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Interview - Big Diva Fashions Entrepreneur
Taunia Soderquist is the entrepreneurial mind behind Big Diva Fashions. She has elaborated on an old idea morphing it into a new shoppe with the plus-size diva in mind. If you don't all ready know, Big Diva Fashions (BDF) is an online consignment store for plus-size fashions. Recently, I had a chance to chat with the Diva Taunia.
Moe: Hi Taunia. Thanks for agreeing to the interview. Taunia is a unique name. How do you pronounce it?
Diva Taunia: Happy to oblige! My name is pronounced like Tonya or Tawnya. I hated it when I was a kid because no one could ever pronounce it, but as I got older I realized my parents had given me a great stage name!
Moe: You're based out of Boston, MA right? How long have you lived there?
Diva Taunia: Yes, I'm based out of the Metro-Boston area. I've lived here in New England almost my entire life except for a brief period of time after college when I lived in NYC in the West Village.
Moe: What is unique about Boston?
Diva Taunia: Well the obvious first unique thing about Boston is its history! A lot of old world charm can still be seen in Boston in the cobblestone roads and architecture. It's really a very beautiful city. As a musician, I also really love the music scene and the diversity in cultures here.
Moe: What's fashion and shopping like for the plus-size woman in Boston?
Diva Taunia: I've recently come to find out that plus size women in the Boston area have more retail places to shop than in a lot of other areas of the country. More and more stores are adding plus sections and in the past few years retailers have come to realize plus gals want to look HOT and moo-moos don't cut it! I know where all the best deals are and all the trendiest plus clothes are in this area!
Moe: You are the creator of Big Diva Fashions. Can you give us your interpretation of what BDF is and what it has to offer the plus-size shopper?
Diva Taunia: Big Diva Fashions is run like an online consignment shop. In other words, there's one of each item rather than multiple sizing and colors. As a buyer, I'm able to access name brand items and offer them to customers at savings of sometimes up to 90% off retail costs. Every few weeks new items are added.
What Big Diva Fashions also offers is great customer service. I am in constant contact with my customers through the store's Yahoo Group and offer lots of ways to earn gift certificates and discounts. We'll also be featuring Big Diva Fashion Models on both the Yahoo Group and the website: our beautiful diva customers modeling their purchases! It's the easiest way to stay connected. People on the Yahoo Group learn about special sales, contests, giveaways and more. They also get first dibs on new items! It's the best way to stay in contact with me and give your suggestions for Big Diva Fashions!
Moe: What exactly is a consignment shop?
Diva Taunia: I think the word "consignment" typically conjures up pawn shop images. In this case, I use the word consignment because the items are one-of-a-kind. There's hardly ever multiple sizing. While most of the items are brand new with tags, I also occasionally list gently worn pieces that are in excellent condition. I like to think of it as one of those funky hidden-treasure stores you'd see on the streets of NY, just online!
Moe: How did this idea come about? Why did you think you needed and could fill this niche?
Diva Taunia: The idea came about because I was selling a lot of stuff through online auctions and I quite honestly got tired of paying the fees. I did a lot of research and found that a lot of online stores offered either "grandma-ish" clothing or jacked up the prices. As a plus size woman myself, I wanted to offer clothing that *I* would wear at costs that *I* could afford (and believe me, as a musician...that's got to be low)! I built the site myself and run it from my home. I have very little overhead, and therefore can afford to keep costs low. Plus, it makes me feel good there are some knock-out plus size divas workin' the town out there that I helped dress!
Moe: Do you get your consignment clothing from the Boston area only or do you accept clothing on consignment from all over the US. How exactly does the consignment part work?
Diva Taunia: For a while, I did accept consignment from others in this area, but I became overwhelmed with the amount of people who wanted me to sell their stuff! I've unfortunately had to stop accepting donations for a while. However, I am still open to purchasing wholesale lots from folks who have "diva" and/or "rock star glamour" type clothing.
Moe: You've been open since Jan/05. What are your future plans for the shoppe? Do you plan to have a walk in shoppe?
Diva Taunia: My future plans are to have the shop grow a bit more and be able to hire an assistant to help. Honestly, my goals are pretty simple: to make a little decent extra income, but more importantly to keep my diva friends looking great and not breaking their bank!
Right now, the store is completely online. My hope is that I'll eventually be able to open a small shop and hire someone on. So ladies, know that your purchase will help eventually build a Big Diva Fashions empire!! lol
Moe: Is this a full-time venture for you or do you have another day job?
Diva Taunia: It's a part-time venture that has grown into more than a few days a week! My full-time job is as a musician. I am a professional vocalist and pianist and I teach private voice lessons and coaching and perform. I love what I do and I'm very lucky to do it!
Moe: What do you think you offer in a shopping experience that other online shoppes don't?
Diva Taunia: Definitely personal attention. I'm getting to know a lot of the clientele and I keep in touch with everyone. I'm not just a computer-generated email. I check in every day to see if there are any questions and really care about the people who purchase from me.
Moe: Are you plus-size yourself?
Diva Taunia: Yep. I've gotten the Anna-Nicole Smith (pre Trim-Spa, of course) comparison more times that I'd like to admit. Have been my entire life and although I'm losing weight now, I'll likely always be a curvy girl.
Moe: What's your impression of plus-size fashion today?
Diva Taunia: I think it's getting much better and trendier. My biggest complaint is just with sizing. For a long while, they assumed everyone who was plus size was tall and made everything really, really long. Now it seems that everything is going the exact opposite direction: very short. I'm tall 5'8", but most of my height is in my upper torso, so everything looks like a half-shirt on me! I think fitting the various different types of plus figures is still fairly new and will take a bit to even out, but I am definitely happier I can go to stores now and not feel like I'm rummaging through my grandma's closet!
Moe: What is a "trendy diva"? Do you have any tips for readers on how they can look fab and not drab?
Diva Taunia: I think trendy is a relative term. To me, anyone who walks with confidence is beautiful and trendy. The key is really being aware of what flatters your body shape, and really accent your best features. One of the simplest and sexy ways for a plus size gal to flatter herself is to wear a shaped neckline (square-neck, V-neck, boat neck). For plus size women, it really slims the face and neckline and shows off ALL our best assets: cleavage. Another really easy fix is the bootleg cut jean. These slim the leg and look good on almost everyone.
Also, the tendency for a lot of women is to wear things bigger than they need to be. Finding things that SHAPE you slims you. Don't be afraid to show your body! Celebrate you.
I always wished I could do plus size fashion makeovers. Any takers?? lol
Moe: You mentioned earlier you are a musician. What kind of music do you sing?
Diva Taunia: Well, it depends on the band! Primarily, I'm a jazz singer. I have my own quartet and work with some other Boston-based groups as well. I also sing as part of a 4 person all-vocal band called All About Buford, and we do a mix of jazz, pop, funk and hip hop. I'm also a pianist and trumpet player.
Moe: How long have you been singing?
Diva Taunia: My entire life! But professionally for about 15 years.
Moe: Do you have an album?
Diva Taunia: Yes, I actually have a few. You can find all my recordings on my website.
Moe: Cool. Thanks for taking the time to share a little about Big Diva Fashions and yourself with Large & Lovely readers. We wish you success with Big Diva Fashions and your singing career.
For further information:
Big Diva Fashions
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