‘My parents got divorced, and I ended up staying home to help my mom, and I went straight into retail after high school.’
“I grew up in Port Jefferson. From a young age, I always wanted to be a business owner, but I wasn’t tremendously involved in school. During that time, my parents got divorced and I ended up staying home to help my mom, and I went straight into retail after high school.
“I worked in Target, craft stores and gift shops. That’s when I fell in love with every aspect of retail. I was even more inspired to open my own store one day. In my early twenties, I saw a little shop down in Port Jefferson. It was going for $500 a month. I said to myself, I’m going to rent this place and make it into a shop … but that never happened. I didn’t have the money. I kind of just stuck with working in retail. I would start off as a cashier, and within weeks or months I was a manager in some capacity.
Every bride that comes in has a reliving experience. I understand that anxiety, so it’s nice that I can help them feel better about the shopping experience.
“During this time, I started gaining weight. I used to go to the mall to buy a pair of sneakers or a piece of jewelry. Then I would go to Lane Bryant for my clothes shopping and put the items in the Express bag so that people wouldn’t know that I shopped at Lane Bryant. I had so much anxiety and just wanted to feel comfortable shopping.
“In my late thirties, I started to be more confident. I began looking for my wedding dress and realized there is no store that is dedicated to offering plus sizes as the default. Thats when I realized I wanted to open my own bridal shop, a place that specializes in plus sizes. I’ve been to other stores, and they say they have plus size, but it’s only an 18. So still, even if she’s a 20, she can’t try it on.
“When I created my shop, I wanted people to get the opportunity to try on their dream dress. My store has been open for five years, and I love everything about being a business owner in their industry.
“Every bride that comes in has a reliving experience. I understand that anxiety, so it’s nice that I can help them feel better about the shopping experience.
“Fast-forward, I’ll be opening my second location in Port Jefferson. It’s been almost 20 years since I have been back hoping to make something of myself. Being back and having a store in Port Jefferson is almost surreal and comforting. It’s almost like a homecoming. It feels really good to be back.”
Interviewed by Starr Fuentes