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model magazine CONTENTS INSIGHT inspiration letter from the editor reader's react

BEAUTY artemis: gearing up for summer tara: summer essentials beauty favorites with sarah get the look

FASHION executive fashion director monique's accessories report reah's style f ile... what I love right now! always for me q&a haute on the web with sorella swim marie's plus size swimsuit guide

EDITORIAL bring on the heat modeling and motherhood natural habitat plus sized super model denise bidot always for me ... bring on the heat behind the scenes

ENTERTAINMENT making a spash with becca etc. alegra keene ... woman on the rise cocoa brown, america's homegirl rising celebrity report: mary, mary's 'goo goo' let's talk shop strike a pose in the bag: sabrina's favorites spotlight model jessica

TRIBUTE our friend mia amber

• ONLINE fb/@plusmodelmag twitter/@plusmodelmag





HOST. PL US MODEL RADIO Chenese L ewis ENT ERTAINMENT & CEL EBRITY CONTRIBUTOR Tia Rudd MODEL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR Tracie St ern COPY EDITOR Shannon Hiett FEATURES & CONTRIBUTORS Tiffany Bank, Suzette Banzo, Angela Doyle, Yve Edmond Debor ah Friedman, Shannon Hiett, J ennifer Jonassen, Larissa L aurel, M ichelle Rene, Coll een Stovall, Danielle Young MARKETING ASSISTANT Chrissy Alvey INTERN J amila Harbin PUBLISHER 3G Publishing, Inc.



e1ne ones Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to our Swim Issue sponsored by Always For Me Summer is just around the corner and PLUS Model Magazine is ready to show you what you will be wearing poolside and on the beach. This month we welcome back plus size model Denise Bidot who was last seen on our cover in the Denim August 2010 issue. The model and woman she has become in two years is remarkable; we are excited for you to see her first swimwear editorial for PLUS Model Magazine, and read about her life and return to television in NUVO TV's Curvy Girls . We are so happy to celebrate Mother's Day with a special pictorial photographed by Victoria Janashvili featuring model Sage Sa lzer Miller and her precious little girl. Continuing our celebration of women who are doing it all, we are also bringing you interviews w ith Cocoa Brown, currently starring in Tyler Perry's "For Better or Worse"

and Goo Goo Atkins, sister to Gospel group Ma r y Ma r y, wa r drobe stylist currently starring in the WE TV Reality Show "Mary Mary". Joining the PLUS Model Magazine family is Tia D. Rudd, who w ill be our Entertainment and Celebrity contributor. Tia has a lot of spunk and is one of the most plus positive women I know. Lastly, PLUS Model Magazine pays special tribute to Mia Amber Davis Yard who passed away one year ago on May 10th. Mia was kind, gentle, spiritual and honest. She loved the plus size industry and the women she met. Mia was a special fr iend and role model to many who knew her. Many continue to honor her name by telling her story and continuing her vision for this industry. Our hearts and prayers go out to her fam ily, and husband, Michael Yard . Enjoy! Madeline Jones

We love to hear from you! 'Tell us what you think of the 1nagazine! We would love to know what you 'i\'Ould like to see. Your feedback on all things plus size from fashion, to modeling, to television, or just because, share your voice! Thank you for being a positive place to go in the plus size community. - M. Resendiz I love April's issue!! I rea lly love the Always Beautifu l with al l the veterans that I grew up wanting to look like! Luv it! - N. Smith

I love this Magazine I've been reading it constantly. Thank you for creating this! - V Tejada Jeanna Sabatino is a STAR! That (SWAK DesignsJ editorial was so gorgeous it took my breath away. She has an ethereal beauty that really was perfect for the concept, designs, and styling ! Just gorgeous! - M. Krehl I am very inspired thank you ... i style plus size women almost everyday n love it and would love to style one day fo r photo shoots or magazine :] ..thank u so much for representing us plus size girls. - L. Portugal i love that "plus size" models have really been taking over the industry. I love to look at a picture of someone my size and see confidence exuded through the page. - J . Brooks


To Hear From You!

Tell us what is on your mind, your feedback and input is important to the team at PLUS Model Magazine. Contact us:

PLUS Model Magazine Welcomes Curvy Entertainment Contributor Tia RL

The excitement behind the scenes isn't enough to keep Ms. Tia Darlene Rudd. TV pre lives of entertainments most beloved celebrities, athletes, and tastemakers.

Shows like Girlfriends awarded her the opportunity to work with the beautiful TraceE career to take on a life of its own. The list of reality shows and sitcoms, that Ms. Rude nod of approval and is highlighted with fan favorites like the Or. Phil Show, Biggest Lc

Currently residing in NYC working everyda~ journalist, whi le preparing to release her journey continues and she is overly exc dedicated to marrying her on camer roducer. she is excited to bring PLUS MODEL MAGAZINI

otogra p her: Adria n Ossi r""'""'""" Director/Stylsit: Ano Okera & Ac Hair: Nate Bova & Make-Up: Rod nE

Jdd! ducer/ entertainment journalist off the red carpet or out of the private

Ellis Ross while working with Kirstie Alley and Ricki Lake allowed her I has t he liberty of adding to her repertoire, is quite long but receives a Jser , Surreal Life, and Jerry Springer. !

'/as a t elevision pr odu cer and enter tai nment first book 400 Dollars and B Suitcases, Tia' s : ited about keeping Ame r ica in the know. Now 'a talent and expe rience as a her passion for entertai nment to =I


ngton :)Style ~y Jon

''I'm elated to be working with such an inspiring young lady who shares the same passion that we do at PLUS Model Magazine. Tia mixes a no-holds-barred attitude wit h professional flavor that is all her own." Madeline Jones, PMM Editor-in-Chief.

• • •

Plus Maciel Sarah Jusi Cannot Leave Home Without ... YSL Touche Eclat I don't wear a lot of makeup when I'm not on set, but this is a must have, especially for castings. It perks up the under-eye area and makes you look great in photos. It's a staple in every makeup artists' bag and mine t oo. a l ba

Alba Cocoa Butter I've been using cocoa butter since I was 11 and t his is t he best one I've fou nd. It smells great, goes on easy and prevents stretch marks.


Kiss My Face Sports Spray Sunscreen SPF 50 I wear sunscreen every day, even in the wi nter, and I just discovered this amazing spray on sunscreen. It smells like coco nut and is super easy to put on and reapp ly throughout the day.



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Suki Lip Repair Butter Ever since working with Suki when I first started modelling, I have been obsessed with everything in her line. But t his in particular is a must-have, and not as pricey as some of her other items. It will repair even t he most dry and damaged lips in the dead of winter in one day!

Physicians Healthy Wear SPF 50 Powder Foundation This is a great bronzer AND sunscreen in the summertime. I bring it to the beach and put it on after I dry off!

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Norman Executive Fashion Director

Warmer weather- here we come! I am so excited fo r the summer season and the adventures that the next few months bring for all of us- vacations, staycations, summer soiree's, sun, surf. sand, spending time cooling off, and of course, doing it all in the best t rends t he season has to offer. Vibrant colors and prints, cropped colored denim, high-low hem skirts, dresses galore, sanda ls, sunn ies, statement jewelry, and of course- swimwear! What better way to gear up for the season than to choose the perfect swimsuit, and in this month's swimsuit issue, the PMM fashio n team has brought you everything you need to help make the process of choosing the perfect swimsuit simple and effortless! Fashion & Style Ed itor, Marie Denee created t he perfect "Swimsuit Guide"a go-to list t hat puts all of th is season's plus size swimwear at your f ingertips! Our Shopping Editor, Monique Frausto brings you everything you need to

complete your head-to-toe swimwear look with "Summer Travel Essentials", and as always, in "Reah's Style F ile" I have chosen my favo rite plus size fash ion and accessories t hat I am obsessing over- r ight now, and it is all just a click away fro m being a part of your current wardrobel On a beauty note, West Coast Beauty Ed itor, Artemis, shares her t ips & tricks to get your skin, hair and nails prepped for warm weather w ith "ConfessionsGearing Up for Summer". Last but not least, East Coast Beauty Editor, Tara Taylor, shares her collection of "Summer Essentials"- must have beauty products to keep you looki ng your best through the summer season! I hope this issue of PMM inspires you t o confidently take a f un, carefree, colorful approach to fas hion and beauty, and to "think outside t he fa shion box" when choosing your summer wardrobe! XOXO, Reah

May '12 Issue/PLUS Model Magazine

by Madeline Jones Photog rapher: Lucas Pictures

ensures women look the ir best and feel confident. An hourglass figure will look good in most swimsuit styles but swimsuits with shirred midsections will play up your smaller waist and accentuate your fuller bust and hips. Look for styles like the Always For Me Paradise and Miraclesuit Escape for a sexy waist whittling one piece look. Women w ith pear shaped bodies look best in A-line style swimwear that balance their t op and bottom. Choose a swim dress with an empire waist or mini skirt. Swimsuit separates with a skirt or jogger bottoms are also a good choice. Eye catching prints on top will draw the eye upward. For triang le shaped bodies that are fu ll busted coverage and support are key. Bathing suits with molded bra cups and torso encircling elastic or underwire provide the best bust support. T hicker straps are more supportive www.

and comfortable than halter styles for full busted women . Our Always For Me Cup sized bat hing suits provide great fitting swimwear for larger busts. So you're not one size all over? Don't worry, most women aren't. Always For Me has a beautiful selection of swimsuits in separate pieces in the ir Always For Me Sport and Separates co llection, as well as the best plus size swim separates from designers like Christina, Coco Reef and Beach House. No matter a woman's shape or size, everyone can benefit from built-in control panels and ruching that nip in the waist, define, and flatten the figure. For maximum, body s limming impact the Always For Me lnControl, M iraclesu it and Carol Wior swimwear are the answer. With shape wear like f abrics and linings these plus size bathing suits will have you strutting the beach in style.

May '12 Issue/PLUS Model Magazine

Your cover ups are always beautiful, comfortable and come in an array of styles and colors. Can you walk us through the options for us this season? Skip the boring over sized t -shirt. No swimwear wardrobe is complete without a great cover up. A must have for every swimsuit wardrobe is a versatile sarong or skirt. Shore excursions call for sophisticated, comfy and curve loving tunics and dresses. This season's colors are brilliant from tank dresses like the Always For Me Scarf Hem dress to the watercolor chiffon Always For Me Kimono. You will be ready to sail the seas or just lounge by the pool. Our plus size dresses are fool proof fashion styled with versatility in mind, you can even dress them up for a night on the town. They make you feel like a movie star. Swimsuits are very personal and can be difficult to shop for online, can you

give us some tips about how to best shop online for swimwear? Take the time to take your measurements and look at the size chart for the swimsuit you like. Take the time to read the product descriptions, fit guides and customer reviews. If you still have questions, call or email one of our knowledgeable customer service representatives. We believe every woman can look beautiful in a swimsuit. This season we've added new plus size designer swimwear lines. Since 1989, Patricia Byrnes has been designing women's swimwear to complement individual body types. Her new Fit 4 U plus size collection fuses the hottest fashion trends with her famous fit solutions. Every woman wants to look sexy in a swimsuit and MonifC has answered the call with eye popping contemporary swimwear styles that are fun, and sexy. These lines of swimwear are now available.


by Tulin Reid Sorella Swim is taking the plunge and offering their gorgeous line of swimsuits online as of May 1st, 2012 at Jessica Petersen of Sorella Swim sat dowm w ith me for an interview and the exclusive announcement of Shop Sorel la Swi m.

Tell me about Sorella Swim Sorel Ia Swim is a luxury line of swimwear for the stylish, sophisticated, curvy woman. We take pride in the quality and craftsmanship we are able to provide. Our swimwear is designed to last and be your favo r ite swimsuit; season after season. We want each of our customers feel ing sexy, chic and comfortable in their Sorella swimwear!

signifies style, quality and luxury. A brand the curvy woman can be proud to call her own! We are also 100% designed and . manufact ured 1n Los Angeles, Ca lifornia.

Congratulations on the launch of your new e-commerce site! What was your motivation to move in this direction? Thank you! We are quite excited about being able to launch a store at this early stage in the brand's development. Initially we did not have plans to open an e-commerce site this fast. We had planned to start online development by our 4th or 5th season, but due to some uncertainty from r eta ilers on how to market the brand and a fear from reta ilers on carrying a f ull-f igure swimwear label we were forced to shift our t imeline.

Yes, our customers are definitely looking for fashion! They are fash ion-sawy women who crave quality and all the special details. A majority of our customers are t ired of safe and the same old offerings that are duplicated by so many swimwear brands. Our customer s are looking for fashion colors, unique styling details and a range of different coverage options. I f ind that our two best sellers are the Signature Medallion Tankini with Skirted Bottom, which offers the most coverage in our collection, followed by the Surplice Bikini Top and Plain Bottom, offering the least amount of coverage in the collection. This shows me that there are a variety of curvy customers out there and they are not all looking for the same thing. We have to offer variety! And by selling direct we can do so much more. Wait until you see the 2013 Collection!


With the majority of the population being a size 12 and higher, it has been frustrating to hear retailer's uncertainty and hesitation in catering to this customer. We have made a huge effort to partner with each of our retailers in developing an assortment and mar keting plan to capture the curvy customer, but most have been unwilling to listen or work with us. An online store of our own was the only way we felt we could really cater to the curvy customer the way she deserves to be catered to.

Do you find that your customers are looking for more options than maybe what buyer's purchase, which tend to be more safe?

How do you make ordering swimsuits online an easy and convenient option? Sorella Swim does accept exchanges and returns and our policy is clearly stated on the site. A size chart is also available for quick reference. However, at this point, since this is the initial launch of the site, there are a few pages missing from the store that are currently still in development. These pages include personal consultation assistance and a measuring gu ide. Even though these pages are not yet visible on the site, we still offer the service.

our customer service line (888.976.SWIM) or email us at to request a consultation appointment and a time will be arranged to walk through any questions the customer may have regarding how to measure their body, the fit of a particular swimsuit or what kind of swimsuit is best suited for the ir body type. One of the greatest things about being a sma ll company is that I am able to interact w ith the customers directly and provide these consultations first hand. As the designer and owner, it is my goal to offer each individual "white glove service". We want you to love your Sorel Ia Swim !

We know how difficu lt it can be shopping for swimwear and f it is one of the most critical features, so to help put your mind at ease we do offer fit consultation and guidance via email or phone. A customer just needs to call customer login 1.888.976.swim


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Colleen: What's your definition of beauty? Denise: Beauty to me is different based on each person or object. Everyone has their own beauty to them. Im perfections ar e beautiful to me. Colleen: Has modeling changed your perspective on life? Denise: I've always enjoyed life, but modeli ng has taken me to different countries, which has given me the ability to explore cultures and meet people from all parts of the world. It's amazing what seeing life elsewhere w ill teach you about life. I appreciate the little things more now. No matter what successes life brings my way, I always try and stay humbled by my blessings. I have fun in any situation and truly believe in laughing as much as possible. lm at a point where I am at peace and living each day as it comes. Colleen: You are proof that dreams come true, moving from behind the scenes in 2006 to in front of the camera. What changes have you seen in the plus modeling industry? Has it changed for the better? Denise: Dreams really do come true. Going from makeup to modeling was not at all expected when I did makeup for a plus model in 2006. Funny how life unveils its plans for you when you least expect it. Its crazy how much the plus industry has changed in the last six years. I remember in t hose days there were very few key players within the plus models and it's great to see so many new fa ces nowadays. It makes me proud to see so much diversity on all the agency boards. I've heard stories from gir ls who used to be unhealthy and straight-sized and now

they are hea lthy, fit the criteria for plus size modeli ng and are so much happier in their lives, that's a great thing for women everywhere. People are learning that you don't have to be stick thin to be a model and that there is beauty in all shapes and sizes. One thing is for sure, the girls out there modeling and representing for the curvy community are not only gorgeous, they stand for something fantastic. Colleen: If you could change one th ing about the industry, what would it be and why? Denise: I think that our industry is growing by leaps and bounds and there is absolutely nothing wrong with

Making of a Plus Size Super Model I Denise Bidot

it at this present moment. There is age and size diversity and slowly, but surely mainstream media will come along also. I think the future of plus size fash ion and modeli ng looks very br ig ht.

Colleen: You are in high demand. How do you balance being a mother w ith being a full-time model? Denise: It 's very tricky to juggle both. I am now at a place where I am f lying her out when I'm in a city over a few days. I miss her like crazy when lm away too long, so I try as much as possible to limit my days away from home. We are in the process of moving to New York City, and hopefully once local, there will be less going




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back and forth. But I do have to say, that if you have your priorities in order it is possible. Once my daughter was born, it only motivated me more to set out and achieve something great, for her. I want her to be proud of her mommy.

Colleen: I loved the pilot episode of Curvy Girls on NuVo. We aren't used to seeing your personal life exposed. Why did you choose to take the plunge into reality TV? Were you scared of how the public would receive you? Denise: Taking the plunge into reality TV was a huge step for me. Scary as it is, I've always wanted to pursue TV and film and I'm comfortable w ith cameras all around. It 's what my dream was when I moved to Los Angeles. Having been modeling all these years, and I haven't been able to focus as much on that goal. Thankfully it seems that people are interested in my personal life these days and maybe if all goes well, through this, there will be more wor k in television. I also want people to see how much hard work goes into modeling. I think people see modeling in the glitz and glamour sort of way but it 's t ime they see the amount of hard work that is put in by an entire crew to get the shot.

Making of a Plus Size Super Model I Denise Bidot Also I believe that through the show we will push plus pos itivity and awareness. I'm not a catty person and in this cut throat industry there has to be more togetherness. I think the girls that will be on the show with me are great role models and I can't wa it to continue shooting season one with these beautifu l ladies. There is always a fear of how people will perceive you, but people have to understand that ed it ing isn't always kind and sometimes things are pieced together for entertainment. Colleen: What happened to Denise B's Diary? I loved reading your blog. Any chance that youll be getting back to blogging soon? Denise: Denise B's diary was very short lived. I was a bit ambitious in thinking that I could hold together full time modeling, mommy hood, social networking, YouTube, a blog and still have time for me.

I do w ish to continue my YouTube channel and I just got a new camera so looking into a couple of details currently to make that happen. I admire bloggers; it's a full time job to keep that going. Colleen: Are you dating currently? If so how do you fit in time to get to know someone special? Denise: Dating? What's dating and who has t ime for that? (Laughs)

I'm a very old school type of girl and I still think a girl shou ld be courted. I think when the time is right, Mr. Right will show up. For now, I just love life with my mini me. Colleen: Speaking of dating, what's the perfect date for you? What does it take to sweep you off your feet? Denise: Hmm ... Good question. I love

surprises and I love romance. To sweep me off my feet, I would need a man who has manners, is smart funny and adventurous. All else, is up to suggestions. (L aughs) Colleen: You 've made some great accomplishments. What's next for Ms. Denise Bidot? Denise: I'm so thankfu l to have been working so much and have a career that lets me grow and challenge myself. I just signed to Muse NYC and excited about the future of my modeling career, hopefully more trips overseas. Also next, I am working on making my way into acting to prove the plus sized girl can be more than just the friend and more of the leading lady. I am looking at giving back and getting involved w ith a few charities and who knows, maybe start a brand of my own. Curvy Girls w ill air on Nuvo this fal l, so there might be some fun things com ing very soon. Stay tuned!

After f inding succ ess des igning for straight size women, Rebecca Virtue is certainly making a splash w ith plus size swimwear designs for her new line. BECCA ETC With Tara Lynn modeling the beautiful swimsuits, BECCA ETC's lookbook sizzles with sexy designs that will leave your curves sa livating for more! Be prepared to gain plenty of admirers whi le donning Rebecca's delicious designs. Make sure to read Rebecca's interview with PL US Model Magazine below for the scoop on the rise of this sexy plus size li ne! SH: Rebecca, I have to say that the designs of your swimsuits in the 2012 lookbook for BECCA ETC are stunning!

I understand that this line is not your f irst fo r ay into fash ion. Please share with us your background in fash ion and a little bit about your fash ion line befor e BECCA ETC. Rebecca: After graduating from Otis College of Art and Design, I was immediately drawn to designing swimwear. Could it be that I was raised in Southern California? Prior to designing BECCA [my contemporary collection) twelve years ago, I designed for Massimo and Op. I've received such positive feedback from the BECCA by Rebecca Virtue line that I knew this brand needed to be offered in larger sizes; it seemed on ly natural to extend my styling into plus w ith BECCA ETC. SH: Why did you decide to ent er the plus size fashion front?

Making a Sexy Splash I BECCA ETC.

Rebecca: I was drawn to plus sized fashion because I saw a void in the market that desperate ly needed to be fi lled. I wanted to pr ovide a contempor ary look for the plus size gal giving her more stylish choices in swimwear and cover-ups.

Rebecca: Many of my cover-ups can and are intended to be worn as sportswear. I want the BECCA ETC customer to be able to go from the resort to the spa and on for some shopping and fee l that she's fashionably dressed.

SH: Which challenges have you faced as a straight size woman starting a plus size li ne?

SH: How do you feel about the plus size movement in the United States? Do you feel as if designers are pushing the boundaries as far as plus sizes go, or are they comfortably covering our curves fo llowing trends set by designers from years ago?

Rebecca: Let me say that designing for a larger s ize is not so different than designing for a straight size woman. I use most of the same fabrics in BECCA ETC as I do in the BECCA swimwear line, so that part of the equation was natural. I must admit however, t hat fitting th is con sumer has its challenges; there are so many more variables and body types to consider in this market. SH: You went straight to the top by using Tar a Lynn for your lookbook and she looks absolutely rad iant in your swimwear. What was it like working with her? Rebecca: Tara is among the most professional models I have worked with. She is always smiling [not just in f ront of the camera!] and was a lot of fun . I love Tara!! SH: I see BECCA ETC is only available in limited stores throughout a few locations in the U.S. Where shou ld custom ers go to shop for your amazing pieces? Rebecca: Currently the suits are in select Everything But Water stores and will be shipping Bloomingdale's, Dillard's, Macy's and very soon. SH: I know that swimwear is your specialty for BECCA ETC however, your cover -ups are quite lovely as well. Would you consider doing a dress line for plus sizes in the future?

Rebecca: I am so happy to see so much attention being given to this market. I feel like the modern day plus consumer has been ignored for so long and her choices were slim. As you know, there are very limited choices in swimwear for plus. Unfortunately, it seems that most options are dark, drab colors with some very mature prints. What BECCA ETC has brought to the table [or in our case, the swimwear department] is refresh ing and up-to-date. SH: What has been the response to BECCA ETC? I can imag ine that plus size women are going gaga for your f lattering designs! Rebecca: I have received such enormous support; it's really exciting! To see the look on the faces of these women wearing BECCA ETC is priceless! SH: The detail that goes into your swimwear is qu ite intricate: especially the back of some of the swimsuits. How long does it take to create one piece? Rebecca: F r om a hand-made prototype in my sample room to f inished production can take up to five months! SH: Are your pieces as functional as they are fash ionable? By that I mean will

Making a Sexy Splash I BECCA ETC.

they hold the girls up against the rocking waves of the ocean?!

Rebecca: I'm so glad you mentioned that. Besides being stylish, our pieces are also designed with support in mind. I have added power mesh for tummy con trol and double reinforcements when needed up top- so the girls stay in place! SH: PLUS Model Magazine wishes you the best of luck for your BECCA ETC. line; however, judging by the pieces you've created thus far, you don't need any luck because your talent will carry you far. What's next for you, Rebecca? Rebecca: With this new line just getting off the ground, I need to keep focused on getting the word out. I am currently in the fina l stages of designing our 2013 collection and then its off to market! I look forward to the feedback I get in the coming year so I can make all the fuller figured women out there feel even more sexy and beautiful. Website:

Follow BECCA ETC for the latest styles, fashion, and availablity. Coming to a store near you! Becca EtcSwimwear


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The plus industry is international and growing exponentially, this is certain, yet it is still a very small world! I have had the pleasure and opportunity to cross paths with Allegra Keene many times over the years and in many different capacities. I first met Allegra nearly a decade ago on a modeling forum when she was an aspiring model, and we had actually done some work for the same client (coincidentally that client was Plus by Design, her current company!).

Shortly after, I shot with Allegra when she was a photography student at Cal State-Northridge. Most recently I caught up with Allegra at the 2011 Love Your Body Day event when she was representing Vikki Vi, in their vendors booth. Imagine my surprise when right before the fashion show they announced me as the winner of the $100 Vikki Vi gift certificate! After stopping in to Vikki Vis charming Los Angeles boutique to redeem my winnings , I had the chance to catch up with this industry mover and shaker and was enthralled by her story of f inding her place in the fashion industry. Allegra grew up in sunny Southern California, and when it was t ime for college, she enrolled in the film program at Cal State-Northridge. Her search for employment led her to the trendy plus size retailer Torrid, and while working there she was often asked if she was a model. Her past as a pag-

eant baby (most photogenic!) and being told repeatedly, "You have such a pretty face!" led her to Goog le plus size mod eling. She visited sites like venusd ivas. com, and entered model searches, even did some shoots for local designers and retailers. After realizing she wasn't making any money at modeling, she decided to face her own fears and visit a repu table L os Angeles agency. After hearing that she was too short, and she needed to either gain or lose weight to potentially do fit modeling, she came to the conclusion she was not a model. Shortly after, Allegra realized f ilm was more appealing. She had fa llen in love with the darkroom, in part due to her incredible product photography instructor and she changed her major to photography. After being laid off from her job as a bank runner, she decided to post her resume on Craigslist showcasing her skil ls. Danielle Malconian. of Plus by Design, responded to her ad, hop-

ing to have her shoot product and upload to the website, but instead used her as a model. Allegra was determined to be hired into the position she interviewed for. Danielle hired Allegra on a trial basis. Eventually she was writing and tracking orders and they were selling well. She kept on learning as she went. and soon she was doing more and more, buying, studying ra t ios, booking and shooting models, and many other duties . She was grateful to have a boss like Danielle, who had faith in her abilities and continued to give her more respons ibi lities. and was generous with her knowledge. Danielle's passion rubbed off on her. Allegra realizes it most likely was always there, but Oanielle was the catalyst, and Allegra is thankful to have her as a boss and a mentor. When talking about modeli ng from the perspective of a client who books talent (Lydia Fixe! is currently the core model for Vikki Vi, and the face of their brand), as well as having been an aspiring model herself, Allegra definitely has advice for newer or aspiring models. Models should first and foremost realize that it is about the product and not about them, and never to com-

plain about the clothing or the makeup. There are many opportunists out ther'e who are more than willing to take people's dollars to sell a song and a dance to girls with a dream, or tell them they can launch their careers. While she is not saying to give up on your dreams, you also need to be real w ith yourself. Study successf ul models, and do your research. Modeling is much more than changing your Facebook name to something w ith "Piusmodel" in it. It does not make you any less beautiful if you are not a model, and there are many other fac ets of the fashion industry to become involved in (and Al legra has done just about all of them!). One of the most important things Allegra does is tries

Allegra Keene I What Can't She Do?

on EVERYTHING that comes in the door. When a recent shipment came ' -路 ..... J in, Allegra immediately realized that ' ""7 the material was different than before. When explaining to the manufacturer that it was inferior and did not drape as it shou ld , she simply had to put it on to show that it was not something she could sell to her costumers. Allegra is a champion to her clientele, whom Danielle oft en refers to as the forgotbackground has helped her now to not ten woman, one who is professional only buy for the company, but to also and conservative, and loves the look try her hand at design. Recently, she of suiting, w ithout the feel of suiting. saw the need to provide a maxi dress Many of her customers are doctors, that had heavier and w ider straps, and lawyers, and other professionals and more room in the bust, and thus a new these women need clothing too, and it style was born. Patis Allegra's feeling 11 tern makers bring woman has her sketches and that EVERY woman has the right to dreams to life. With the right to beautiful beautiful pieces of the current lines clothing. This is ultipieces of clothing." of tried and true mately what drives Vikki Vi separates her and it is her and dresses, Allegpleasure to find women wardrobes ra chooses colors and patterns. She that work for them. occasionally may modify or reassign Several years ago, Oanielle and Plus pieces. Allegra tracks what works for by Design acquired Vikki Vi, a brand her customers and buys to meet that w ith a long history of provid ing quality need. While Vikki Vi is known for having pieces of clothing to plus size women relatively conservative pieces that mix with a devoted following. Allegra's art and match and all work well together,





Allegra Keene I What Can't She Do?

recent seasons have shown exceptionally on trend contemporary pieces, which show Allegra's subtle influences and Oanielle's attention to current style trends in adding new silhouettes. As for advice to plus size consumers, she also has some words of w isdom. Know your measurements! As most of us know. plus size women do a great deal of shopping online. Knowing your measurements (and how to properly find them!) is imperative to finding a good fit. As we also well know, all size 18's are not the same , and if you do not know your measurements, you are resigning yourself to lots of returns. There are some women who are still more comfortable shopping online than actually going inside the fat girl store! Allegra reca lled a time when she saw a fashionab le plus size woman look in the w indow as she passed her store nearly every day. Finally one morning she went outside and invited her to come in and take a look, but the woman told her she was not plus sized. Allegra said ok. but also let her know they had an online site as well just in case she wanted to check it out. That day she saw an order from that neighborhood come through and she knew she had a new customer. Everyone has their own comfort level, but we all deserve great options!

One of Allegra's life priorities is philanthropy, and she told me a very touching story t hat kicked off some of the work she has done with Vikki Vi t o help provide plus size clothing to women in need. Allegra was at a laundromat and she watched a woman washing clothing with a blanket tied around her waist. Her only pair of jeans was in the washing machine. Immediately wanting to help, Allegra gave the woman a pa ir of yoga pants, but realized she could do more. Homeless shelters report that plus sizes are the most needed clothing sizes, and the least donated. The boutique has hosted events with proceeds benefitting womens' charities, as well as holding plus size clothing drives. Giving back is somet hing very close to her heart. So, Allegra can do, and does do it all; she is a photographer, a stylist, a buyer, a designer, a sales manager, a talent booker. She often travels for events like Magic in Las Vegas or Full Figured Fashion Week, but still sometimes because she is a young woman in her 20's, she feels she has to prove herself. It is obvious. however, to anyone that this dynamic personality is a force in the plus fashion world and is certainly making her mark. No, you do not have to be a model to make it in plus fash ion, but even today, Allegra Keene sometimes steps out from behind the scenes to do just that. proving maybe, just maybe, you can have it all!

b7' ...Ia D. Budd

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-ria: Wow, Cocoa it's been a year since I have seen you and everything has chan ged, you are a comedian, actress, and now soon to be mother; are you ready for that?

Cocoa: (laughs) You try getting r eady for a baby 2000 miles away from home (laughs). I just arrived back into Atlanta for taping, I've been so busy touring hospita ls looking for an obstetrician, and preparing because the baby w ill be delivered here in Atlanta, so we are just trying to get everything in order before that happens. An d on top of everything I'm still tour 1ng. 0

-ria: So you are touring and doing a sitcom: did n't you just do a pilot too?

Cocoa: Yeah, I just taped a pilot with Cedric the Enterta iner and it got picked up.

-ria: Girl you're so blessed. So last we met for the first time at Firefly in Studio City, CA and you were talking about putting together this show with some other people and I sa id gir l you don't need to do that youre on a whole other level, and I remember you talking about auditioning for Tyler Perry at that time, but did you think working w ith Mr. Perry would manifest in you r life so quickly?

Cocoa: Um, the thing about being in Hollywood and being in the business is everything is so unpredictable there's no time limit, or anything you can do. I mean that's why you have people every talent level, every experience background, and look. You know there's no rhyme or reason to Hollywood. It's either your time or it isn't and you keep grinding hoping that your t ime will come. I mean it did blow me away



that it started like a windfall and it kept com ing and coming and com ing, but I also know that you know, I did a lot of hard work to get here and maybe God just felt like it's okay, she's ready. Everybody ain't mentally, emotionally, and spiritually equipped for this craziness. There is a lot going on and you can easily get delusiona l and really lose a grip on reality if you are not grounded and know what's going on.

-ria: That's so true. Coooa: Sharing yourself w ith the world and keeping some of yourself for yourself and for those people who really know you. And you know I never ever get cocky. I stay humble.

-ria: Now you play J ennifer on Tyler Perry's sitcom For Better or for Worse. Do you identify w ith this character, what drew you to Jennifer? Do you and Jennifer have similar personalities? Because what I can tell from the show, Jennifer is a very real character and you've always been real; that's one characteristic I know you definitely have (laughs).

Coooa: Yes, Jennifer is very real but I know a lot of people like her: strong, sing le mothers, who hold down their house, raise their children, don't take no mess from nobody and still want to be loved, respected and treated well. I mean who doesn 't know women like that? So I am able to identify because I know women like that.

-ria: How is it working on the set w ith the cast of Why Did I Get Married?, and working with Mr. Tyler Perry? Because a lot of actors dream of working with him it's not just the black actors dream but it is the dr eam of many actors. www.plu

Coooa: Yeah, yes he's great. Because he is a respected director and producer he has transcended color actors of all races and colors wou ld really love to work with him, and I feel honored every day I can drive onto that set and drive past that big sign that says Ty ler Perry Studios. Working w ith Mr. Perry is an honor because you know honestly hes making me a better actress because he allows me freedom w ith my character. You don't find a lot of directors that allow you the freedom with the character like he does.

-ria: Beyond you taping For Better or For Worse, and now you have this pilot that has been picked up with Cedric the Entertainer and you 're still touring at the same time you have Motherhood coming up and this is a lot. How do you plan on balancing this?

Coooa: Well w ith t he grace of God .

Goooa Brown: America's Homegirl

There are women out here doing more than me and they're balancing it all. There just comes a time when you have to say NO. That's what it all boils down to. I am beginning to learn how to give myself limitations in the sense of me rea lizing okay Cocoa you've got too much on your plate now and saying NO, I cannot do that now. I have a great support system w ith my fr iends and fam ily. You know I am the kind of person that will not slow down; I have not slowed down my entire pregnancy! Taking it one day at a t ime and my husband is great, my fam ily is great, and I have great friends around.

Tla: The path to Hollywood obviously is never easy, especially for curvaceous women/ plus sized women, everyone in Hollywood is practically a size 2 . I embrace my curves and I

know you embr ace yours. Has there ever been a t ime in your life when you didn't embrace your curves, or tried to change yourself?

Coooa: You know of course I went through a phase where I didn't like my body and I was insecure and worried about how I appeared to other people especially with being in Hollywood. You know when I f irst got to Hollywood I was told I needed to either lose 50 pounds or gain 50 pounds the size I was at wasn't gonna work and I was like wow! So I went the first route to try and lose some weight and I did and I was going out for some stuff and when I ga ined weight I began to work more which is funny. But on a personal t ip I was on set having this conversation with M ichael Jai White two days ago and I was tell him about being a woman

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Ooooa Browa: America's Homegirl

my size the kind of men I have come across and when you are a plus sized woman there are three types of men you come across.

-ria: Yes please tell us! (Laug hing) Coooa: You get the guy who loves big women but doesn't want anyone to know, then you get the man who thinks big women are insecure and easy and they can get away w ith murder, or you get the guy who loves big girls and tells you you 're not big enough (laughs)

your size. Embrace who you ar e! So I need you to love how God made you and dress accordingly.

If you enjoyed this interview and what Cocoa Brown had to say, make sure to check your local listing and watch her on TBS's For Better or Worse and also check out some of her past work on GCB, Lakeview Terrace,& 2 Broke Girls. Follow Cocoa Brown on twitter @Cocoabrown22.

so funny!

Visit for tour dates.

Coooa: If you rea lly check it most

Follow Tia D. Rudd

big girls got way more confidence than skinny chicks and more swagger. I know I'm big I'm not gonna ask you, Do I look fat in these jeans? I know I look fat in these jeans. (Laughs) I work around some of the most beautiful women in the industry and trust and believe they would kill for my confidence. Rea l mean love a woman that's confident with swagger it 's not my pretty face, my t iny waist and my fat a**. It's a woman w ith confidence from the inside real men love that, like my husband loves my swagger. And you know of course you got the dudes that treat the big gir ls like this is my hom ie, she my homie! Never make her his girl but that's his homie, his big sister, his little sister. You know that's the type of man that would marry a skinny wretched chick before he married a good big girl (L aughs)

Twitter: @TTRUDD

-ria: (laughs) Yes that is so true and

Website: lnstagram: TTRUDD

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G OOD 01:

-ria: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedu le to speak with me Cocoa. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Coooa: Yes, love how God made you, stop wearing clothes that are too t ight, wear something appropriate for

by Tia D. Rttdd Name: Tomasina "Goo Goo" Atkins Hometown: Inglewood, CA Occtipation: Reality TV Star on WE's show "Mary Mary", Celebrity Stylist & Interior Designer Cm·•·ent Size: 14 & loving it. If you don't like it keep moving! Favo1·ite Singe•·: Her mother Favo1·iteJeans: Joe's, PZI, Cookie Johnson, Not Your Daughter's Jeans. Love stretch jeans and never want regular jeans to come back again! Favo•·iteAccesso•·ies: Rings & bracelets. I have my own exclusive jewelry line. It's called Exclusive Pieces By Goo Goo www.



by Tracie Stern Model Development Director


One of the biggest misconceptions in the fashion industry amongst models is that it's all about them. This couldn't be further from the truth. Whether you are a blond, brunette or red head, age 16, 25 or 35, your appearance is what got you hired over all the other models that auditioned for the job. This can lead to some models believing they are special, untouchable, especially to those that are booking a lot of jobs. Models are a dime a dozen and can be replaced simply by making a phone call. Keeping this in mind, let's talk about the day you get your first opportunity. Upon arrival at a shoot o r s how, you always want to c heck in . It wil l either be w it h ha ir and ma keup or w it h t he stylist. One of them wil l then notify t he rest of the t eam . If no o ne is around when you get t her e, just stay p ut. don't sta rt wa ndering around on your own , you may miss someo ne in passing and t her efore appear lat e when you make it bac k to yo ur a r rival poi nt. Your ha ir and makeup team a r e your best f r iends on set. in theory only. Be car eful what you say around them as it could be used against you at a later date. Always r emain professional a nd keep your personal issues & beliefs out of t he conversation. Even if they are asked for. The stylist is one of the most important people o n the team . Th ei r opinion of you is ver y va luab le to t he client. so make su r e you are on your A ga m e. This incl udes having a complete models bag fil led wit h al l t he tools necessary to pull off the job; for example, nude bra & panty, blac k bra , strapless ver sions of bot h, padding if

necessary etc. There is nothing worse than a model showing up for a job unprepared. Also remember that t he stylist has most likely been a r ound these c lot hes for weeks already a nd has pr essed a nd stea med them to per fection . Do not at a ny time, sit down in t he clothing prior to ar rivi ng on the set. Even if this mea ns you a r e standing backstage fo r an hour, if you sit. you run the r isk of r uin ing the clothing, causing more work for the stylist. Not a point in favor of a rebooking. W hen hair, makeup and styling are com plete, you w ill be escor ted onto the set. There you will most likely meet the photographer and t he client if you haven't previously met. The photog rapher will f ill one of two positions on t he shoot. They will either be the voice of the client. meaning t here is no physical representation from t he com pany you are shoot ing for, or they will be the 2 nd in com mand answering to t he cl ient's representative on set. Either way, you do not. at any time, want to make t he photogr apher ang ry

PLUS Model Magazine May 2012

with you . They ca n ma ke or b r eak a mod els ca r ee r. T his has been prove n throug hout t he history of th is business . It's c r ucia l for you to be on your best behavior both on and off t he job, especial ly in publ ic venues where you are represe nti ng you r self as a model, li ke in dustry funct ions, parties a nd eve nts o r on social med ia. T h is industry is very small and news (gossip) travels very fast. This industr y is also ve r y well known for jealousy, sp ite and all kinds of nasty stuff. It's a very pessimistic attitude to take but you really have to be ca r ef u l who you trust, especia lly with othe r mod els. With t he limited jobs avai lable a nd new faces popp ing up everyday, it's a dog eat dog world

out the r e a nd with one false step you could be heari ng nasty rumors about yourself that are completely untrue. One of t he biggest mistakes young models make is d iscussing the private deali ng s between t hei r a g ents and themselves to include job rates and professiona l conf licts in f r ont of othe r s in the business. You do n't know who your team k nows o r is friends w ith, this is why it's always best to keep to yourself on the job, get it do ne, and g et out. T he mo r a l of the story, by s imply keepin g th ings on the job s imple & prof essiona l, you w ill guarantee yourself a nother day a nd another dollar in t his vastly competitive marketplace.

Dress. Donna Margan: Nee/dace and bracelets. Ashley Stewart; Ring. Avenue

Na111e: Locatio11: Heigl1t:



By Tiffany Bank What made you decide to become a plus size model? I went to a performing and media arts college and was exposed to so many talented individuals who were fashion and photography majors, but being a full figured woman in a straight world gave me little hope to even think of modeling as a professional reality, so I decided to pursue a career in marketing events and promotions. I worked as a promotional spokes model for some amazing brands, and it eventually led me to start developing marketing programs at the agency level. Last year I was on a team that pitched ideas for Lane Bryant's Curvy Revolution . The research I did blew my mind. I had no idea that there was such a supportive plus size community. I was inspired and needed to see how I could fit in it. My friends were very supportive, so little

PLUS Model Magazine- May 2012


the industry and make me so proud to be part of this movement. Tr acie Stern has also been an amazing mentor th r ough her very helpful webina r s and monthly articles .

Finish this sentence: The plus industry is: Transcending and inspiring women everywhere thick and thin. Women in the plus industry are consistently breaking barriers. Plus . . . s1ze women are ga1n1ng more confidence with every passing day. Their voices are getting louder and demanding more from designers and retailers. Events catering to the plus size woman are getting bigger and fashion weeks are start ing to develop all over the country. We get bigger in numbers. This is no longer a skinny world. Big is beautiful and plus is positive. Even some of the skinny gir ls are wishing they had more curves. by little started test shooting with gr eat photog r aphers, and found the Thyck Troupe, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting full f igured women in the arts. I later gained the conf idence to enter in the PMM and Dorothy Combs Model Search and won second place . It was a sign to me that I had potential.

Who are your favorite curvy role models? There are way too many beautiful and inspiring curvy women out there! The gorgeous Ashley Graham and Toccara Jones inspired me to venture into modeli ng. Models like you (Tiffany Bank], Fluvia Lacerda, Rosie Mercado and Tess Munster are helping to change www. plusmodelmag. com

I was honored to be the judges one of for the New Jersey Full-Figured Fashion Week Model Search and you were chosen by our panel as a finalist. What was that experience like? I have to say that experience was completely unexpected. Ther e were so many beautiful and talented

May Spotlight Model/PLUS Model Magazine

models on t hat stage t hat were not only repr esented by well known agencies but some who had been on the runway all weekend, so I was floored when they called my name. To have been judged by top models and indust ry professionals was a bit nerve w r ecking, but a great opportunity to show that Chicago has talent too! Being a f inalist out of 50 models was a very sur real and amazing experience. Hard work pays off and I have to thank a gr eat team in Chicago and Puerto Rico who support me and encourage me to do my best.

If you could pick the perfect plus modeling campaign for yourself, who would you want to work for? That's so hard because there ar e so many amazing designers I want to work w ith. Ashley Stewart is who I'm str iving to wor k w ith because they wer e the very first plus retailer I ever purchased f r om. IGIGI is a dream in the making as well. Working w ith Boutique Larr ieux turned me on to Jessica Simpson's plus line and I would absolutely love to work with her. Her clothes fit like a glove and I love how she understands not just the curvy woman, but the busty woman. What are your dreams, desires and goals as a plus model? I want to be a role model to future aspir ing models just like they were to me. I want to help the industry progress in the most positive light and be an ambassador for

positive body image and acceptance. Whether at a 1 2 or a 24 it's very important fo r women to love themselves and their bodies.

What can we look forward to you doing in the next year? I've just been signed with IPM models and I've been blessed with many oppor tun ities that include wal ki ng on t he runway for designers like Jada Michaels, Akira, Lane Bryant and Eileen F isher. You'll hopefully be seeing my face a bit more her e and there. The next big opportunity will be wa lking in Puerto Rico for Fashion Passport - Plus Edition on May 6th w ith models li ke the beautifu l Ana Garcia.

Name your favorite store to shop for curvy clothes in your hometown. I will forever love Ashley Stewart. They hit it r ight on the nose with many of their designs. Vive le Femme Boutique has some real ly great class ic pieces from time to time and I love New York and Company and Lane Bryant for their Cacique line and jeans. To book Jessica or for more inforamtion: Contact IPM Models

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PLUS Model Magazine: May 2012 Issue Plus Size Fashion Denise Bidot