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Marie Denee

Marie Denee

by Melissa Magsaysay

The Pioneering Plus-Size Blogger on Building a Media Company

Back in 2008 when blogging was a relatively new concept and the term “plus size clothing” was synonymous with less than desirable smock-like dresses, Marie Denee was creating a movement and assembling a community of people of all shapes and sizes who were interested in talking about and wearing really chic clothing.

Today, the Atlanta-based blogger and media entrepreneur counts her website The Curvy Fashionista as one of the most popular resources for size-inclusive fashion news. The evolution of the site has brought the TCFStyle Expo, a weekend of plus-size collections, panels and workshops, plus energetic fashion shows.

The well attended events and excitement surrounding them are a testament to the captive community Denee has built. She continues to be a positive force for her followers and a well read platform for promoting diversity and inclusivity.

Here, she talks about how she built her blog and how more brands should be bringing their plus sized offering front and center.

"We need to acknowledge and recognize the women of color who have laid the foundation for where plus size fashion is today. We need to include a varying range of plus size models who are visibly plus in all campaigns and visuals. We need these brands that have physical stores and for those that do carry plus to get the items into store and merchandised just like our straight size counterparts."

Q & A With Marie

Where are you from? How long have you lived there?

I currently live in the Atlanta area, but I am a military brat. Most of my childhood was spent growing up in Hawaii, Virginia, Japan, and even a little bit in England!

What was the inspiration to launch The Curvy Fashionista?

It was a random accident. What I started it out to be was different from what it has become. After I finished school, I used The Curvy Fashionista as a platform for me to tell my story along the way sharing the contemporary plus size finds. After I lost my job and went full speed ahead, the blog took a life of its own and placed me on this journey. I have grown the blog into a digital platform with contributors, video content, and branded events like the 4th annual TCFStyle Expo, our inaugural TCFCruise to Cozumel Mexico via the Royal Caribbean, brunches, and much more coming down the pipeline. The brand has definitely evolved beyond my wildest dreams. As for why: to provide resources to empower the plus size woman to find the designers and retailers who cater to her and her needs, to provide a safe space to talk about issues unique to her, and to have a little fun while doing it.

Have you always loved fashion? How would you describe your personal style?

I have! I remember playing dress up in my mother's clothes, sketching in my notebooks as a child. From there, when I could start working, I was in retail all the way up through the start of The Curvy Fashionista! From Express to Bloomingdales and various retailers in between, I have always been in awe of how women perceive themselves with clothing, I always loved her transformation. That moment when she saw herself as beautiful. It is so interesting what the right piece of clothing can do for a woman.

My personal style is all over the place, changing with my mood, but at its core I would have to say somewhere in between boho luxe and rock and roll glam. Polished with an edge and a free spirit to it. But as I have gotten older, I do find it getting a bit bolder than I have been in the past and I love the transition.

Do you feel like the fashion industry has shifted to become more inclusive since you started the site?

Yes and no. Yes on its face, but when you dig a bit deeper, there is so much that is still left on the table. Plus size fashion is a result of the grass roots efforts to challenge societal norms, that then have laid the foundation for brands to rise up and flourish. The amount of indie plus size brands has definitely grown over the years and it is a beautiful thing to watch. Bloggers have leveraged their platforms to become kickass business owners. Activists have used their platforms to create larger ones to broker book deals, speak on larger platforms to continue to champion size acceptance. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

Overall, we do have more access, more brands and more options thanks to the internet. However, no, we still have brands who only do plus size online. Brands that will only create 25% of their collection in plus. Brands who have not embraced the full size range of the plus size woman.

What more do you think needs to be done for people to be more accepting and inclusive?

We need to acknowledge and recognize the women of color who have laid the foundation for where plus size fashion is today. We need to include a varying range of plus size models who are visibly plus in all campaigns and visuals. We need these brands that have physical stores, those that do carry plus to get the items into store and merchandised just like our straight size counterparts. We need to have the various voices who have championed plus size fashion and its growth to be heard and acknowledged, beyond the three who seem to be the default voices for the community. We need major companies and brands who have received an influx of investments for their new plus size business to connect with the community, to create programs to nurture these independent designers.

What kinds of topics do your readers respond to best?

It varies! They always love giving feedback about what and how they feel about where plus size fashion is now. They love to celebrate new designers and collections. They love to learn about what is new and what reflects them.

What have been some of the best/most uplifting stories you've ever done?

I love doing interviews and features on women who have been making their mark in the industry. Whether it is a fashion blogger spotlight, an interview with a designer or a feature on a blogger-turned-businesswoman, these types of posts make me happy and bring me joy. I also have to say the posts where I am most afraid to share, the ones about my personal journey, being transparent and the responses they receive - those have moved me more than anything else.

You've accomplished so much with your blog over the past decade, what do you feel to be your biggest triumph?

That I am still here and only growing. Honestly! I would never think that I went to school to run a digital platform that has grown into an official business. Who knew that the crazy ideas and visions that I have had would come to pass? This TCFStyle Expo is the one that takes me back. I had a vision for this years ago and got scared. I thought to myself, “no, that is too much, Marie.” Now look at where we are! In our 4th year, with over 40 brands and retailers providing an in- person shopping and social experience that has inspired, motivated, and celebrated us!

But honestly, the entire journey excites me. The awards, the recognition, and the continued growth of the brand and my personal growth as a woman and business owner is my biggest triumph.

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