I understand what goes into building and running a business today more than ever. I started my first business in the spring of 2012. Fast forward to 2019 and things are definitely different. Of course, I have implemented things like day planners, Google calendar and conference calls but the differences are far greater than the ways that I run my business on a day to day basis. For one, Joi-Louise the Label is my third business to date. Yes, I have tried this thing before.
One major difference is that I am more a part of my brand than I was with my other businesses. Now I don’t mean that I wasn’t involved or that I didn’t pull my weight, I mean I am more PUBLICLY involved with my brand. I chose to be the unofficial face of my brand because I started to realize that I was not only accepted but I was more relatable. Women started to gravitate to me and my designs because they saw me living in them.
I think of Oprah and how she has been always the cover girl of her magazine and how she has never been afraid to put herself out there regardless of her differences. I refuse to continue to live a life that society thinks that I should when it comes to fashion. I no longer care to live in “all black” because it is slimming. I won’t cover up my curves because they make others feel uncomfortable. I will wear stripes, floral prints, and polka dots because they make me feel amazing!
We are often either raised or taught by society that our physical appearance is supposed to be showcased according to our size, weight, shape or height. I was always told to wear loose fitting close that kit below the knee but also covered up the neck. I often times looked frumpy and my clothes were always "tone on tone" or the most disgusting print ever designed. I also looked older than I actually was.
In my pre-teen years, I started to rebel with my fashion choices. My grandmother thought it was a cool idea for me to get a jerry curl because she was getting one and reluctantly I agreed. Once it happened she expected me to wear my hair like her. Her hair was always in a curly wavy state and never really styled. I would wear butterfly clips, added ponytails and did everything I wanted with my hair. I didn’t realize it then, but I have been going against the grain from a very young age.
I stopped wanting to wear what my grandma and Mom would pick out for me.
I wanted to shop at Limited Too and wear what all of my peers were wearing but nothing fit me at that age. There were not clothing brands for plus-sized kids at that time. Actually, I don’t even think there are any brands for them today. By the time I got to high school, I developed a sense of style that my family didn’t quite understand, they would pick at me from time to time. They would say “Why are your jeans so tight?”, “Wow, Joi…your boobs are getting really big!”. I began to feel self-conscious and started covering up the very things that would later make me confident in life.
For my high school graduation, I wanted to make this denim-inspired dress to wear with a pair of DIY sandal heels I created. I began dating my husband about 7 months before this time and he made me feel beautiful about everything society and my family had, directly and indirectly, shamed me about. I hadn’t yet gone to fashion school so I had no formal design and construction training but I knew I was going to make it happen. I asked my grandmother to help me make it. She taught me how to make my first pattern, taught me about creating a lining and about darts and seam allowances. I was hooked! Right there in my grandma’s living room, we made my very first design happen from a sketch.
Building this brand has been an intricate part in finding me. Every day I discover something about ME that makes me cry, dance, smile and celebrate myself. I am the woman I’ve always wanted to be and it feels great! Here’s to continuing to know and LOVE her! There’s so much more to come from Joi-Louise the Label. We are just getting started!