Curvy CEO Asks: How Do You Define Happiness? (In Six Words or Less)

curvyceoasks In yesterday's Monday Morning Memo, we asked the hard question - "Whose life are you living anyway?"

Today, I pose a follow-up question that I challenge you to answer in six words or less - how do YOU define happiness?

If you're a working mom, it could simply be: Happy kids. Clean House.
If you're a recent college grad, it might be: Starting my life on my own terms.

Right now, for me, despite all of the accolades and accomplishments in my professional life, I've decided that happiness for me is simply this: Quality time with family and friends.
Yep. That's really about it.
What about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, on Facebook or Twitter.

And, just in case you're not sick of this song yet (because I'm not), enjoy the music!


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Monday Morning Memo – Whose Life Are You Living, Anyway?

NEW monday-morning-memo "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life." - Steve Jobs

I'm no Steve Jobs fan (although I must admit that I *do* heart my iPhone). But when I read this quote recently, I had to take a moment to think. In the midst of stacking up a laundry list of credentials...going to the "right" schools, getting the "right" jobs, and trying to mix and mingle with the "right" people...I had to ask myself, "Whose life are you living, anyway? Are you happy? Are you doing things that you actually find fulfilling OR the things that you are 'supposed' to be doing?"

The results of that inquiry were scary. Like, doing-the-ugly-cry scary.

We only get one shot at this thing called life, ladies. While there are things you absolutely must do to keep a roof overhead, let's be sure not to getting so caught up in the things we "have to do" that we forget to pursue the things we "want to do." And it doesn't even have to be something grand or massive like traveling the world or getting a tattoo. Maybe it's something as simple as carving a half hour out of your week to read a short story from that Maya Angelou anthology that you purchased after you found out she passed away earlier this year. Or, finding a little inspiration by watching some plus-size fashion videos like those taken by yours truly. (See what I did there?) Whether great or small, let's all take steps towards making our "someday" happen some time this week.

What steps will YOU take this week towards living the life YOU have designed for yourself? Please share in the comments section!

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GarnerStyle Is #BoycottingTarget – Will You?

Last week, when I saw that a preview of the Joseph Altuzarra for Target collection was available, I didn't even bother to look. I knew that it wouldn't include any clothes to fit my size 22 frame - and I was right. After all, Target has a history of excluding larger sizes in their designer collaborations. Also, in recent months we have seen the massive chain take steps to phase out revamp its plus-size offerings. (See Jezebel's piece, The Mysterious Disappearance of Target's Plus-Size Section, Explained .) When fuller-figured customers are fortunate enough to find plus-size clothes at their Target, they must still contend with online insults from the retailer, such as being referred to as half-ton sea cows (aka "manatees") or fielding the online equivalent of "When are you due?"

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And, of course, there was the infamous thigh-gap photoshop disaster from earlier this summer. Well, Chastity of GarnerStyle has had enough. Tired of being "made to feel like a second-class customer," she penned an open letter on her blog and declared: "All I want is the clothing you offer all your other regular sized customers, but you always leave me out. With that being said, I have to end this relationship. It’s you, not me and for my own well-being and my self dignity I have to sever ties between us....I will be personally boycotting Target altogether. No more housewares, grocery shopping, electronics...nothing....You may ask, 'Is there any way I will take you back?' I will take you back, when and only when, you include true plus sizes in your designer range collaborations. Until then, I will take my money elsewhere."

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This is a bold course of action that is already gaining momentum on social media. When I examine the evidence, I, too, am forced to join the cause. Admittedly, this will cause me some personal inconvenience as there is a Target that I frequent right up the street. However, it is my hope that the collective action of the plus-size community - which generated $17.5 BILLION in fashion sales alone between April 2013 and April 2014 - will demonstrate to Target and other retailers that we are a demographic that matters and that will no longer be ignored. But, in order for Target to believe that, we must believe it as well. I'm in. Are you?

UPDATE: It looks like the movement is gaining more and more attention, which will hopefully translate into more awareness and action. Check out these articles from Refinery 29, Fashion Bomb Daily, Style Blazer, and Madame Noire. Congrats Chastity on sparking this movement!!

Big Announcement!!!

We've brought you bootcamps and brunch, lingerie shopping parties and clothing swaps. We even brought you our own line of inspirational products. Now, drawing upon my extensive training at The School of Style Curvy CEO is expanding to bring you PERSONAL STYLING SERVICES!!! CURVY CEO STYLING SERVICES LOGO The primary component of these services will be virtual styling, thanks to the genius of Keaton Row - an online personal styling company that emerged from the needs of two stylish, yet time-starved fashion-craving Harvard Business School grads. Basically, I am able to create customized looks for individual clients based on their needs; clients are then able to shop directly through the site for the selected items! Here is an example of a very basic look I put together in response to one of the most frequently asked questions I receive here at Curvy CEO:

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO MY JOB INTERVIEW?

what to wear to job interview - kr

Top, L to R: Louben Seamed Jacket ($358.00); ASOS Curve Women Cami ($15.48); Kate Spade New York Small Square Stud Earrings ($38.00); Lafayette 148 New York "Menswear" Trousers ($278.00). Bottom, L to R: Eileen Fisher Pencil Skirt ($168.00); Juliet & Company Minuit Choker Necklace ($60.00); Rebecca Minkoff Medium Tote ($265.00); Sofft Altessa Pump ($89.95).

For full details and shopping info, click here!

As an added bonus, I sprinkle in style tips to show why I selected what I selected for each collection. Of course, this is just one offering. Keaton Row offers a broad range of brands and styles at various price points. Interested in having me create a customized look just for you? CLICK HERE! Curvy CEO's personal styling services will also feature two other components just for clients in the DC metropolitan area. First, there is the closet consultation. Through this service, Curvy CEO will help you "shop your own closet" by editing out those things that no longer have a place there and learn how to create new outfits from clothes you already own! A closet consultation is the ultimate gift for the girl who has everything (yet still has nothing to wear)!

The other option is one of my personal favorites - the shopping consultation. Through this service, clients and I will literally GO shopping! Through this interactive session, clients will gain insight into what works best for their particular body types, budgets, goals, and lifestyles. While a client may not necessarily make any purchases during a shopping consultation, she will walk away armed with essential knowledge that will enable her to shop more confidently in the future! Interested in becoming a personal styling client of Curvy CEO? Just fill out the form on my styling services page and let's get started!!!


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Event Alerts!

Hey Everyone - Just a quick drive-by post to let you know about a few great fashion events that are happening this month in the Washington, DC area! First up is the Purity W/Style Lifestyle Brand Launch Party, which is happening THIS Thursday at 6:30pm at The Loft at 600F. puritywithstyle-august 2014 Purity W/Style is a lifestyle brand and blog with the mission of representing purity in all things BOLD, SEXY & CHIC and maintaining relevancy in the worlds of fashion highlighting the release of Purity W/Style's t-shirt line, beauty, music and social media. Thursday's event will feature a fashion show, music, giveaways, custom mocktails, sweet treats, and beauty services. Also guests arriving before 7pm will receive a special gift! Oh, and did I mention that it's FREE? Guests can RSVP here. nicspics EVENT image Then, just a few days later on Sunday, August 17, my girl Nic is hosting a shopping party featuring items from her very own shop! There will be sips and snacks as shoppers from sizes 2 through 24 will be to find thrifted apparel and accessories at 50-70% OFF!!! It's all going down at the Residence Inn Marriott in Elliott City from 9am to 4pm. The event is FREE! Simply register here.

blacchyna_large Once you get your clothing and accessory fix, head over to Stonefish Lounge (1708 L Street NW, Washington, DC) for a beauty pop-up shop and networking event where professional makeup artists will teach you how to beat that face as you enjoy cocktails and shop the vendor tables. You can purchase individual tickets or even get a VIP table - click here for more details.

W sample sale On August 20, the Wear It Washington Sample Sale will be happening at the Long View Gallery (1234 9th Street NW, Washington, DC) featuring apparel and accessories from high end retailers, discounted between 25-75%! I've never been to this sample sale, but I've heard that it is epic! While it likely won't include many plus-size offerings (if any!), there should at least be some accessories worth checking out! Purchase tickets here!

ubiquitous On August 23-24, the Ubiquitous Hair & Health Show is coming to the Omni Shoreham Hotel to provide two days of education and entertainment around hair care. This is a unique event in that it caters to ladies who flaunt both relaxed and natural hair styles. Also, for hair stylists on the rise, the event will also feature a two-hour extension styling class taught by celebrity stylist extraordinaire, Kim Kimble. (Participation in this class requires a separate fee. More information is available here.) But if, like me, you're the more casual lover of all things hair, it is well worth the $12 ticket to check more than 85 beauty brands and to catch glimpses of some of your favorite stars, like Chrisette Michele, Maurette Brown Clarke, and Chante Moore. Tickets can be purchased here. EOC Logo Finally, my girl Sandy Jean-Phillippe is bringing the Evolution of Curves charity fashion show back to DC on Sunday, August 31 at The Huxley (1730 M Street NW, Washington, DC) from 6-10pm. (The tour is also scheduled to hit Miami and Atlanta very soon.) As you know, Evolution of Curves holds a very special place in my heart as it was the very FIRST event I covered to as a plus-size fashion blogger. This year the tour celebrates its FIFTH year of celebrating women's curves and rebuilding homes in Haiti. Because this is, indeed, a charity event, tickets cost $30 for general admission or $40 for VIP seating. However, there is an early bird special running through this Saturday! Be sure to get your tickets here!

Will we be seeing you at any of these events? Know of another fashion/style event in the DC area that's coming up? Don't be greedy - share a bit in the comments section! ;)

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Monday Morning Memo – A Little Wisdom from Kimora Lee

NEW monday-morning-memo "Don't accept less than what it is that you know that you want. Don't allow someone to be a jerk. Don't allow someone to disrespect you. Listen to the bigger voice in your head telling you that you deserve the best, whatever that is whatever that is you decide you like for yourself. It may differ from what I like or what is ideal for me. But the bottom line is to never accept less than what you know you deserve." – Kimora Lee Simmons

Curvy CEO Asks: What Are Your Biggest Fashion Dilemmas?

curvyceoasks Every woman, no matter her shape or size, can complain of some sort of fashion dilemma. That unsolvable problem that vexes her no matter what.

For me, it's the never-ending quest to find shoes that are both comfortable AND cute. (Having an extra wide and extra large foot does not help!)
Also, being the lovely triangle shape that I am, I sometimes find that I cannot wear certain "sets" because I wear one size on top and another size on the bottom. *sigh*

What about you? What are YOUR biggest fashion dilemmas? Please share in the comments section!

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Monday Morning Memo – Self-Growth is Tender & Holy

NEW monday-morning-memo“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” - Stephen Covey

August. Beautiful, sweet, sweet August. For folks inside the Beltway, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. For politicos and the people that love them, August is the one time of year that you KNOW you are able to truly take a break. (I guess the exception would be for candidates and campaign workers in an election year. *shrug*) Congress shuts down for a month. Even the President goes on vacation. DC traffic is almost non-existent and no one bats an eye when you actually take your vacation days.

As I move into this August, I am excited to take some time to really press pause and relax. Then, I can take the time to continue nurturing my path of self-growth. Hope that you are able to do the same.

Happy August, everyone!

Real-Life Curvy CEO: Sasha Ballard, Miss Virginia Plus USA

In August 2014, Seattle will serve as the host city for the inaugural Miss Plus USA pageant. Among the field of contestants is my friend, Sasha Ballard, who will be representing the Commonwealth of Virginia. When I learned that she would be participating in the contest I thought she would be an ideal candidate for the ever-popular “Real-Life Curvy CEO” feature. So, let’s learn more about my girl, Sasha!

Tell my readers a little about yourself. Although I was born in Anchorage, Alaska and raised mostly in Washington D.C. and Maryland, today I reside in Virginia. I earned a Master’s Degree in Federal Program Management from Trinity Washington University and a B.A. in Mass Communications from Virginia State University. I’m a proud member of the illustrious Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and work as a Contract Specialist under the elite Fellows Management Program with the Federal Government. Recently I have started to work as a professional full-figured model. I maintain a deep passion for mentoring and changing lives. As such, I am currently working to establish an organization that will strive to help today’s youth build confidence, self-sufficiency, cultural awareness, and leadership skills.

Sasha-Miss Virginia Plus USA

What inspired you to enter the Miss Plus USA pageant? At first I was not going to enter the competition. I had never done anything like it before and really was not sure what to expect and if I could successfully accomplish what was required. I had heard about it through a friend of mine, but wrote off all interest in participating and gotten off of social media for months. I had occasionally thought about looking in to it again because it was on my heart. The very first day I logged back onto Facebook, it was the first thing I saw. I prayed about it and took it as a sign to proceed.

What are the official issue(s) you hope to represent during your reign as Miss Virginia Plus USA? My platform is Post-Partum Depression Awareness (PPD). I am teaming up with Postpartum Support International; one of the largest women’s organizations dedicated to helping women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. After I had my daughter in 2012, I had severe PPD. I felt there was a need for more events, programs, and initiatives for women dealing with PPD. There was especially a need for minority women to start talking about it.

I am working on finalizing a PPD initiative dedicated to urban mothers and children. My vision is to start dispelling one of the many taboos about mental health in our communities. I want to provide more resources in engaging women with their children and how to overcome a variety of circumstances that may be present before, during, and after pregnancy. I would like to create more opportunities for urban women to receive help without judgment and provide a key element of alternative educational methods and pregnancy prevention for young women.

image credit: missplususa.com

image credit: missplususa.com

What has been the most surprising thing about preparing for the national competition so far? The most challenging? The most rewarding? The most surprising thing about preparing for a national competition is all the work involved. I have a new respect for people who do this. The most challenging is the balance act and making up in your mind what you really want out of it. Not taking anything personal was another big one. One of the most rewarding has been seeing how many people support you openly and even secretly. Due to my diligence and hard work, I was able to get a variety of sponsors in different things, so being able to meet different people and network and talk about your platform and who you are as a person is by far the most rewarding because you never know who you will meet and leave an impression on.

Win or lose, what do you hope to take home from your experience at the national competition? I hope to take home a valuable network of women who can pour and add greatness in to my life and allow me do the same for them. This is a huge investment monetarily, but even bigger emotionally. What I stand to gain is far greater than what I have spent.

How can my readers support you in your endeavor to take home the national title? Oh wow, there are so many things your readers can do to support me!

Email me encouragement and stories they would like to share at therealsashanicole@gmail.com - especially if they can relate to PPD or have anything they would like to share. It is great to have support in anything you do in life. They can also send me a Facebook friend request at “Sasha Nicole”. As I am coming to a close on tying the loose ends for the programs and initiatives I am doing to impact the DC, MD, VA area, they can follow the impact God has anointed me to make in the area.

The Miss Plus USA contest features another familiar face - former Real-Life Curvy CEO interviewee, poetess Shelly Says So aka Michel Washington who will be representing Maryland! Good luck to all of the 2014 contestants - we know that the DC metropolitan area will be WELL represented!

Anything else you'd like to share? To keep going! There will be many people who may try to discourage your ideas and dreams, but keep going. The biggest thing that has kept me going is my understanding of the destiny laid out for me. I believe in achieving greatness. I continually try to do everything I can to stay motivated and focused on what God has placed in my heart. The more you can eliminate distractions not worthy of your time, the more destinies you will discover and achieve.

Please stay tuned and follow me down this path to help our communities and young women. I am going to do my best to not let you guys down!


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Monday Morning Memo – Offer Up Your Gratitude

NEW monday-morning-memo"Let's choose today to quench our thirst for the 'good life' we thinks others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts." – Sarah Ban Breathnach, author