Don’t be the smartest one in the room! — Oh I love this one and it’s taken me awhile to realize how important this is. I was always afraid to level up with my business circles because I felt that I couldn’t hold my own in their sandbox. But honestly I was doing myself a disservice by playing small and staying the smartest person in the room. When you allow yourself to feel challenged and uneasy this is when you blossom the most because you are pushed to be better AND you see how that better looks. You wouldn’t have seen it if you were the best in the room. So important!
As a part of my series about social media stars who are using their platform to make a significant social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shafonne Myers, a certified wedding and event planner, and plus size self love motivator, who longed for bridal inspiration that looked like her. She created, Pretty Pear Bride, the world’s only website dedicated exclusively to plus size brides. For over 8 years she has made it her mission to ensure that ALL plus size brides feel pretty on their wedding and get the planning help they need to eliminate overwhelm and frustration so they can plan the wedding of their dreams.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a plus size bride myself, I was constantly looking for inspiration that looked like me but could never find it. I could imagine how I would look but I didn’t think that I would ever look like what I was seeing because none of them looked like me. So I decided to create it!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
Being recognized! I find it so interesting that people actually recognize me and know who I am. I honestly am just doing my own thing making sure that plus size brides and plus size women see representation of themselves. I was at a bridal show and I had several plus size brides-to-be recognize me and tell me personally how much my work and what I do has helped them and meant so much to them. In that moment I KNEW that what I was doing was needed and exactly where I needed to be.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
LOL! This is a good one because in the beginning I felt like there were so many. So when I first created Pretty Pear Bride, I was toying around with the name and trying to figure out what could represent plus size without saying plus size. And I started thinking about symbolism and I came up with “pear” because of it’s shape and it has curves. But when I originally created my information somehow words got crossed and the domain name ended up being “prettypairbride”, not “prettypearbride”. Yeah total disaster! I of course was able to get it fixed but I now know that I need to double check, triple check, heck even quadruple check for errors.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?
I created a media outlet as a way for plus size brides to see themselves in bridal imagery. In an industry where so much is focused on looking a certain way on your big day, I have created a movement where plus size brides feel inspired, encouraged and supported so they feel and look amazing on their big day. I’ve even noticed that we have plus size women joining us throughout their journey from not even being engaged and just looking for love to staying around after they are married and sharing advice with their fellow plus size brides.
Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?
Honestly it’s so hard to just narrow it down to one. It would be such an injustice, because I’ve had such a huge impact on so many. Here’s one that I remember as really taking me aback by this comment.
“Hi!! I just wanted to thank you. I found your Instagram earlier this year when I was planning my wedding. I thought I’d wear something simple because every wedding dress I tried on just didn’t work for me. Then when I found your Instagram I thought “I deserve to look amazing” and I found the perfect dress! So thank you so much for inspiring plus sized brides follower.”
Was there a tipping point the made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?
For me, the tipping point was realizing that even after I got married there still wasn’t anything created for plus size bridal imagery. We were all forced to imagine how we would look in our dress and it took away from the wedding planning process, tremendously. No one wants to have to do that, plus size brides deserve to have that same “Say yes to the dress” moment but unfortunately we don’t get that. So once again I decide to create it since no one else was!
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Yes, so many things they can do!
1. Just recognize and acknowledge that there is a problem. The fact that so many people don’t even realize that there is a problem, that plus size brides don’t have bridal inspiration that is all their own is disheartening and so surprising. Because if you think to yourself “Yes I don’t see plus size brides in bridal imagery” but you know we exist. Then, we, the plus size brides, are definitely thinking the same thing!
2. Make a conscious effort to help. So often, once people realize that, “Yes there is a problem” they don’t know what to do next. The main thing is, “Just do something”. Just the fact that you are doing something to help plus size brides, is so huge!
3. Know that plus size brides and women do spend money. We have money to spend. We just need a viable and appealing product to purchase. Build it for us and we will come. I am always being told that we, plus size brides and women, want great clothing options and have money to buy it but can’t find anything that is stylish and made for us. And the made for them is important. You can’t just go up in size in apparel and hope that it will fit the same. NO, you have actually construct apparel in larger sizes that is made for a larger frame in all areas of the construction.
What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?
You have to listen to your audience to get them on board. If you listen to them and give them exactly what they are looking for, they will be your biggest fans and cheerleaders. This is so important because so often when we are marketing, people don’t get it, it’s not a build it and they will come mentality. It’s a build it, foster it, nurture it, and they will come one by one, until you have created a movement that is it’s own marketing tool. This has been something that I’ve had to learn and honestly it has taken me a while to truly understand and accept but now that I have, it’s nowhere but up for me and this movement.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1.Stop thinking about it just do — It took me so long to research and THINK about starting PPB. I could have been in the game so much earlier if I would have just stopped thinking and do it.
2. Don’t listen to the naysayers! — People will always try to stand in your way because they don’t want you to do better than them. I had this happen to me on so many instances. I would tell people about my idea, to create a space for plus size brides, and I would have people tell me that plus size brides don’t really want to be seen. That they just want to be on all the big bridal blogs, that don’t accept plus size bridal imagery, and not a specific blog dedicated just for us. I was baffled because I didn’t realize why people would want to be rejected from the bigger blogs and not want to be featured on my blog. Then I realized that it was all about where they were on their journey. They hadn’t accepted that they were plus size and needed to come to terms with that before they could be featured on a wedding blog glorifying this. If I would have stopped when I heard this, PPB wouldn’t be as big as it!
3. Don’t be the smartest one in the room! — Oh I love this one and it’s taken me awhile to realize how important this is. I was always afraid to level up with my business circles because I felt that I couldn’t hold my own in their sandbox. But honestly I was doing myself a disservice by playing small and staying the smartest person in the room. When you allow yourself to feel challenged and uneasy this is when you blossom the most because you are pushed to be better AND you see how that better looks. You wouldn’t have seen it if you were the best in the room. So important!
4. Nothing comes easy — Wow, if it was easy everyone would do it. I never really had to tell myself this in the beginning. It wasn’t until I started leveling up my business and wanting to take PPB to the next level that I realized that if it was easy everyone would do it. But once I realized this, I have been able to really embrace this struggle and use that to push me through.
5. You can’t do it all — I’ve run PPB on my own for over 8 years and in my mind I was running how best I felt like I could. But it does come a point where you just can’t do it all. And that time came very recently with PPB. I had a new baby, 2 older kids, a husband and a dog and things were falling apart. And it was because I was trying to do it all. Once I realized what I actually needed to be doing and what I could get my VA to help with, it was a total game changer.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start out exactly how I did, bringing bridal inspiration to plus size women thinking of getting married and plus size brides so that they can see women that look like them in the bridal space. I would then create my wedding planning course specially for plus size brides, that focuses on how to plan their wedding with confidence. Because planning a wedding as a plus size bride is truly the culmination of all the bad things in your head that can and will trip you up. I help plus size brides plan their wedding while combating these!
Then my next phase would be helping the same plus size women move into newlywed life with business mentoring to eliminate business overwhelm if they are starting or creating a business. This would be coupled with life mentoring so they can learn to live their best life, with relationships and communication all while creating a business of their dreams .
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams. The world needs that special gift that only you have.” Marie Forleo. I think for me I have always known what I was meant to do in life; inspire and empower women and even more specifically plus size women. But I haven’t always done that as an outward job, so it’s been hard to know that this was truly what was meant for me. But honestly the more I spent trying to figure out what I was supposed to do, the more I realized that what I was actually doing wasn’t it and thus it led me to believe that yes, what I’ve always dreamt of doing through all these odd jobs, was actually what I was meant to do.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would absolutely love to have lunch with Marie Forleo! I have taken several of her courses and she has taught me so much of what I am today. And honestly most of it isn’t even the business advice that I signed up for. Yeah I learned what she taught me but I actually learned so much more about me and the life I wanted and how my life would look not just how my business would be run. It’s so crazy how we gravitate to people who are like us or who we want to be like. I would love to someday merge my business mentoring knowledge with the life coaching that so many aspiring business women need, especially in the plus size world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@prettypearbride for all social media channels
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!