"Enjoy the journey" those words still ring in my ear even though it's been weeks since I've interviewed Monica Davis founder and designer of Bjuled Couture Plus Size Swimsuits. Her designs are made exclusively for curvy women and has graced many fashion runways and she's been featured in various magazines (check out this Essence feature). But Monica's interest in swimwear goes much deeper than a simple love for fashion.
Growing up Monica admits to always being drawn to and having a great love for the water--beaches, pools,--anything dealing with the idea of being able to immerse yourself in a body of water. She would often have the opportunity to visit the beach for "mini-vacations" with her Daddy. She says that she's always been a Daddy's girl and cherishes the moments that he could get time away from his job as a butcher to help teach her how to swim.
Monica fell in love with the water and the freedom it would bring her. She says the beach was an escape and describes it as a place where heaven meets the earth. Being in the water is very spiritual to her and a way that she can feel cleansed from life. She admits that she's had some of her best conversations with God while being in or near the water.
Monica started out working in the medical field but quickly realized that life was not really for her. When her body changed she could no longer wear the clothes that she used to wear due to multiple surgeries. She felt depressed because now she had to find swim styles that complimented her new body frame. She also has experienced some serious health issues dealing with fibroid's. According to UCLA Health, "Fibroid's are the most frequently seen tumors of the female reproductive system. They are firm, compact tumors that are made of smooth muscle cells.
It is estimated that between 20 to 50 percent of women of reproductive age have fibroid's. In more than 99 percent of fibroid cases, the tumors are benign (non-cancerous). These tumors are not associated with cancer and do not increase a woman's risk for uterine cancer. Although it should be noted that obese and African American women are at a higher risk of developing these types of tumors. (for more information click here).
In most cases, fibroid's are very small. A lot of women don't even realize that they have them. I found out that I had one when I was pregnant with my son who is two years old now. But up until that moment I had no idea. I was advised that I didn't need to do anything because a lot of times these types of tumors shrink on their own.
However in Monica's case, her fibroid's did not shrink. They continued to grow. And although most people can live with fibroid's and not have any issues, some women do experience heavy menstrual periods, lower back pain, pain during intercourse, and anemia. This may not seem like a lot but when you personally have to deal with this it really does greatly affect your life.
I'll admit that I have issues with this as well and it is bothersome. I deal with heavy menstrual periods and I've always had low iron. It does indeed make you feel tired all the time. I've had to alter my eating habits and take iron supplements (which I hate) as well as take vitamins. It's extremely crucial that you stay on top of this if you experience it because our iron is very important. It felt great to be able to talk to someone who can relate to some issues that I experience but not always able to talk about.
Monica has had two surgeries because of her fibroid's. As these tumors grow they can deplete you of iron and cause you to have an iron deficiency. Monica has had two iron infusions. Having an iron deficiency leaves you tired and worn out. You loose interest in the things that you normally love. Some people confuse this with depression. Many times counselors and therapists will ask their clients to visit their physical doctor to have their iron levels check when they complain of being tired and losing interest in things they once loved.
Because of the issues with fibroid's and iron deficiencies Monica had a very tough decision to make. She had tried over the years to have children but was not successful. Unfortunately after trying a few more times and realizing that her health was not improving she made the decision to have a hysterectomy which took care of the fibroid and iron issues.
The surgeries that Monica has undergone have left physical, mental and emotional scars. But don't you dare feel sorry for her or count her out. She is a strong and courageous woman with an awesome testimony.
Because of the physical scars that surgeries left on her beautiful body Monica felt like she couldn't enjoy the Beach like she normally could and that really got her down. She couldn't find anything to wear because she had gained weight and had visible scars. So instead of feeling down about herself she decided that, "if you don't see it--create it" and I love her for that. I will always remember these words because they are so powerful.
Life will always bring challenges, trials and disappointments but it is up to us to be determined to PUSH through and persevere in-spite of! Monica started sketching designs for bathing suits for herself first. But then she thought, "hmm, if I'm going through this and feeling this way, so are other women!"
She received a lot of support and encouragement from family to go further--and that's exactly what she did. She took her sketches and designs to a seamstress who helped translate her designs to a manufacture in New York. She was introduced to a designer in Washington, D.C. who became her mentor and adviser. It took a full year of planning and traveling, praying and hard work for her to get her samples to a manufacture but once she did, doors began to open up.
Bjuled Couture Plus Size Swimsuits was birthed out of a lot of pain--which most dreams are--but it
In September 2015, after personally presenting Bjuled Couture Plus Size Swimsuits in the first ever pop-up street performances by Elucid Magazine in New York City, it was showcased one week later at The Church of Holy Apostles, presented by Elucid Magazine. Shortly after, Monica received a personal invitation to appear at the Harrisburg Fashion Week and ended the year as a presenting designer at LS 1426 Curves Swim week in Texas.
"It has been a wild ride so far and I look forward to immensely to expanding Bjuled Couture Plus Size Swimsuits and making the brand available to curvy women in top resorts and cruise lines in 2017. My loyal customers should also know that I am hoping to create a ready-to-wear line that meets their every day wardrobe needs. Stay tuned!"
JoJo West is the COO of Bjuled Couture Plus Size Swimsuits, as well as a professional plus size model and model coach in Miami, Fl. with more than 15 years of experience in modeling, pageantry, and dance, including ballet, jazz, and modern dance, beginning at age 5. From the ages of 10-16, she modeled for several local events in the South Florida area before taking a break from the industry, reemerging in 2012 as a plus size model. Since then, she has worked with several photographers across the East coast and has participated in several runway shows and trade shows incuding: Baltimore Fashion Week, DC Fashion Week, NYFW Plus, Elucid Magazine NY Fashion Week, Harrisburg Fashion Week and Ashley Stewart "Love Your Curves Tour".
Jojo's goals is not only to represent curvy and plus size women, but also to help women embrace who they are. As she say's, "The human form is beautiful regarless whether it's a size 2 or a size 16. Art and beauty are all about perception. Through Bjuled Couture, we are granted the privilege to create are by combining the designs with the beauty of the women wearing them."
Jojo's entrepreneurial spirit has continued to flourish, inspiring her current project of a 100% organic skin care brand that will help women feel even more beautiful in their bodies.
Before we ended our conversation I asked Monica what would she tell someone reading this who has a great idea but may be tip-toeing or hesitant to follow their dreams. This was her response: If you were diagnosed with Cancer and had only six months to live, what would you do? Would you be fearful? Would you care about what other thought or felt? Or would you live life to the fullest?
God gives all of us gifts. I tapped into my gift at the age of 41 and their are others who have began walking in their calling late in life. There is no age limit on your dreams. It's a challenge. The question is: Are you up for the challenge. Be your authentic self and follow YOUR dreams. Surround yourself with people that are on another level so that you can see what is possible in life. Don't listen to the naysayers--JUST DO IT!
Needless to say, I left this conversation with Monica so motivated! I love meeting and talking to people who have faced their challenges head on and come out successful. Monica is a very inspiring person with a beautiful collection of swimwear for curvy and plus size women. She has an amazing team of people working with her and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about who she is and why she started this amazing journey in the swimsuit business.
For more information on Monica Davis and Bjuled Couture Plus Size Swimwear and JoJo West please visit their websites (highlighted).
Bjuled Couture Plus Size Swimwear (Website)
|After my conversation with Monica I dug out this old poem I wrote years ago about an experience I had while at the beach.|
My Thoughts--by Candace Smith
I NEED MY THOUGHTS TO GO SOMEWHERE
OR A RIVER PERHAPS
ONE DAY I RELEASED THEM IN THE OCEAN
THAT WAS A GREAT DAY
FOR MY TEARS MIXED IN WITH THE WAVES EFFORTLESSLY
AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO HIDE THEM FROM ANYONE
I WAS FREE
IN THE OCEANS VASTNESS MY THOUGHTS WOULD BE SAFE
NO WORRIES ABOUT THEM BEING DISCOVERED
THEY FLOATED TO THE BOTTOM
WEIGHTED DOWN BY MY WILL
AND ANCHORED BY THE HEAVINESS OF MY SOUL
TODAY THE OCEAN IS NOT ACCESSIBLE TO ME
SO WHERE SHALL THEY GO
THERE IS NO SAFE PLACE AMONGST THIS DRY LAND
WHEREVER THEY ARE TOSSED THEY THREATEN TO RESURFACE AND HAUNT ME
SO I GUESS I WILL KEEP THEM WITH ME
BURIED IN THE BACK CLOSET OF MY MIND
HIDDEN UNDER THE BED OF MY HEART
SUPPRESSED IN THE DARKEST CAVES OF MY SOUL
THEY THREATEN TO ESCAPE
THEY WARN ME:
IT’S TOO CROWDED
THE DAY WILL COME WHEN I CAN HIDE THEM NO MORE