what work needs to be done, so any sense of ‘normal’ routine is out the window. One constant, however, is that the second half of her day is dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement in Denver, “we spend a lot of time picking up/delivering supplies like water and hand sanitiser for protestors, protesting ourselves, and going to educational panels on how we can evolve our lifestyles to support the Black community. We’re [also] spending a lot more time educating ourselves and contributing to what is going on here.”

“Some positive changes [from isolation and Corona] is that it’s forced me to slow down, reassess and be more strategic about where to put my energy both personally and professionally,” explains Jessica. And when it comes to her business, Third Culture, it’s slowed down too – just like many of ours. When the pandemic first hit, and her team were still on board, she had more time on her hands: she would relax by cooking, doing puzzles, reading books, going outside to shoot a basketball/hike etc. Now however, the work is still at a point where it’s too much for one person, but too little to bring back team members yet. So, it keeps her busy.

Busy she certainly is. Jessica [and the Third Culture Collective] is committed to supporting UAE-based Black-owned businesses and Black creatives for free, with PR and profile management, in an attempt to “try and bring society steps closer to equality in our own backyard across two of my companies. We treat it as seriously as we do paying clients and so my plate is pretty full – so far we are working with eight applicants.”

Being so far away from home, and out of her comfort zone, I asked how she’s been staying creative and motivated right now: “for me, maintaining creative process is not linear, it is about keeping several wheels turning. So much of my work relies on creative process which is why I travel so often. It is really important for me to see what is out there, even outside of my industry, so that my mind is open to possibilities.” She also goes on to tell me about her strong support system, investing her energy in those whose path/life choices she respects and who respect her; “I am a bigger believer in that one is the summary of the five people they spend the most time with.” So, is no surprise that she’s also been working on a personal project – a platform with the goal to elevate and progress women based in the Middle East. “This is by far the most challenging in its structure to set up, compared to any of my previous ventures,” she tells me. “And, it’s set to launch in August – so hold the phone.”

Has Jessica been using social media to stay connected to friends and family? Does she think it’s been a helping hand during the current climate? “Social media is a tool,” she starts. “So, if you are inclined to obsess over other people’s lives or don’t have as much going on IRL, I can see how in a time of isolation that can be problematic. I tend to use social media platforms to express myself, [however], I think it’s always good to use [it] for resources around mental wellness, ideas of fun things to do when you are bored, and to stay connected with the outside world on a light level – so in that way it does help.”

Hopefully things will ease up soon, and Jessica can return home to Dubai, and be reunited with the three things she’s missing most: physical company of friends and family members, going out dancing, and meeting new people, face to face. Until then, she has fresh air/exercise, a change of scenery, and the companionship of her dogs and best friend to keep her sane.

Follow Jessica on INSTAGRAM.