Archive for New York City

Alison Hamata Says, “Be comfortable in your own skin, love what you have, and work it!”

Posted in Articles, Books, & Magazines, Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Ford +, Inspiration, Models, New York, Unique Beauty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2011 by Liz

Alison Hamata is a plus model from Canada who is signed with Liz Bell in Vancouver, Canada and Ford + in New York.

Tell us how you felt when you signed with Ford NY!

Signing with Ford was an awesome experience. I was definitely a little nervous, but so excited to start this new chapter in my life. When I first walked into their office, I was a little intimidated, but everyone there was so welcoming and enthusiastic so it was definitely a cool experience.

What has your experience been like so far… being a Ford + Model and living in NYC!!!

Being a Ford + Model has been a really great experience. Living in NYC and being a Ford Model has been really cool. I think it has matured me and made me a stronger and more confident person.

How do you define the term ‘plus’ model?  What is the reaction you get when you tell others you are a ‘plus’ model?

Well technically, it’s someone above size 6. But I define it as a healthy, beautiful, and confident girl. The reaction I get is always a positive one. Mainly the reaction I get is that they say we are such great role models, and that makes me proud.

What do your friends think of your modeling career?

I have the best friends; they are all incredibly supportive.

What did your parents say when you told them that you wanted to be a model?

I first got approached when I was 11; actually by Ford NY. Of course, my parents said no way because I was far too young. But later on when I was about 16, I was approached again by Liz Bell Agency, an Agency in Vancouver, and they were much more comfortable with the idea.

What are your goals for your future?

I would love to go to University get a degree as well as play volleyball on the University team, go to cooking school, travel the world, get really good at hockey, learn to play the drums, oh, and world domination.

In your spare time, what do you enjoy doing for fun?

I really love cooking. I watch the Food Network way too much for my own good. I also love playing any type of sports, especially volleyball, soccer, and field hockey. I read a lot and of course hanging out with my friends and boyfriend.

What would be your ideal date?

My ideal date would be doing something spontaneous like going on an adventure or doing something out of the ordinary. However, it should always end with lounging on the couch with popcorn and a movie. I think you can get to know someone best when you take them out of the everyday routine.

What 5 items are in your handbag that you couldn’t live without?

Gum, hand lotion, iPod, a novel, and lip balm.

What’s playing on your iPod?

The new Chromeo album, Miike Snow, The Strokes, The Black Keys, Counting Crows, Cut Copy… too much to name!

How do you stay fit and healthy?

I usually go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. My routine is 40 minutes cardio, 20 minutes strength, and 20 minutes core. As far as eating, I think you can have everything as long as it’s in moderation. I’m a vegetarian too, so I think that helps with being healthy.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as edgy but with feminine accents.

What is your go-to outfit?

Right now my go-to outfit would be my black skinny jeans, my dark grey suede combat boots, white and navy striped t-shirt, my military green style belted anorak, and because it’s freezing out, a scarf and slouchy pompom toque.

Favorite jeans…

I just bought a pair of black Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans from Anthropology and they are crazy soft!! I love them.

Style Icon…
I love Zooey Deschanel’s style. Her outfits always have classic cuts with a 1940’s girly style, but with a cool twist.

Signature Scent…

Mark Jacobs Daisy

How do you define beauty?

Well, my Mom always says “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”. And that’s so true. Beauty to me is not only what’s outside, but mainly what is on the inside. Outer beauty will fade with age, but what you are like as a person will always remain.

What is the best beauty advice you have ever been given?

Be comfortable in your own skin, love what you have, and work it!

Lipstick or Lip gloss?

Lip Gloss. My very favourite is Smith’s Rosebud Salve. It’s not sticky and it makes my lips so soft.

What makes you uniquely beautiful?

I think I am a genuine person, I try to always be kind and caring.

What is one of your fondest childhood memories?

Spaghetti Fridays with my family. Also learning to cook and bake with my Grandma Karen.

What do you miss most about your homeland, Canada?

I miss everything! The mountains, beaches, and all its beauty. My family, friends, and boyfriend of course. Oh, and poutine. Which I’m 98% sure you don’t know what that is. Let me tell you. Fries covered in gravy covered in cheese curds. Yes, genius.

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m obsessed with the TV show The Office. Jim is amazing. I will marry him one day.

What is your philosophy?

Do what makes you happy, treat others as you’d like to be treated, stay true to yourself no matter what, and no regrets.

Thank you, Alison!

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Our Interview with Russian Model Katya Zharkova

Posted in Beauty, Hair, & Make-up, Body Image, Confidence, Designers, Family & Friends, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Inspiration, Media, Models, New York, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Trade Tips, Travel, Unique Beauty, Wilhelmina, Work, Your Story with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by Liz

Katya Zharkova is a plus model from Russia. She was born in a small city called Smolensk, and she grew up in Moscow. Katya started modeling at age fourteen, and still models today at almost thirty years old. She graduated from Moscow University of Art and Culture as a TV producer. She created shows on Russian TV. Her friends advised her to go to a casting call for a TV show in Moscow and she got a second job as a TV presenter. She hosted a show where she helped women love themselves. Before coming to the United States, Katya worked with Russian and European designers. She decided to come to Los Angeles, and signed a contract with Wilhelmina agency and moved to New York. She has worked with Forever 21, Silver Jeans, Pure Energy, Cabi, Avenue, Macys, MC Patterns, Ulla Poken, and Fashion To Figure. Now, she is working on an autobiography – it’s a story about a plus-size model traveling all over the world.

Please tell us how you started your career as a model?

My mom is a photographer. I wasn’t the prettiest newborn, and my grandmother always use to say that I would turn from an ugly duckling into a swan. My mom use to take pictures of me every day thinking that it would help me become prettier. When I was nine, somebody told my mom you have a very cute boy, she decided I should be acting. So, I got the role of a girl who wasn’t very attractive, and every day she sat down in front of the mirror trying to persuade herself she was the most beautiful and charming person in the world. At the end of the movie, she really blossoms into this beautiful thing. That taught me to do the same thing in real life. Later in life, my friend took me to a modeling agency, and the first thing they told me was that they would accept me only if I lost weight and they gave me six months. I tried but didn’t succeed, and in 1997, they opened a plus-size department in her agency. Since then, some of the designers in my town started sewing a plus-size line especially for me. That made me realize I could be on the covers of major magazines and every boy at school who was teasing me about being fat was wrong! At one of the runway shows, I was seen by the editors of Moscow Fashion Magazine and moved to Moscow to work for them and study at the University.

Did you always dream of modeling and why?

My dream started in childhood when I believed in myself and thought I was beautiful, but boys were saying I was fat. I was never skinny, and I liked the fact that I was healthy. I wish there were more people like me on the covers of major magazines–healthy and confident! I want young girls to eat properly without starving themselves just because being skinny is in fashion. I want all the runway models to be size 8-16 and not 0-6. I want plus-size modeling to be popular in fashion all over the world along with the skinny models.

What do you think people would find most surprising about modeling?

There are no real rules in modeling; you never know what will happen tomorrow. You can be very talented with a great portfolio and a great body, but there are millions of beautiful and talented people. You have to be very lucky to get the job. It’s the way things happen. Modeling is a very tough job and you have to be at the right time at the right place.

Did modeling come naturally to you?

I think I blossomed thanks to my beautiful photos that say a lot! I want people to realize that you can be beautiful no matter what size you are. It’s very important to love yourself the way you are!

What did you study while attending Moscow State University?

At the University of Art and Culture, I studied acting, filmmaking, and producing. I use to work and study at the same time, but my mom was always strict with me regarding my education. If I wouldn’t get a degree, she wouldn’t let me go to the United States, so it’s thanks to my mom that I successfully graduated with a degree in Organization of Student Festivals, and wrote a thesis called “Education of young people through TV media”. As I was an experienced model by that time, I was able to work as a host of one of the shows and viewers were happy to see a healthy and beautiful woman. I think the fact that I was plus size made me unique and it also helped me believe that one day I will be on the cover of major fashion magazine.

When you made the decision to move to NYC, what would you say was the biggest culture shock? Did you know how to speak English?

I moved to NY in a rush. I was already living in Los Angeles and working at Wilhelmina. I was enjoying a slow and relaxing way of life–swimming in the ocean and studying English. On the 29th of September, I got an email form Ameerah (she works at Wilhelmina in NYC), and she told me she really liked me and would love to represent me, but that I would have to move to NYC in order to work with her. We discussed it with my LA agent Tricia, and she told me I should definitely go. I already worked with the big labels like Forever 21, Pure Energy, Silver Jeans, and Cabi, so moving to NYC seemed quite logical and it was kind of the next step in my career. So, I rented a car and drove all the way to New York, thinking I must be crazy but that I was reaching my dream. I had a funny incident on the way to New York. I ran out of gas in Philadelphia, so I left the car and had to walk two miles to the nearest gas station. Right after I walked out of the car, I saw a police officer looking at me with a smile and asking me what has happened and if he could help; that was like a scene from a movie. That was a real shocker! He drove me all the way to the gas station and then back leaving with the words, “Welcome to Philadelphia!” All I said was, “I Love you America!”

What do you miss most about your homeland, Russia?

My entire family lives in Russia, and I really miss them. I miss my mom, my niece, my brothers, and my husband. I have a huge family but thanks to Skype, I can see everybody I miss every single day.

What do you love most about living in NYC?

I love the weather in New York; it changes quite fast. Everybody is extremely friendly, and you can say hi to hundreds of people and everybody will react positive.

What would you say is the best advice you have been given, in terms of your career as a model?

Never postpone anything for tomorrow! Love yourself the way you are and people will start loving you. Never give up and all you dreams will come true.

What has been your most memorable modeling experience and why?

So far, the most memorable experience for me was the first shoot abroad–the shoot for the Elena Miro’s magazine. It was shot in Egypt. We were shooting the Spring/Summer collection, and I couldn’t speak English at all. It was a week in a sunny Egypt and my first modeling experience outside of Russia–I was crying from happiness. I realized that my dream came true, and I’m on the cover!

Do you feel plus modeling is helping redefine beauty?

I do believe that plus-size modeling has redefined all the usual beauty standards. It’s very important to live in harmony, be yourself, and do what you love the most. You have to be confident and that’s the only reason I’m here in America right now. I don’t want my kids to ever experience what I went through. Every time I go shopping in Moscow, it’s impossible for me to find anything in my size, especially if it’s something trendy and fashionable. Size 8 is usually the biggest size they carry. My husband and I, once tried to purchase jeans in my size and the shop assistant offered me a men’s model. Of course, we laughed and didn’t take it seriously, but can you imagine how many young girls went through the same issue, thinking, “I’m so big that there are no jeans for me”. And that kills your confidence, society and media creates insecurity for people who are bigger than size 8. That’s how young girls become depressed. I’m strong, but even I had issues trying to find myself and it wasn’t easy.

Have you ever suffered from body image issues? If so, what advice would you give to young girls and women who are currently struggling?

We worry about the way we look because we are trying to find love. We want to be liked. Unfortunately, the reflection in the mirror won’t help you find happiness. If you have a strong personality, and if you can laugh and enjoy yourself, people will accept you the way you are. Also, you might think that skinny and beautiful women are happy, that’s not always true. I know so many examples that contradict that. I know so many beautiful Russian celebrities who are miserable in their life! When I ask my husband how he fell in love with me, being so big and not perfect, he doesn’t even understand what I’m talking about. I’m the most perfect person in the whole world for him and the only thing that he remembers when he first met me was my laugh. I truly love to smile. So my advice is the more you laugh the better.

What do you wish you would have known in high school?

My dream from my childhood finally came true, and I see all the boys from school grow up. I see what kind of girls they like now and they realize I’m not fat at all anymore. I would love to have known that in school. Though, I did believe that being slightly bigger than others would help me in life.

Where you ever teased or bullied?

I was teased at school; they used to call me a train and I never understood that. Can I be that huge?

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Would love to be at the Oscars with one in my hands

What is your dream job as a model?

The cover of US Vogue–impossible sometimes can be possible.

On a day off, what would your perfect day consist of?

If I was able to meet up with my friends and enjoy the weekend in a great mood – that means it was a perfect day! Also, I love dancing – it’s always fun!

What is a fun fact about you?

I’m far from perfect when it comes to speaking English and because of that, many of the things that I say generate much laughter among my friends, many times unintentional. But I’m very sincere and emotional, so everybody understands me.

Is there something you have always wanted to learn or try, but haven’t yet?

I want to learn skydiving; one day I’ll do it!

We love your Silver Jeans shots! Please tell us about your experience modeling for Silver Jeans?

I really loved their concept. It’s basically friends on vacation. It was just like my weekends in real life. Talented people around you–jokes, guitar, dancing, and lots of fun. I grew up with my older brother and he always used to invite friends to our parent’s country house; that was a lot of fun. That’s what I experienced again at the Silver jeans shoot. That was a reminder that my dreams were meant to come true, and I was there despite the fact that I’m size 10-12. I was with three beautiful American boys, three skinny models, and me Katya Zharkova, a plus-size model. What else do you need to become happy? Pair of comfortable jeans and real friends close to you.

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans?

My favorite pair of jeans are waiting for me in LA. I was in such a rush when I was moving to New York that I forgot them at my friend’s place. They are light blue in color and they are vintage in look now. They are completely ripped at the knees; that means they went through a lot and you have to respect that. Hopefully, I will be able to get them back soon.

Where so you love to shop for clothes?

I like really unique things and my taste is very eclectic. Clothes reflect your mood and also remind you of the favorite moments of your past. That’s why I kept a lot of pieces that remind me of certain things in my life. When I shop, I usually look for something special. Something that my girlfriend would never pick–something that will show my unique style and reflect my personality. Shopping in the US is amazing because there is a great variety of things in my size and that lets you experiment and find the new you. And, that makes it so interesting.

Who is your style icon?

I would say Marilyn Monroe is a style icon because of her Hollywood glamour and a breezy sensuality.

What is your go-to outfit?

Black leather jacket, a pair of dark blue jeans, and of course, a pair of high heels. Russian girls love high heels.

What are your must-haves in your make-up bag?

I always have waterproof mascara. You never know what can happen, so you always want your eyelashes to be at their best! Powder, blush, and, the most important thing–pink lipstick.

Where is your favorite place to snowboard?

I think the mountains of Vancouver are the best place to go snowboarding!

What do you love about yourself and why?

I like the fact that I can enjoy life. I can wake up in the morning and say, “Life I love you”. I can walk around the city, enjoying every moment of it

How do you stay healthy and fit?

Every morning, I eat oatmeal; I also do yoga twice a week–that’s my secret to beauty.

What are you excited about right now?

I’m really excited about going to Seattle, and working for Nordstrom’s. I’ve seen Seattle in so many movies; I would love to see it in real life. And, I’m always looking forward to work!

*Thank you, Katya!

The Women Behind Madison Plus

Posted in Designers, Fashion, Fitness & Health, Ford +, Hobbies, Lane Bryant, Media, Models, Music, Plus-Size Modeling, Self-Esteem, Shopping, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2011 by Plus-Size Models Unite

Aimee Cheshire

MadisonPlus.com is the premiere fashion website for the modern plus size woman. Created by Aimee Cheshire and Erica Young, fashion professionals, who were frustrated with the lack of excitement and choice in the plus market. In 2008, Aimee and Erica, who are based in New York City, started brainstorming what is now MadisonPlus.com.

Kari Hansbarger, Aimee Cheshire, and Erica Young  photographed by Myung Choi

How did you and your business partner Erica meet and come together to form Madison Plus?

Erica and I were both students at LIM College in NYC. We would chat in class and that’s when I told her about my internship at Roaman’s, a plus-size catalog, and how much I enjoyed working there. I gave her a brief introduction to the world of plus and all the amazing untapped opportunities. She signed up for an internship soon after. Before we knew it, we were sitting next to each other in the office and working on the same sportswear team. We did not expect to be put on the same team together, and our working relationship grew from there. Very quickly, we were both promoted to managerial positions at a new brand within the company, but we started to grow tired of fighting the system in regards to the lack of cool and exciting plus clothing options. So, we decided to build it ourselves.

Where did the name Madison Plus come from?

Coming up with a name for a business can be a fun challenge. We had baby name books that we found ourselves browsing through to find the “name” for us to run with. We had temporary names that we would sit with for a period of time and practice saying it, to see if we would get sick of it. One day when Erica and I were doing research at the SIBL library on Madison Avenue, we had a light bulb moment and the Madison Plus name was born.

What is the most frequently asked questions you receive from your viewers?

Many women want to be plus models, and that is definitely the number one question that we receive. Unfortunately, not everyone can be a plus model. What I really interpret from the “plus model” question is that they actually want to be in some way involved with the development of the plus-size industry. There are so many ways to bring your view and your expertise to the plus industry and there is so much room to grow.

What has been one of the most unforgettable moments Madison Plus has experienced, one that you will never forget?

We have worked so hard to develop a brand that we can confidently stand behind and feel that fully represents what the plus industry was craving. There are two amazing moments that mean a lot to me and to MP. The first being when we teamed up with Ford+ Models to launch the “All Ashley” issue that broke just before the ‘boobgate’ controversy with Lane Bryant’s commercial, which featured the talented Ashley and allowed everyone to get to know her. Before we knew it, we saw “MadisonPlus.com” up on Entertainment Tonight. To see that type of recognition made all the work worthwhile and helped fuel the fire to continue with what we are doing, which was relaunching Madison Plus.

Before the holidays and after a year of building the brand Erica, Kari (our creative director), and I re-launched the new Madison Plus. We wanted to create a shopping website that was curated by us. We wanted to expand beyond our blog, bring the best of plus clothing to you wrapped up like your favorite fashion magazine. A day after we relaunched, I went to Mexico. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent on the beach, but what I enjoyed most was knowing that the new MP was live.

Plus-Size Models Unite is ultimately about inspiring others to love their own unique self. What do you love about yourself and why?

Perseverance! My whole life I knew that I would be involved in the plus industry, that there was no reason for it to lack the same attention that the straight size industry gets. Growing up plus size and having to experience the common situations that plus girls find themselves. Every summer for many years, I would go to weight loss camp in California and I remember sitting on the steps of the stage with the owner asking her if I could come back when I was older and put on a plus-size fashion show. I had this bug hit me at a young age and it stayed with me though all my experiences of growing up. It was my way of making the struggles worth it. This feeling of perseverance that I always had to push through, knowing that it may be pretty crappy now, but when I make it, it will be worth it. What an amazing reward it has been.

Your site covers everything from fashion to beauty tips to celebrity news–you name it! Please tell us what your favorite beauty products or must-haves are?

I have never been a huge product girl until recently. The flood gates were open when I discovered dry shampoo. Whenever I would read about people washing their hair every other day, I could never grasp how they could do that, well dry shampoo is the answer. I use Rene Futerer Naturia Dray Shampoo, when I use it my hair immediately becomes voluminous and holds whatever styling I need it to. The days I do wash my hair I add some Sam Brocato Beach Spray, and it gives me that texture I crave. I keep an easy routine of Cetaphil to wash my face, Nars moisturizer, and Nars skin brightening serum, which I am addicted to, it just brings my skin to life. Also, I cannot leave my apartment without a spritz of Bond no9 perfume called Nuit De Noho, it’s just part of my personality now. I may freshen it up a little for spring by layering on some Highline another fave from Bond.

I love when the girls stop by and talk about their favorite outfits!!  What are your go-to outfits?

We do too! It’s amazing how much inspiration you can find from the lovely ladies that stop by our office. Each season, I tend to switch up my trendy pieces but I do have some go-to pieces that are season-less. Right now, it is my bondage skirt from Topshop, black ponte sheath dress, and last but not least, my Paige denim skinny jeans.

What is your definition of beauty?

I like pure, non-fussy beauty. I want the real nose, the real boobs, and real bum, which allows for the real you to shine through.

What are you listening to right now?

Music is my escape, and I love being surrounded by amazing bands and live shows in Brooklyn. I try to see a show at least once a month. The bands that have been getting the most play on my ipod have been The Constellations, Gogol Bordello, The Black Keys, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.

Favorite books?

My lovely husband just bought me a Kindle and I have been reading nonstop since I opened it. When you own your own business, sometimes the only way you can relax and unplug is by keeping it occupied with books. If you were shopping my bookshelf I would insist on these books; The Girls, Rush Home Road, Chesapeake, Dominion, The Glass Castle, Cutting For Stone, and A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Favorite places to shop online?

It is a very rare thing to see me actually shop in person. I have been shopping online since the beginning, originally it was due to my size. I was a size 20 and then when you layer on a 35″ inseam, and size 11 shoe your selection becomes limited. So quickly, I was trained to go online for my shopping. Right now, I am shopping The Outnet, Net-A-Porter, JCrew, and Anthropologie. When I go shopping in the city, I love to hit up Topshop and DVF.

What is a fun fact about you?

I am obsessed with card and board games. I am in the process of learning bridge with my husband and some friends. I figure by the time I’m in an old age home, I will be an expert. When my husband and I started dating we would play games for money, and I bought some kitschy piggy banks from Vegas, and whoever had the most amount of money in the end of the year won. I never won, my husband always took home the pot and the winnings were definitely not big enough for a trip back to Vegas.

Favorite restaurant?

I am truly spoiled with amazing restaurants living in NYC and being surrounded by so many delicious restaurants which have lead to a discerning palette.  I love it when you go for a meal and you leave with an experience. The best dining experience is at the Kabob Café in Queens. It seats no more than 12 people and the kitchen is right next to you while you eat. The amazing owner/chef Ali keeps you entertained for hours! When my evening out demands a little more “fancy” you can find me at Junoon, Marlow & Sons and Dresslers. To compliment, I enjoy pairing my meal with a nice cocktaiI or bottle of wine.

What are you excited about right now?

I am so excited for the year ahead, 2010 was so good to me and the MP team. So many personal and professional goals were accomplished. It really gives me so much momentum into this new year. Stay tuned…we have more exciting developments at Madison Plus.

Best,

Aimee Cheshire
Co-Founder & Co-Owner
www.MadisonPlus.com
Your Style Discovered
facebook.com/MadisonPlus
twitter.com/MadisonPlus

Video Link

http://www.vimeo.com/19135791

*Thank you, Aimee!