Marie Denee is the creator of the digital platform, The Curvy Fashionista, an established and respected voice in the plus size fashion world. With over eleven years of experience, Denee has made it her mission to continuously show women that they can be “Curvy, Confident, and Chic.” Through the Curvy Fashionista, started in 2008, Denee and her team, showcase plus size wardrobe and style options from the industry’s top fashion brands, as well as share news and events for plus size people in a world where fashion for this community is often overlooked.
Sought after for her fashion and styling advice for the curvy fashion forward woman, Denee was honored as The Root 100’s List of the Most Influential African Americans in 2017 and the award for The Network Journal’s Top 40 under 40 in 2018. Partnered with top retailers and brands such as Nordstrom, Marina Rinaldi, Old Navy, Gwynnie Bee, Eloquii, Ashley Stewart, Chevrolet, and other brands through hosting, consulting, and strategic partnerships. Marie Denee joins Forbes to talk more about her career in fashion and the plus size community.
Goldie Chan: Hello Marie, thank you for talking with us today. What has your career path been?
Marie Denee: I had been working in retail for 11-12 years before I started TCF. With my background in retail, I wanted to marry my passion for fashion with what I had learned in school.
Initially I wanted to open up a plus size boutique. I started TCF right as I finished my MBA in Marketing. With my boutique, TCF was initially to be a tool to help tell the story of the brand as I was building it. I was very fortunate to dedicate my MBA to the plus size fashion space as much as possible.
However, when life happened, I realized I had to choose one or the other, I could not do both, so I took the biggest leap of faith and went all in on TCF. 14 years later, here I am! We’ve since grown from a blog to a media platform, catering exclusively to the plus size shopper. There have been pivots and twists and turns along the way, but here we are!
Chan: What has been your favorite part of growing your own company?
Denee: I love the newness of each day! Each day is a different one. There is always something new happening and it keeps me on my toes.
But if I had to choose my favorite part? Is knowing that the words we write have positively impacted our community. For me, it is knowing that we helped someone navigate through plus size fashion confidently, that is extremely rewarding. Hearing our readers’ stories, connecting with our community, and creating new friendships from this space has been such an impactful part of the journey.
Chan: What is an inspiring story that has resonated with you?
Denee: So, pre-pandemic, we used to produce a brand cruise, the TCFCruise. Well, there was this distinct group of women who attended and upon asking them how they found out about the cruise, they told me the most impactful story.
They were first introduced to TCF by a friend who had recently passed away. To honor her memory, they all meet up together from across the US to attend our events. I cried. I was humbled and honored that they shared this with me and that I was able to provide a space for them to get together in this way. Not only that, I have stayed in contact with a few of the women from the group and we are friends to this day.
Chan: How would you describe your personal brand?
Denee: You know what? That is an interesting question – one thatI have had to sit with for some time… I have never really centered myself in these endeavors as I have focus more on the brand and community that I serve. I suppose I am a bit of a nerd, who loves to help others and provide assistance to others.
Chan: What are you currently working on?
Denee: Right now, we are in the throes of planning out 2023 into 2024, as we have noticed that folks are ready to get out and reconnect with the community. Events, growing the team, and scaling options.
That means that I am focusing on making sure that the foundation of the brand is solid as we also eye scaling options for the brand. I am really excited about this and am excited about what we have in store for The Curvy Fashionista!
Chan: What is a dream brand you’d like to partner with?
Denee: I want to work with brands who are curious about and around the plus size consumer. Those who know that there is something there and they need a little bit of direction, insight and expertise from a media and market perspective to help guide them. With that in mind, I have had Target and Theory at the top of my list. To be able to bring plus size fashion offline and in store with a tried and true experience- that is ultimate for me.
But regardless of brand, I want to be able to provide resources and access to plus size fashion, offline and in person to as many plus size people as possible. With only 8% of stores carrying plus sizes in person, the opportunity is vast. However I can help drive that number up, I will…
Chan: What do you do to uplift others in your community?
Denee: I love to amplify and share. You will always catch me on Twitter, retweeting someone’s news or content. It makes me happy seeing others win and for me, that is exciting. Also, it does not ever take away from what I am doing to celebrate others. So, I will continue doing so!
But what brings me joy is providing insight, feedback, and tips to other content creators, helping them grow, develop, and navigate this online media space- it is vast and wild.
Chan: Any last branding or career advice for this year?
Denee: Remember your why. Why you got started. Why you are doing the work you are doing. And why that excites you. Knowing your why and holding on to it will serve as your north star as life and business happens. It is very easy to lose sight of that, but if you keep your why at the center of everything you do, finding your path/purpose becomes much easier and easier to course correct!
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