Curves, Cats, and Creams

Afraid of Swimsuit Season, Curvy Girls? Fear Not!

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Now that the winter finally seems to have exhausted itself (knocking on as many pieces of wood as I can find), next up is the season that many plus size girls dread so much that they’d prefer to wear snow boots year round: bathing suit season!

Although this is a nail-biting time for even the most slender of women, those with curves are usually the most in need of a manicure when trying to find a suit that is comfortable and flattering, yet makes the girls secure enough to enjoy some kick-ass body surfing without worrying about inadvertently flashing your fellow beach-goers (yes, that happened to me at the tender age of 16)!

I recently stumbled upon Nordstrom’s “Fit” category on their website, which helps shoppers of all sizes narrow down suits based on their specific fit goals instead of getting eye strain reading through hundreds of descriptions one by one, trying to learn what each suit does. There are options for enhancing and minimizing busts, creating a curvy silhouette, trimming tummies, and even accommodating a long torso. There is also a Swimsuit Fit Guide that shows you what body type each style is best for!

If you still can’t decide, Nordstrom’s Personal Stylists are at your beck and call. They will hold your hand through this treacherous journey and even have suits waiting for you upon your arrival. Book a one-on-one appointment through http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/personal-stylists?cm_sp=merch-_-corp_0218personalstylist-_-swpheaderleft_info&origin=header-left-promo or call your nearest store.

Visit Nordstrom at the link below to find your ideal suit and, of course, remember to visit your favorite Sephora for your perfect SPF protection before hitting that beach!

 

http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/womens-swimsuits-shop?origin=breadcrumb

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The Curvy Gods Have Answered Our Prayers; Boston Curvy Fashion Week 2015 is Officially on the Books!!!

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Full Figured Fashion Week in New York City is right around the corner and I am ecstatic that I am one of the lucky attendees! I am thrilled to be attending both as a blogger and as the PR manager for Dede Allure, the curvy couture designer who is rapidly becoming known as the “Curvy Coco Chanel” thanks to her timeless, classic designs that never go out of style.

Since New York City and Boston have slightly different attitudes toward fashion (NYC: “Something new? Great! Let’s do it!” Boston: “Something new? No, that’s too risky! Let’s keep doing what we’ve been doing for 20 years; it’s safer!” In other words, Boston has no balls when it comes to fashion!

That is all about to change, my fellow Bostonians! I’m writing this post 5 minutes after hearing the BEST news I’ve heard all year: Boston is finally acknowledging the curvy community and will host the very first Boston Curvy Fashion Week in 2015!!! As of now, the details are still being kept under wraps, although there are many sponsorship opportunities for this historic event, so contact the organizers at sponsor.bostoncurvyfashionweek@gmail.com to ensure that you don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to expand your curvy business.

I promise to keep you updated as new details are added. In the meantime follow the hashtags listed below.

 

Question of the day: Do you think Boston Curvy Fashion Week will be as successful as New York’s Full Figured Fashion Week? Why or why not?

 

‪#‎newenglandevents 

‪#‎boston

#bcfweek 

‪#‎curvy 

‪#‎curvygirls 

‪#‎plussize 

‪#‎effyourbeautystandards

#‎adornyourcurves 

‪#‎styleyourcurves 

‪#‎thickchick 

#‎psblogger 

‪#‎psfashion 

‪#‎syc 

‪#‎sycapproved 

#styleyourcurves 

#‎bostonstylist 

‪#‎bostonblogger

#‎plussizefashion 

#‎plusgirlswithstyle 

#‎celebratemysize 

‪#‎plusmodelmag

#‎plusmodelmagazine 

#‎fashionshow 

‪#‎vendors 

#‎sponsorship

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Brains, Beauty, and Talent Have All Aligned to Create Carmina Suzanne!

For blog Carmina Suzanne plus model

 

Spotted recently on the Parisian catwalk alongside curvy celeb Hayley Hasselhoff during Pulp Fashion Week, Carmina Suzanne is the perfect combination of brains, beauty, and talent. Along with being an editor at Fashion Maniac magazine, she is also a Harvard educated journalist and opera singer and actress. Read on to discover what I did when I interviewed this amazing Renaissance woman.

 

EM: Why did you choose to become a plus size model and what were some of the challenges you faced to achieve your goal?

CS: Well, I chose to become a model, and I am plus sized – so that part was easy. I was scouted in my early 20s by a famous American plus model, but had to stop for 10 years due to health problems. Only when I was in London for my opera career and my health issues had settled down did I try modeling again. And it’s been a dream come true!

Some of the challenges have to do with the industry in general, but the main problem in being plus is getting designers to make garments. It all starts and ends with the designers – all the booking agents, models, stylists, director, agents, scouts, etc, in the world can want to hire curvy models, but if the designers don’t pony up with the clothing, game over. So the more designers who break through their own small-minded prejudices, the faster the industry will move forward.

 

EM: How do you feel that your background as an opera singer and actress has helped your modeling career?

CS: For the most part, it’s been a huge help. Modeling and opera singing are very similar – you’re on stage using your body to tell a story, or sell a product. You need to be aware of every inch of your instrument and be in control to sing or model with correct technique. Also, I consider myself an artist, whether my medium is posing for photography or acting or dancing or singing or styling or cooking… it’s all to the same end. And, of course, fashion is a business, just like music, so you need to be organized, efficient, and on the ball, too.

 

EM: Since, unfortunately, some people still assume that models are beautiful yet stupid, is anyone ever surprised when you tell them you studied at Harvard University? Do you think that has helped or hurt your modeling career? Why?

CS: Yes, sometimes they do! I studied 7 languages, my IQ is in the 150s – and I know other models just as bright. However, some are dumb as rocks and some are in the middle – just like any other facet of life. A fashion marketing executive I knew once said to me “Well, I had brains so I left modeling and went into PR.” I asked her why she believed in that old stereotype… in Latin!

For the most part, it’s helped my career because I use my writing skills for fashion journalism, blogging, PR & marketing, fund raising and other writing-based parts of the industry. Also, since one of my degrees is in Gender Studies, I think about issues of body love and the societal pressures we put on bodies from an academic level.

 

EM: Who is your favorite designer and why?

CS: I really admire Tadashi Shoji because she doesn’t “ghettoize” her line – it starts at size 0 and goes up to size 24. I dislike when designers make a plus line but marginalize it to the side. The larger sizes should be as vibrant and integrated a part of any designer’s main line. Plus, her garments are gorgeous, flattering, and comfortable. Also, I’m a fan of Carmen Marc Valvo, Comme des Garçons, and D&G’s new Sicilian campaign.

 

EM: Why do you think so many designers do not want to create plus size clothes?

CS: Yeah, this is one of the dirty little secrets of the industry. Designers will tell you it’s because plus designs are more expensive to pattern block, or that plus garments are cut on the bias, or that they can’t find any plus mannequins, but that’s mainly nonsense. I have a friend in London who is a top designer, and he told me in confidence the real reason: no size 2 wants to walk down the street and see a “fatty” in the same outfit as her. So, many designers would rather keep their small, rich, thin clientele happy than design for 75% of the population.

 

EM: Having been involved in projects such as Confidence is the Key, do you think they have made an impact on how “beauty” is defined, especially in the modeling industry? Why or why not?

CS: Yes, big changes are happening, more slowly in some places than others. When I left London to return to my hometown of Buffalo, it was like walking backwards 15 years in time, at least as far as diversity in fashion in concerned. In London, I was a diversity advocate, working with The British Fashion Council and some government members to support diversity in fashion (for plus, mature, petite, and disabled models of all colors) but this pugnacious approach doesn’t work in a market that’s not ready for diversity. However, in Paris, plus models are really taking off and I had so much fun participating in one of the top plus shows in the world during Pulp Fashion Week earlier this month. I get letters from people all around the world telling me they hated their bodies, but seeing another model with a similar story really does change minds and hearts. It’s even saved lives in a few cases.

 

EM: What is your main job at Fashion Maniac magazine and what do you like best and least about it?

CS: I am one of the Managing Editors, and so far I’ve been doing collection reviews – most of the other staff are often out of town shooting all the various Fashion Weeks, so I’m one of the main writers right now. Loving it so far! I like to take my passion for fashion, a flair for writing, and a love of research and combine it into fun, clever, and informative fashion articles.

 

EM: Does Fashion Maniac magazine ever feature plus size fashion? Why or why not?

CS: Not specifically, although they do strongly support diversity in fashion and that’s one reason I’m glad to write for them. I am going to do an editorial shoot for Fashion Maniac soon as a model, so that will be great! I also write for Volup2, a high fashion plus magazine out of Paris. They feature curvy models of all sizes and colors, some with disabilities, in a very editorial, high fashion context. We need more of that!

 

EM: What would you say to critics who claim that encouraging women to accept their bodies will add to the obesity epidemic?

CS: Well, first of all, all professional working plus models are healthy. We all work out, we all watch our diets. We have to, that’s the demand of the job. I don’t care what size you are, to hold position on 6-inch stilettos for hours on end, you have to be fit. I do intense Pilates, free weights, tons of squats and lunges, and monitor my diet. So I do not see how that promotes obesity.

Secondly, when faced with this question, here’s what I say, “Can you name one single plus model who died from being obese? No, you can’t. How many thin models have died from anorexia? Here’s a list of 100s…”

That being said, my main concern is health. Not so much size, but shape and proportion. I don’t judge other people’s health from the outside, that’s between them and their doctor. I do think that too big is too big and too small is too small, but I don’t judge what that might be. Here it is; you cannot expect folks to get healthier by hating themselves. Women deserve beautiful, quality, flattering garments in any size. They deserve salespeople who treat them with respect. They deserve to enjoy themselves in the movies, or at the gym, or out dancing without shame and ridicule. When they love and accept themselves, they will become healthier. I think folks have it backwards; I think more self love and acceptance will decrease the obesity epidemic – which I do think is a serious problem, by the way.

 

EM: What are your hopes for yourself and the plus size fashion industry over the next 5 years?

CS: Some of my hopes for the industry are already coming true. I mean, when Robyn Lawley booked the Ralph Lauren campaign not as a plus model but as a model I really was happy! When magazines and designers and agencies start taking models, rather than specialist divisions, I will be pleased. I want to see more plus and curvy models at the top Fashion Weeks, and not just as a gimmick. Same goes for disabled and mature models.

For me personally? I want to book a major national campaign in the US! To get signed with one of the top agencies and to continue being a role model and inspiration for body and self love. With my health problems, I went through just about every kind of body hatred there is. I never ever thought I’d be this happy, confident, and balanced. If I can get there, so can you! I’ve modeled in London, NYC, Miami and Paris… next, Milano?!?

 

Find out more about Carmina through the links below!

 

Web: http://www.modelmayhem.com/1304751

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarminaSuzannePlusModel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarminPlusModel

Instagram: http://instagram.com/carminaplusmodel

 

Photo credit: Stanley Desbas

 

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This Saturday, Escape Image Consulting Crowns The Next Big Thing!

 

The latest and greatest; isn’t that what everyone wants? Well, here it is! Escape Image Consulting is hosting The Next Big Thing pageant this Saturday night in Dorchester and the winner will be crowned “Ms. Curvaceous Boston”.

Nicole Flynt, owner of Escape Image Consulting, explains why she created a pageant for women with curves. “In 2011, I entered into my first pageant, The ‘Ms. Voluptuous’ pageant in Cambridge, MA.  I was the 1st runner up and instantly fell in love with the art of pageantry. It built up my self-esteem and my confidence. Since then I’ve waiting for another pageant to no avail. I then decided, through my business Escape Image Consulting (EIC), to hold The Next Big Thing 2014! Escape Image Consulting will also later be hosting additional pageants that promote size acceptance, positive body imaging, and self-esteem building. “

Conceived in December 2012 by Nicole N. Flynt-Thomas and Danita Lee and located in Boston, MA, Escape Image Consulting understands the struggle of being curvaceous in today’s society. In addition to hosting pageants, Escape Image Consulting provides image consulting services that help women understand how to best dress their body types in the most flattering clothes and how to use makeup to enhance their unique beauty and self-esteem. Another service offered is the monthly “Making of a Diva” seminar that teaches runway walking, posing, makeup, wig skills, and self-worth workshops.

I’m also super excited that Denise Schwartz-Gaeta, the very first Ms. Massachusetts Plus America and the curvy fashion designer Dede Allure, who is quickly becoming known in the industry as the “Curvy Coco Chanel”, is joining forces with Escape Image Consulting to choose the winner of The Next Big Thing.

Denise echoes Nicole’s sentiment, “As Ms. Massachusetts Plus America 2014 and through my fashion brand, Dede Allure, I feel it is so important to support events such as The Next Big Thing that encourage women of all shapes and sizes to recognize their own unique beauty, so I’m very excited to join forces with Nicole and help decide who will be Ms. Curvaceous Boston.” Denise will also be competing for the title of “Ms. Plus America 2014” in Atlanta, GA, on July 4th of this year.

Taking place on Saturday, May 17th, at 7 PM in the Frank G. Russell Auditorium at 70 Talbot Ave in Dorchester, MA, this pageant will feature women with beauty, intelligence, class, and curves. In addition to the coveted title of “Ms. Curvaceous Boston”, the winner will receive prizes such as a modeling contract with TNT Modeling Agency in Yonkers, NY, two photo shoots by Zioneye and INterracial INspirations, the opportunity to walk in couture plus size designer Dede Allure’s upcoming “Runway The Real Way” fashion show in NYC, hosted by Catherine Schuller Enterprises, LLC, while sporting her unique black diamond ring, as well as the privilege of walking in “Rock Your Curvy Style” fashion show in Hollywood, CA, this October produced by curvy celebrity/actress Cher Rue.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting Nicole Flynt at (617) 637-6382 and cost $25 before the event and $30 at the door.

 

 

Escape Image Consulting:

Web: http://www.escapeimage.com/#!home/mainPage

Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Escape-Image-Consulting-EIC/414875278609224

Google + at https://plus.google.com/u/0/102682543542983356765/posts

Tumbler at http://escapeimage.tumblr.com/

Dede Allure:

Web: http://www.dedeallure.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DedeAllure

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dede.allure?fref=ts

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/denise-gaeta/14/443/780

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Meet The Face of Full Figured Fashion Week, Bree Woodley!

#FFFWEEK

I was so honored to speak with Bree Woodley, the Face of Full Figured Fashion Week, taking place in New York City from and I quickly realized that she will definitely be someone to shake up the curvy industry. Read on to find out why!

EM: Why did you choose to become a plus size model and what do you like best and least about it?

BW: I am a natural model; I’m not associated with any modeling agencies. I’m just a photographer who enjoys being my own subject; with the exception of my latest modeling work, mostly images of myself, I’ve photographed. I guess a more direct way to answer this question is that I enjoy the freedom of being freelance.

EM: What were some of the challenges you faced when auditioning for Face and who was your biggest supporter?

BW: I didn’t feel much challenge. I believe that this was predestined for me. Everything fell into place accordingly, which made me even more sure that this was my golden opportunity. It happened so organically. It was beautiful working on my audition tape; I wrote and composed the video myself. If I search hard to find the real challenge, it would be conveying a message in a short, sweet 2 minutes.

My support first comes from within, but my family always keeps it real with me and their support is immeasurable. I decided to go out for this competition because I felt so connected to the responsibility and the legacy behind the Face and Full Figured Fashion Week. I’m beyond happy I trusted my intuition.

EM: How do you feel that your studies in media arts and journalism at Long Island University have helped your career?

BW: My classes have definitely enhanced my interpersonal skills and I’ve met some amazing people. No one can teach you how to be uniquely you, but my classes help me understand the layout of my field and I add my special “stardust” in my approach.  I’m a natural extrovert and each day when I encounter people I try to make personal connections, especially in this day and age where things can easily become so impersonal. 

 

EM: What do you hope to do after you graduate from Long Island University?

BW: I look forward to graduating but I’m not necessarily waiting on graduation to accomplish what I set out to accomplish. Every day is a day for me to make power moves and connections. Once I graduate I only hope to be more evolved and better situated.

EM: Who is your favorite designer and why? 

BW: I don’t really have a favorite designer. I love to thrift shop because I love vintage wears. But lately, my eye has been on some upcoming designers. I love the direction in which clothing for plus women is going.  The designers behind Rue 114 and Jibri are so dope. I love their collection this season.

EM: Why do you think so many designers do not want to create plus size clothes?

BW: Sadly, it takes real balls to go against the grain and try something different. That’s why I respect all the innovative designers and pioneers of the game, not only in the plus community but industries in general. The idea of an inclusive community makes me so happy.

EM: What is Fryezone, why did you choose to become involved with it, and what do you hope to achieve through it?

BW: Fyrezone is a nonprofit organization that works with inner city middle school kids, helping them discover expression through music and art. The CEO, Bud Ramsay, is a very close friend of mine and he is extremely committed to this project. Fyrezone acts as a therapeutic outlet, since many of our kids carry heavy burdens in their personal life and the time spent enjoying themselves creatively is a great release. I am so honored to be involved in something so special.

EM: What advice would you give to aspiring plus size models?

BW: To anyone who wants to be noticed, as a model, photographer, etc, my advice to them is just to be sure of yourself. Be ready to not compromise just to fit a set standard if its not befitting to you. Also, never treat any situation as simply the means to an end because you will never get the most out of that situation. Spend time developing yourself mentally, physically, rationally, and emotionally because this industry comes with hard hits and you gotta duck and roll with the punches. I apply this to myself every day.

EM: What would you say to critics who claim that encouraging women to accept their bodies will add to the obesity epidemic?

BW: I’m strong in my promotion of  healthy living. I just don’t like when people become too critical. The encouragement shouldn’t be only getting to size 4/6, it should be in the promotion of self love. I’m not trying to be skinny, I’m trying to be healthy and a size 4 doesn’t necessarily equal good health. We just have to respect our bodies and take care of ourselves.

EM: What are your hopes for yourself and the plus size fashion industry over the next 5 years?

BW: I have high expectations for myself and the industry over the next 5 years. I can go on forever about my plan to bring it… but for now… just stay tuned.. I’m so excited for June!

Find out more about Bree on:

Web: http://fffweek.com/2014/the-face-of-fffweek/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bree-Woodley/288924137932765

To view the schedule and purchase tickets for Full Figured Fashion Week, visit: http://fffweek.com/2014/schedule-tickets/

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Spring, Winter, Spring, Winter; Whichever Way the Wind Blows, Be Prepared With London Fog!

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I have lived in New England all my life and I cannot remember a year in which I was still wearing my winter coat at the end of April. Of course, that was a week after I spent the day outside in a sleeveless top. Clearly, Mother Nature is going through a serious indecisive phase!

Thankfully, London Fog has solved the dilemma of curvy girls dealing with bi-polar weather by creating this chic, fashionable, and versatile trench coat. Available in sizes XS to 3X, this double-breasted, water-resistant, machine washable trench flatters any shape with its removable belt. Best of all, it has a detachable liner to take off when the sun finally starts to shine and to put back on 10 minutes later when the wind throws a hissy fit.

Visit Nordstrom at the link below to save 40% and tell Mother Nature to bring it on!

 

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/london-fog-heritage-trench-with-detachable-liner-plus-size/3559555?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=&resultback=5000&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-browseresults-_-1_14_D

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Thrifty Curves Rejoice!

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With spring finally just around the corner, which one of us can resist the urge to purge? Our closets, that is. Out with the bulky sweaters and in with the carefree tank tops!

Then that annoying, persistent voice in your head keeps repeating the most dreaded five words in the English language, “But I can’t afford it!” All your excitement dies away and you’re left wondering if your sewing skills are good enough to turn that bulky sweater into a carefree tank top.

Put the scissors down, curvy ladies and gents, and come to third annual Big Thrifty event instead. On Saturday, May 3rd, from 12-5 PM, you can live out your spring wardrobe fantasies by spending no more than $10 on each thrifted item at this one-day bargain event. $5 at the door allows you access to hundreds of items, all for women and men sizes XL and up. Bring your own shopping bag and you’ll receive an additional $1 off your total purchase, not to mention brownie points with the earth for being green.

You will also be able to shop at the unique pop-up store from The Thicky Chicky, a normally online-only plus size clothing boutique, and splurge on “glam vintage” outfits, including stunning creations by Bodycon, a hot curvy brand known especially for their illusion-like dresses that cleverly fool the eye.

While you’re building your fabulous new wardrobe, you’ll also be enjoying music by Kerr Griffin, a Boston-area singer/songwriter known for his body-positive lyrics, which will be the perfect compliment to the intro-level yoga, belly dancing (with Nadira Jamal of Belly Dance Somerville), and burlesque classes offered in a private classroom. 

Last but not least, you can worship with The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a modern order of queer nuns that include people of all gender associations, spiritual affiliations, and proclivities who do good works. The sisters will be there throughout the entire event and will even be on hand for photo-ops with you and your Big Thrifty scores. 

This year’s Big Thrifty event will be located at 420 Pearl St.in Malden, MA, the home of Triangle, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with disabilities by providing programs such as their “award-winning School-to-Career program for young adults with disabilities, comprehensive employment training and planning services for individuals with disabilities, an award-winning television show called Ablevision, a medical manufacturing facility, a contract fulfillment center, and a café that are staffed by trainees.” Learn more about Triangle’s mission and how you can get involved at the link below.

Of course, don’t forget to bring those new or gently used clothes hanging neglected and unloved in your closet; they are sure to find a good home with a fellow shopper! Please try to drop them off at Triangle between 12 and 2 so they can be organized and displayed appropriately. 

If you’re feeling charitable, please email thebigthrifty@gmail.com and tell them that you want to volunteer for this spectacular event. Not only will your services be greatly appreciated, you’ll also get a sneak peek at the goodies and won’t have to pay the admission fee. Talk about a sweet deal!

The Big Thrifty event is easily accessible by public transportation via Wellington station on the Orange line and a free shuttle van will be making round-trips throughout the day to and from the event. There is also plenty of free parking in the lot next to Triangle and the venue does have elevator access.

A few final notes: please do not wear perfume, cologne, or scented lotion, as many of the participants will be sensitive to them. Photography is only allowed at the photo booth, so please do not take any crowd shots. Finally, this event is cash only, so make sure to stop at the ATM before arriving so you don’t miss out on anything!


http://www.triangle-inc.org/

thethickychicky.com

kerrgriffin.com

thebostonsisters.org

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Le Dame Footwear Believes That Curvy Feet Deserve Beautiful Shoes, Too!

For blog Le Dame Shoes

As many of you know, I have a size 12 foot and have always struggled to find shoes. My mother, God bless her, always reminds me that, at 5′ 10″ tall, I would fall over if I had small, dainty, girly feet! Intellectually, I know she has a point; it’s just so hard when I badly want to wear the cute strappy sandals or elegant heels that I see on shows like Sex and the City and my feet will only let me wear ugly men’s shoes (sorry, guys, but come on).

Thankfully, Bernie Fatla, founder of Le Dame Footwear, heard the prayers of my tootsies and jumped into action, creating a brand of fashionable shoes in larger sizes to fit the needs of the cross-dressing, transgender, drag queen, and female consumers. Read on to learn how he was able to fill this massively huge void in the footwear market.

 

1. Question: What was your previous experience in fashion and how did it lead you to founding Le Dame Footwear?

Answer: I have over 30 years of experience in the footwear business, both as a buyer and as a Merchandise Manager, with a small retail chain of 15 stores that grew and expanded to over 900  stores in the 26 years that I worked for them.  I have traveled to China, India, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and Indonesia, working with various shoe factories as well as the principle players at many brand name shoe companies such as Skechers, Florsheim, Stacy Adams, Johnston & Murphy, Nettleton, Sole 9, Mojo Moxy, and Kenneth Cole,  just to name a few.  I also traveled across the US and around the world, shopping high-end stores in Florence, London, Hong Kong, southern California, etc, looking at what is in style; what is happening on the street, if you will.

 

2. Question: Other than an extended size range, what do you feel is Le Dame Footwear’s biggest point of difference?

Answer: We bring quality as well as fashion to the large size range; we have never tried to save a few cents in making our shoes. We always strive to use American leathers and YKK, the best zippers we can buy. Also, since we’ve started working with a factory here in the US, we are able to offer custom, bespoke, if you will, colors and fabrications. Someone who wears a size 13 men’s or 15 women’s shoe has never had the ability to think about designing, much less actually be able to design their own specific shoes. We try our best to make sure all of our customers find what they need. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service and we want to make sure that they love their Le Dame shoes.

 

3. Question: What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting Le Dame Footwear and how did you overcome it?

Answer: Finding a factory in China that understood what we were trying to do. I was not looking to just make the shoes bigger; I also wanted them to fit a masculine foot. After 4 tries, we finally found a factory that understood what we wanted to do. Persistence, I guess, was what allowed us to finally get over that hurdle, along with my good friend, Ed Tognoni, who helped me a a great deal.

 

4. Question: Who was your biggest supporter?

Answer:  I would have to say my wife, Sharon, and son, Zach.  They encouraged me and have always been there for support. I could not have done it without them.

 

5. Who was Le Dame Footwear’s biggest competition for the “O” Award for “Best Outstanding Apparel or Accessory Brand” and why do you think you won?

Answer: There were 10 companies nominated and I think the biggest ones were Shirley of Hollywood, which has been around for 40+ years, Pleasure Shoes, and Coquette lingerie company as well. I think we won because we were doing something very different; we were going after a niche market that was not being directly addressed and the voters were looking for something unique. I think that’s also the reason why we are still successful today!

 

6. Question: What is your favorite piece in the current collection and why? 

Answer: My most favorite item is the LILY  from our “Made in California” collection, a very sexy strappy sandal with a 4″ heel that is an absolutely beautiful shoe. We have had a number of orders for it in a wide variety of colors and materials.  For our customers who love this type of heel, we are hoping to also offer it in a boot very soon.

7. Question: Why do you think so many designers do not want to create larger size shoes?

Answer: That is an interesting question. I think part of it, luckily for me, is that they just do not think there is a market for them. But I think it’s more that retailers do not want to address the issue; as a result, manufacturers don’t want to invest in the development to address the customer who wears a size 12 and is just as fashionable as the one who wears a size 8. Our feeling at Le Dame Footwear is that every foot deserves a beautiful shoe. That is also how I feel in my soul.

 

8. Question: Do you think Le Dame would be successful on the East coast? Why or why not? 

Answer: Yes, I have no reason to think we won’t be, since we ship our shoes world wide. There is no area of this country that does not need the type of footwear that we at Le Dame Footwear provide.

9. Question: What would you say to the critics who claim that encouraging women to accept their bodies will add to the obesity epidemic?

Answer: Although I am not smart enough to know all of the issues related to obesity, I do know that being larger is not necessarily associated with being obese. I have customers who wear a size 14, 15, or 16 and are not obese, but simply larger women that are in very good shape and still want pretty, feminine, sexy, comfortable shoes. This also applies to the cross dressing market; again, at Le Dame Footwear, we believe that every foot deserves a beautiful shoe.

 

10. What are your hopes for Le Dame and yourself over the next 5 years?

Answer: Oh my, that is easy! I want the whole world to know my name.  Or at least Le Dame Footwear’s name! But really I want people to know that we are committed to bringing fashionable footwear to the marketplace for anyone who wants or needs a fashionable shoe in a larger size. If we are still here 5 years from now, Emma, I’ve/we’ve done our job. That will be the test.

 

Web: http://ledame.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ledamefootwear

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ledamefootwear

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Meet Emme, The Very First Curvy Supermodel – Ever!

For blog Emme

I was so incredibly blessed to interview the very first curvy model, Emme Aronson! She is truly an inspiration to every woman out there, curvy or not, on what your life can be is you want it badly enough. Her favorite quote says it all: “Be bold, for mighty forces will sustain you” – Goethe.

 

1. Question: Since you were originally drawn toward sports and television, why did you choose to become a plus size model and what were some of the challenges you faced to achieve your goal?

Answer: I really wanted to be the next Johnny Carson, so I became a news affiliate. After awhile, I realized how much certain stories affected and stayed with me, and I knew it was too much so I crossed over from journalism to advocacy in the mid-90s. As an advocate for women and girls, I was sent around the world and realized that no matter where I went, women had almost the exact same problems with body image and acceptance.

It took a lot of time before I realized that this issue is a women’s issue, not a size issue, since all women have issues with their bodies, no matter what size they are, and the one common thread running through all of our lives was that we look outside ourselves for acceptance.

 

2. Question: I was appalled when I learned how your stepfather, Bill, drew lines on your body where he thought you needed to lose weight. Did he eventually accept you the way you are?

Answer: My mother was beautiful and tall, just bigger-boned than her smaller friends. She married Bill, who was obese and used to purge and diet. When he drew those lines, he said he was doing it out of love because he didn’t want me to go through what he did being overweight. Even later, when I was an adult, he used to ask me all the time how much I weighed, even after I asked him to stop doing that. Eventually, I realized that he was never going to change and I didn’t want such a negative influence in my life, so I wrote him a letter severing ties with him for good.

 

3. Question: Having been raised in both Saudi Arabia and in America, what did you find were some of the biggest differences those 2 cultures had toward women’s bodies? Why do you think they were so different?

Answer: I didn’t get much of a chance to interact with the local women in Saudi Arabia, since they usually had burkas (full body veils) on and were not very approachable. I did find it a little strange that, as a young, single woman, I had more rights than older, married women.

Later, I wanted to make sure that whatever voice they do have is heard and started talking about plus size women on TV which had really never been done at that time. I was stunned to receive a flood of amazing feedback from like-minded women that has continued to this day.

 

4. Question: What were some of the most powerful responses, either positive or negative, that you received to your book, True Beauty—Positive Attitudes & Practical Tips from the World’s Leading Plus Size Model?

Answer: When the book first came out in 1996, many avid readers had never heard the term “plus size” or knew that plus size models even existed within the uber-thin modeling industry. Women who were not yet connected to healing their self-hatred either rejected the book or, oppositely, embraced it and shared it with their friends. Readers and reviewers were polarized, which really tells of the time it was published. I also felt very vulnerable writing about such personal events in my young life, especially as far as my body image was concerned, although I knew how important it was to do so because only a very, very few people were speaking about such things back then.

 

5. Question: I loved your article in Huffington Post about former Mayor Bloomberg’s “I AM A GIRL: I’m beautiful the way I am,” campaign. What would you say to critics who claim that encouraging women to accept their bodies will add to the obesity epidemic?

Answer: With so many women not liking the body they were given, a happy, balanced life is highly unattainable – which is a total waste of a good life while you have one on this earth. To change, we need to be less critical of ourselves, which will make us less critical of others. This way, fewer people will point fingers at others, they in turn will feel more secure in their own image, people will take better care of their mental, physical, and spiritual health, and those who live on the extreme (either extremely thin or quite large) will be left to deal with their own issues in their own time. There is no question that all the of the girls in the “I AM A GIRL” campaign were adorable and cute in their own beautiful way. No one can take that away from them and in no way does it promote or encourage obesity. In fact, it encourages women and girls to accept themselves, which leads us to feel better and do more to that end. Nothing wrong with that! Through neglect and not providing empowerment, all things wither away and die.

 

6. Why do you think so many designers do not want to create plus size clothes? Do you think things like Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign will change their minds?

Answer: I think that Mayor Bloomberg’s “I AM A GIRL” campaign, championed by Mayor Bloomberg’s former deputy press secretary Samantha Levine, definitely opened eyes, having been so well received by people and the media. I’m not sure, however, that it created the desire within the fashion industry to create cute clothes for younger women above a size 12. Change really takes place when we educate young designers from the beginning to design clothes for all women on small and large dress forms. This way, upon graduation, all designers expect to design for all without limitations. I am spearheading such an initiative this fall at Syracuse University VPA’s School of Fashion Design. Check out EmmeNation and join the newsletter to stay in our loop.

I also created EmmeNation’s Adventure Series: EmmeCruise, May 10-17, 2014 to Bermuda,  is designed to swoop us up out of our typical day-to-day life to experience with 7 nights of peace, rest, movement, and fun. To give us the exclusive opportunity to meet an extraordinary collection of expansive thinkers, revolutionary shape shifters, try new body+mind+soul exercises, meet like-minded new friends, be waited on, be served, and to re-enter our lives refreshed, renewed, and infused with a new lease on life. 

Call it what you want: girlfriend get-away, retreat, or “time for just me”, join us to create memories you’ll want to repeat for years to come. 

 

7. Question: Who is your personal favorite designer and why?

Answer: I love Donna Karan, her sense of grace and flow in everything she creates for a woman’s body. You can find all aspects of your personality in Donna’s clothes; the sexy vixen, the corporate CEO, the modern art dealer, and the woman with flair, adventure, and peace. All of Donna’s pieces from Donna Karan and Urban Zen are like wearable art. Her sensibility and style for the modern woman is what attracts me to her collections decade after decade.

 

8. I absolutely agree with what you said in your “commencement speech” about living in the present moment. Why do you think it often takes a life-changing event like cancer to make people realize how important that is?

Answer: Sometimes we need a jolt to shake ourselves out of complacency. The only thing that’s consistent is change.

 

9. If your 12-year-old daughter, Toby, chose to go into modeling or acting, what advice would you give her?

Answer: I’d advise her to choose projects wisely and know what her comfort boundaries are; she needs to know what the right choices are for her, not for anyone else. If she decided to model, I would want her to go with an agency that represents all sizes, not just straight or plus.

 

10. What are your hopes for yourself, your daughter, and the plus size fashion industry over the next 5 years?

Answer: My hope for my daughter is that she’s happy in the life she has created for herself and through her friendships, that she gets through puberty pretty much unscathed by the harshness of adolescence in 2014, which is much different than when I grew up in 1974!

The hope I have for myself is to continue to forge forward and be a light and source of inspiration to try, do, and believe that all things are possible with a little faith and elbow grease; to NEVER GIVE UP.

For the 12+fashion industry, my hope is to continue to see a blurring of the line that tries to separate us, but be seen to represent a fresh vein of opportunity as an extension of  the fashion industry’s reach. The benefits are tenfold…namely by empowering more young women and their mothers in seeing beautifully diversified images of beauty consistently reflected back to them creates higher self acceptance. Which we all can use, right?

Web: http://www.emmenation.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EmmeNation

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/emmenation/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EmmeNation

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/EmmeNation

 

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Do You Like Leather or Lace? No Matter; Club Plush Tampa Has Both!

For blog Chica Plush

 

Recently, I was fortunate enough to interview Miss Janelle Brito, AKA Chica Plush, the marketing director of Club Plush Tampa, who gave me an inside look at this premier curvy club in Tampa, Florida. Read on to hear more about how Tampa’s curves like to party!

 

1. What is Club Plush’s biggest point of difference? 

At Club Plush, it’s a nightclub of size-acceptance. Where plus size/full figured people can go out and be completely comfortable because there is no judgment or ridicule because of their size. They are among their peers; therefore, they have an opportunity to meet people who like them as they are and possibly meet someone of interest who appreciate their curves.

 

2. Why did you choose to become the marketing director of Club Plush?

Originally, the owner, Chris Plush, was running Club Plush in Tampa and, when he had to move to California, he handed the club over to my sister, Latin Breeze. Since I have marketing experience, I automatically became involved in co-running Club Plush. Being the marketing director for Club Plush has opened up many doors to opportunities in the plus-size community. Although marketing for Club Plush is something I do part-time, it is definitely the job I enjoy most!

 

3. What do you do during a typical day at Club Plush and what do you like best and least about your position?

On the day of a BBW (big, beautiful women) & BHM (big, handsome men) party, my sister and I run errands to get the venue ready for our event. By the time we open at 9 pm, the venue is must be cleaned, decorated, the DJ must be done testing the sound system, and the fliers for the next party must be displayed throughout the bar and lounging areas.

The best part of my position is greeting everyone that comes to Club Plush. Whether they’re a new or regular patron, I do my best to greet them all and spend time talking with them.

Another part I like is taking pictures with individuals and of the crowd. The following Monday, I post the pics from Saturday’s party; everyone looks forward to seeing them and making their comments.

The thing I like least about my position are the many hours spent listing each event on all the websites to market the party. Once they’re all established, then it’s smooth sailing!

 

4. What are some of the reactions you’ve gotten from being the cover model of the year for LargeInCharge Magazine?

It was amazing to see all the support and positive feedback I got from everyone that voted. It made me feel very proud and honored that so many people looked up to me. They told me how I inspired them and helped in building their self-esteem and that being plus size or full figured is nothing to be ashamed of. I had no clue I had such an impact on the plus size community and it honestly brought me to tears.

 

5. How did the “Cupid and Curves” event on February 15th go and what are some of your events coming up?

The “Cupid & Curves Red Dress Party” was a hit! It was great to see so many people dressed in red. Taking pics of everyone, especially the group shots, was fun. It looks so festive when they dress up in themed costumes. The next event coming up is our Leather & Lace party this Saturday, April 12th. My Club Plush sister, Nina WickedRican, had a Leather & Lace themed Club Plush party when she was visiting Brooklyn, New York, last year, so that’s what inspired us to have one in Tampa, FL. Club Plush Tampa hopes for another good turnout, as in the past events, especially with so many lovely and classy BBWs wearing leather or lace! This is going to be one sexy party!!

 

Author’s note: See link below for details on this Saturday’s Leather & Lace party!

 

6. Do you think Club Plush would be successful in Boston? Why or why not?

Definitely! The success has already been proven by Bill Albrecht, who runs Club Ample in the Boston area. From what I was told, he always has a packed BBW club! If Club Plush wanted to host an event in Boston, it would be a collaboration with Bill and would have a fantastic impact on the plus size community.

Club Plush not only has parties in Tampa, FL but in San Jose and Sacramento, CA. Two of our Club Plush team members hosted a party in Brooklyn, NY, and another one Allentown, PA. Wherever a Club Plush team member travels, we try to host an event in that city. I try to do the same thing when I visit Houston, TX, in September of each year.

 

7. What would you say to the critics who claim that encouraging people, especially women, to accept their bodies will increase the obesity epidemic?

The claim that encouraging plus size people to accept their bodies will increase obesity is absurd. Everyone’s situation is circumstantial; their weight gain could be from heredity, medication side affects, giving birth, depression, etc. There are so many reasons why people are overweight and the plus size community doesn’t encourage people to gain weight; rather, we encourage them to love the skin they’re in and to not be ashamed of it. As a group, we try to encourage each other to be healthy and more social by hosting events other than meeting up at a nightclub, such as fashion shows, pageants, picnics, Zumba classes, etc.

Every “body” is different. We come in all shapes and sizes. There are many plus size women and men that are healthy. They exercise and make good choices in their eating habits, yet they are not a size 2. Some people actually prefer to be thick, voluptuous, and curvaceous. Also, being thin doesn’t necessarily mean a person is healthy either! In the plus size community, we do encourage weight loss especially if it’s to improve on their health. There are many local support groups that get together every so often to exercise and join a diet regime. Melissa Elizabeth is a great example; she’s a health coach that promotes HerbaLife and has local meet-ups in the Tampa Bay area where people get together to exercise for an hour or so.

 

8. What are your hopes for yourself, Club Plush, and the plus size industry over the next 5 years?

In the next five years, I hope to see the plus size industry become more mainstream and accepted in society. As for myself and my Club Plush team, we hope to grow Club Plush and become more involved in the plus size community aside from running a nightclub.

 

Web: http://www.clubplushtampa.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chicaplush?fref=ts

Leather & Lace party info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1416723455250372/

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