We are so thrilled to introduce you to the very stylish #girlboss, Nina Spain, founder of Nina Monique Voluptuous Boutique. Please be sure to support her website launch (check out the video for details).
What inspired you to start Nina Monique Voluptuous Boutique?
One day while watching Queen Latifah’s show, Singles Ladies on VH1, the realization hit me that I wanted to be like the boutique owner Valerie ‘Val’ Stokes. I wanted to take it even a step further and create my own clothing line. Also, I was frustrated with corporate America and I was in an unhappy, unhealthy relationship. It felt like it was time to invest in myself, be my own boss, and do something I enjoy. I wanted to own something big, for some it’s a house, but I wanted my own business. Since I love stylish clothes, which have been lacking for the plus community, I said why not start a much-needed clothing line?
How is it going?
It’s definitely challenging, but it’s all an experience, so I can’t complain. Having my own business is forcing me to step outside my comfort zone and I enjoy it, because I feel and see myself growing every day.
How did you come up with the name?
I’ve been through a lot; in particular, self-esteem issues. I wanted to name the line after myself because I feel once people get to know what I stand for; they will be able to relate to Nina Monique. Nina Monique represents the two sides of who I am. Nina is corporate and the one who has to remain cool, calm, and collected at all times because she is the money maker and the face of the company. Nina is the woman who endures the trials and tribulations of life so Monique can shine and live freely. Monique is a Diva!!! Monique is bold, bossy, glamorous, sexy, and fearless. She enjoys being in front of the camera, being adventurous, taking time to relax, and loves being different from others.
You want women to feel empowered in your clothing. What do you do that’s special to make that happen?
I’ve been through some challenging situations in my life, when it comes to self-esteem. I was bullied, assimilated into Corporate America, and entrenched in an unhealthy relationship. When women wear pieces of my clothing, it symbolizes the growth in my life; how I’ve overcome past struggles. I, myself, purchase a designer’s clothing if I’m able to relate to it. For example, I like floral pieces because at one point in my life, they contrasted with the dark issues I was facing. In my own clothing line, I use bold colors and fitted short dresses with certain cuts to showcase a little cleavage and skin. I want women to be able to take a chance with one of my items and step outside their comfort zone to be bold and fearless and wear something that showcases what’s normally hidden. It took a long time for me to wear sleeveless shirts and dresses, but now I find it liberating because I overcame that fear of being judged.
Was starting a business what you expected? What have the most surprising parts been?
Yes, it’s definitely what I expected. Hard work, multiple hats/responsibilities, headaches, sacrificing, and exhaustion, but above all I love it, because I built Nina Monique Voluptuous Boutique from the ground up. I don’t have kids, so I consider my clothing line my first child. The most surprising parts have been the design process for the logo, design process for the garments, and building the website. All three are very time consuming, but fun because I have the final decision on what stays and goes.
Is Nina Monique your full time gig? If not, what else do you do, and how do you balance?
No, Nina Monique is not my full-time job, I wish it were, and soon it will be. Currently, I do consulting work for various Investment Banks in NYC, I’m a Compliance Analyst. It’s hard to balance work and my clothing line, but I try to meditate at least three times a day to keep my energy aligned and remain in positive spirits. Sundays I normally keep clear, so I can relax before starting another week.
You knew you had a great idea. Who did you have to convince in order to launch and how did you do it?
Well at the moment my clothes are still in production. I will be launching next year, but I don’t have to really convince anyone to work with me, because after telling them about myself and the purpose of my clothing line, they are onboard with me. What I learned from investment banking is state your name, purpose, and product; be genuine, professional and most importantly, yourself. This was critical in pitching my business to others.
How do you get the word out about your brand?
Right now, I’m using Social Media, attending events, participating in local business expos, and doing speaking engagements to encourage and empower young people. My website will be launching very soon.
Body confidence…do you think it’s really possible? How do you achieve it?
Yes, I do think body confidence can be achieved, unfortunately we live in a society where media constantly forces Hollywood beauty standards in our face. I think what people keep forgetting is while you’re picking apart or saying you don’t like certain parts of your body, there’s always someone out there who has it worse. They may have some type of body deformation or are suffering from a disease which is causing issues with their body. People’s opinions are just that-opinions. This world will find something wrong with someone all the time. When I was in grammar school and some of high school, I was teased about my complexion and weight. I carried the hurt throughout my adulthood and that’s how I ended up with someone who didn’t appreciate me. How could I expect someone to appreciate me when I didn’t love or appreciate myself? Now, I look in the mirror and can proudly say, ”I’m a beautiful, powerful, hard working, smart, independent, voluptuous, dark skin woman.” I love me, I appreciate and love every inch of skin including the stretch marks. Body confidence can be achieved by realizing we were born different and because of that we all have something different to offer. If everyone in this world looked the same, we wouldn’t have diversity. Appreciate your body. You may think you have a “problem area,” and yet someone else may be saying about you, “Wow I wish I had her legs because I can’t walk,” or, “I wish I was healthy like her because I’m tired of all these surgeries for my condition.”
Social media… confidence boosting or demoralizing? What’s your view? What can we do better?
I think it can be both, honestly. In my opinion each person can use the internet to their own advantage. I use it for business purposes and to keep in touch with family. It can be used for networking and joining support groups which is great because you can connect with everyone around the world. It can also be used as a way for miserable and unhappy people to attack others, but I personally feel if you have good intentions and the energy you’re putting out through your page is positive, you shouldn’t receive hateful comments. I try to keep everything positive on my social media pages. It’s ridiculous when I see people arguing over foolish topics with someone they don’t even know.
Thank you Nina. We know your launch is going to be amazing!!