Unpacking a thirty year "working friendship" with Loretta Lynn

The devil may wear Prada, and Carrie Bradshaw may wear Chanel, but America’s sweetheart of country music, Loretta Lynn, chooses the little-known label of Tim Cobb.

Lynn’s longtime designer and personal assistant Timothy Cobb is valued more than most of her fans would ever know. In fact, this good friend has been with her for over 30 years.

Lynn described his vital professional and personal role by commenting, “He is my best friend as for knowing each other after all these years. He is my personal assistant, but he does everything. He built my new museum and is the curator. He goes wherever I go. He does my hair and make-up too for appearances, but he also takes care of the houses.” She added, “He’s my companion and we fuss like brothers and sisters.”

Cobb originates from Jonesboro, Arkansas, and was raised in Lake City, Arkansas. The family business for two generations was row crop farming—soy beans, cotton, and watermelon.

It was obvious to Tim that he would not be part of the third generation of this farming operation. This, however, didn’t affect his family and personal relationships. He said, “I’ve had such a loving and supportive family and friends. I was never bullied.”

Tim’s sister was in beauty pageants, and this is where he heard his calling. When he realized the prices his sister’s fellow pageant members were paying for their gowns, it was clear to him that personal dress design had the potential to be a lucrative profession. With the help of his mother, he began to work on his designs. He then designed and sold his first dress at the age of 17.

See also: PHOTOS — Timothy Cobb and the iconic fashion style of Loretta Lynn

Cobb began his formal education the following year, attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California. He chose this over his other option—Parsons School of Design in NYC—since he had an aunt and uncle residing in Los Angeles.

After obtaining his Associates of Design degree in 1977, Cobb moved back to Jonesboro and opened his own custom design shop. Before Nashville, he worked in Dallas with Les Wilk Company as a pageant line designer.

When Cobb ventured to Nashville, he attended shows and approached managers pitching his work. One of those managers gave him a priceless tip: head to the Country Music Association for a directory of those in the industry. Armed with this valuable tool, Cobb wasted no time putting it to work for his career.

With backbone and moxie, Cobb went to see Loretta Lynn’s manager to show his work and see opportunities to dress this country music star. He was simply directed up some stairs to a room where Loretta herself was sitting. Cobb showed her his work. He was not expecting to sell the pieces, but to use them merely as examples of his work, so it was to his utter shock that Lynn purchased two of his designs on the spot.

The two clicked immediately, making it obvious to both that he was meant to be a part of her success and vice versa. They consider themselves lucky to have crossed paths. Where would each of them be without the other? It’s a question they couldn’t imagine answering.

Loretta put it best: “He’s my companion. We know what’s on the other one’s mind. We’re just like a brother and sister. We might fuss, but that ain’t nothing. We say we take care of each other.”

This sentiment was shared just as strongly by Cobb. “We're like siblings and look out for each other, and became almost a second family," he said.

Loretta Lynn adds, “Oh, we do fuss about anything just to aggravate. It’s been about not liking my hair or make-up he put on me at times. We’ll fuss when he is cooking stew, ‘cause I’ll tell him he’s puttin’ too much stuff in it!”

Loretta and Tim reside together in a dwelling located behind the historic mansion at The Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She described this arrangement, saying, “After Doo passed away, Tim came to stay full-time with me. He remodeled and built on this house. He designed my tour busses, and then my museum. I could ask him to do anything and he’d take care of it. I don’t have to worry. Seems we have been together forever and we always will. He built this house, and I live in one wing, and he lives in the other wing of it—but we always meet in the middle to fuss. Ha!”

The love and trust goes beyond everyday living, to include when they work together. Cobb appreciates that Lynn gives him a free hand and trusts that his designs will represent her stage presence and her music in a way that does them justice.

With this trust comes a responsibility, but it’s not too much for Cobb to carry. Cobb’s fashion-over-comfort inclination, has given Lynn her own heavy load to bear! She has become accustomed to the necessary evil of weighty designs made to be worn by, as Cobb says, a queen.

The best example of this is the iconic dress of golden beads, which came in at a shocking 75 pounds. When asked about the “heavy price of fashion,” Lynn stated, “When Tim started making my dresses, I got used to ‘em not being comfortable all the time, but I liked the way they looked so I would just wear them, but fuss with him to make the next one lighter.” She added, “We knew that gold bead dress was a one-time thing, like my last Grammy dress, so they went in my museum after I wore them.”

In the end, this team came together to help each other, whether in times of need, career development, fun, as a family, or for Tim to create the artworks in which Loretta Lynn performed her musical art.

They haven’t let fame ruin their down-to-earth personalities, and they possess humble attitudes, not taking any of it for granted. It’s more than evident that these two define teamwork and true friendship.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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