Curvysta: A Curvy Fashionista. According to Jovanna Reyes, owner of Curvysta (review coming soon) and coordinator of Fashion Night Out Plus, a Curvysta is “Someone who loves fashion and all it entails from head to toe.” This esteemed photographer, designer, and boutique store owner is an absolute gem! Humble, when asked of her photography, she says “I still have a lot to learn.”
This woman has her hands in all things plus from events and stores all over the country, photography, designers, magazines, etc. Of coordinating Fashion Night Out Plus, she says “Being a fashion show coordinator comes naturally to me. I love it. During my time in Atlanta, I held shows on a regular basis. I even had a runway built for the boutique.”
We spoke with Jovanna about everything from her shows, to her clothing line, to her start as a photographer:
Bold Magazine: Tell us about life before Curvysta. You’re a very acclaimed plus sized photographer. How did you get started doing that?
Jovanna Reyes: I’m still smiling from your description of me as acclaimed. I’m so far from being Annie Liebowitz , Lucas pictures, or Inez Lewis, but I’m trying. Before Curvysta, I [wore] many hats. I was an analyst for a bank, retail jobs galore, from sales associate to the buying department. During those positions, I was very successful but always felt I should be doing something else. I started doing photography after opening my boutique in Atlanta. I was paying others to do pictures and did not always feel satisfied with the results. I finally decided to buy a camera and teach myself the basics. I think my talent when taking photos, is finding the right angles, which is very important when shooting plus size women.
BM: When did you start Curvysta?
JR: I started Curvysta in my mind in the early 90’s, but did not have the bravado to go for it. It took many years and I finally decided in 2007 to go for it. Curvysta started out as a plus size boutique first and then that gave me the courage to go forward and launch my designs.
BM: What was your very first design?
JR: My very first design was the lace dress. It was an homage to a dress my mom wore for special occasions. I’ve always wanted that dress, but could never find it in my size.
BM: Where do you see Curvysta going in the next year? 5 years?
JR: I am placing Curvysta in the New York area via a showroom. I believe this will give me access to more women in the Northeast area, as well as internationally. In five years, I would love Curvysta to become a label known for originality and quality. I would love to work with other Plus size entities like Lane Bryant and have a more affordable line of Curvysta offered through them. I would love to go to Brazil. Many curvy ladies are there and they embrace their curves like no other country.
BM: Let’s talk about Fashion Night Out Plus. Is this the first year you’re doing it? What’s it all about? How did you gather up the rest of the designers and models?
JR: Fashion Night Out Plus is something I’ve wanted to do since the first year of Fashion Night Out. I felt that there were not enough events for the Plus size woman. Of course, there is Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart. Outside of them there are no other options. Fashion Night Out Plus first event will be held in the Metro DC/VA/Md area at BeautyFull Boutique in Alexandria, VA. After meeting the owner of the boutique, Camille Leverett and meeting the owner of Pop Up Plus, Camille Newman, I decided to bring them together. It just made sense. We need to unite and help each other grow. For me FNO Plus is about creating a foundation of resources for plus size women and its about the party! I’ve been contacted by several plus magazines nationally and we are already setting the foundation for FNO Plus in New York, Detroit, Las Vegas, California and DC.
BM: What has your favorite role been?
JR: For me, photography, event coordinator and designer all tie in together. I cannot do one without the other. I’m also impatient, when I have an idea, I have to see it become its full potential. It can be an idea for an event, like Fashion Night Out Plus or a dress. I can’t just leave it in my head. It has to become tangible.
BM: You seem so busy. What do you like to do in your spare time?
JR: What is spare time? I’m a mother and wife, therefore I don’t really have spare time. I don’t always feel busy. There are times that it feels everything piles on at one time but I love staying busy. If I do feel overwhelmed, I just step back and try to take it down a notch. It may mean I have to say no to a few things.
BM: In your travels with Curvysta, have you seen any differences in the progress of plus sized fashion?
JR: I have seen a change. Plus size women are now demanding to receive better quality and better designs for the price. I always say there are hundreds of straight size designers that are so successful. Why in an industry that appeals to the majority size woman in the US, are we struggling to be seen? I applaud Donnella Tierney, Director of New Jersey Fashion Week, for taking the step and being inclusive. Let’s see if Mercedes Benz fashion week does the same.
BM: Lastly, show us your “bold” (Meaning tell us something beautiful and unique about you!
JR: My “bold” is the love for my children and husband. My children are the most beautiful thing I’ve been a part of. There is nothing I can create that would equal them. They are the reason I work so hard. They are my everything. They are my “bold”.
Christopher Salute is a Professor and Asst. Dean at Long Island University. His top three specialties include organizational change, market research, and digital marketing. Salute spent his career in banking, advertising, and e-commerce, working with firms like Yahoo! Inc., eBay, and Amazon.com. He has an earned Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with Minors in Business, Writing, and Communications from Siena College. His MBA in Management was earned at Molloy College. Salute completed his Ph.D. in Applied Organizational Psychology at Hofstra University. Read more at www.linkedin.com/pub/christopher-salute/7/ab9/261/.