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Monif J. Clarke – designer and co-founder of Monif C. Plus Sizes
An Interview with Designer Monif C.
Pasazz.net interviews Monif C, a leading plus size fashion designer with a love for life and style.
We love discovering new talents, new designers and getting to know what inspires the women behind the leading plus size fashion labels. Late last March, Pasazz.net had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Monif J. Clarke, who is the designer and co-founder (together with her mother) of Monif C. Plus Sizes, an exclusive plus size fashion label which is creating a stir in the curvy fashion industry.
Monif C. Plus Sizes offer plus size women the cream of the crop in high fashion style. With colourful designs and cuts that accentuate the full figure body, embracing every curve, Monif has definitely created something plus size women have been longing for years!
In this interview Monif speaks about her childhood, her love for fashion and most of all her love for life. Read on to get to know more about Monif, a leading designer in the plus size clothing industry.
Pasazz: Where are you from and where did you grow up?
Monif: I was born in Brooklyn, NY, the child of Barbadian immigrants. I spent half of my life in Brooklyn, NY (until 13), but now my home base is Piscataway, NJ.
Pasazz: Were you a big child, or did you gain weight later in life? How did you feel growing up as a large child?
Monif: I was a big child starting at about 10 years old. It was definitely a challenge, particularly because I grew up in a family that made an issue of weight and appearance. The funny thing was even though my family (extended and immediate) made comments about my “bigness (height and weight)”, they would be insulted or taken aback if they offered me food and I didn’t eat it. It was very conflicting growing up.
Pasazz: Did you find it a hard to gain acceptance being a plus size woman?
Monif: It was a journey for me to accept my size. I never felt like I didn’t have a “good” life because I was big. I was popular in school, I was captain of the track team (shot-put), I never had a hard time attracting the opposite sex or having close female friends. On the outside, everything was fine. I had to get to the point though where I didn’t beat myself up for putting on weight or think that my life began because I lost those 30 pounds. You are who you are regardless of what you weigh. Nobody was brought on this earth to kick themselves in the butt and mentally torture themselves just because they are not “model-skinny”.
Pasazz: Do you find acceptance among your family and friends?
Monif: For the most part, I think my immediate family is over it, but I still get comments like “if you lose some weight, you would be this or be that”, from people that think they are helping me. Many times it comes in a joking manner and I think it is because they know I can take it. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me anymore, I joke along with them. One day my sister said to me, “it doesn’t bother you?” and I said no, because I accept myself. If I didn’t accept myself, it would be a problem and it would be like I had wounded skin and anytime someone brushed against me, I would hurt. The reality of the situation though is it doesn’t bother me, and frankly I have made a great business because I am overweight and can relate to other plus size women. I am proud of that!
Pasazz: How did an interest in fashion arise… and when did you first start designing and making clothes?
Monif: I have always been interested in fashion. Even though I was the biggest girl out of my friends, from an early age, all of my friends were envious over what I wore, which was amazing since the selection I had to choose from was limited. Fashion is one of those things that is etched in my bones. I don’t know why I get it, I just do. I made the decision about 2 years ago to pursue Monif C. as a viable clothing line and started developing the Fall/Winter 2005 collection from then.
Pasazz: When was Monif C. Plus Sizes founded and how did the company’s conception come about?
Monif: Monif C. Plus Sizes was founded in 2004. Believe it or not, I have a business background. I have a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Rutgers University. After a few years working in “corporate America”, I was unfulfilled with that I was doing. My mother, who is my partner, also was feeling the same way, she was in the education field. One day, we both decided to quit our jobs and start developing this clothing line. It was amazing because neither of us had any formal fashion training. We just knew we loved fabric, fashion, style, etc. For many years, we both would get our clothes custom made by a tailor, basically buying fabrics, putting together a design, and having it made. We realized that essentially this is the fashion industry and decided to give it a try. And here we are!
Pasazz: What is the company’s mission?
Monif: Monif C. designs contemporary designer clothing for the plus size fashionista. Monif C. was conceived to reaffirm every woman’s desire for an inspired life, luxury, and unadulterated sex appeal.
Pasazz: What do you feel gives you the greatest satisfaction working in the plus size fashion industry?
Monif: My greatest satisfaction really is when I get hundreds of emails a month telling me thank you for designing these clothes and how great they make our women feel. Recently our line was featured on BET’s “Rip the Runway” and the response was explosive. As a result, women have been emailing me from all over the world. One woman from Martinique told me she cried and cried when she saw the beautiful plus size women on stage showing her you can be sexy at any size.
Pasazz: What are your favorite styles and fabrics?
Monif: I love our rayon jersey because it feels like you are wearing your pajamas. Many women think that stretchy fabrics are cheap, but typically the fabrics you find in the stores that are stretchy are polyester. Polyester is cheap no matter how you slice it. Our jersey fabric is rayon and it molds to your body and feels so soft and comfortable. Our signature piece, the “Nelli” Ruched Dress is made out of rayon jersey and is named after me (my middle name is Janelle) so naturally, I love it. My other current favorite is the “Rosalind” Dress in Pink.
Pasazz: What would you say inspires you most in your work and life?
Monif: Life is an inspiration, as corny as it may sound. Most recently an important person in my life passed on and I realized that the only inspiration we should need in life is knowing that tomorrow is not promised. If you have a dream or a yearning to do something, no matter how big or small, you should go for it knowing that if it is meant to be, it will work out perfectly.
Pasazz: What do you think about the fashion industry for big sized clothing?
Monif: I think there are some great companies out there making plus size clothing, but Monif C. is really the first to bring high fashion style to the plus size industry so that the masses can enjoy it.
Pasazz: Which are your favorite clothes shops?
Monif: Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Zappos.com, Monifc.com
Pasazz: What do you wish to see change with the fashion industry?
Monif: I want the fashion industry to fully embrace full figured fashion as a viable fashion concentration. Plus size is seen as something that is on the fringe of the industry. With over half of Americans wearing a size 14 and up, mainstream designers should be designing for us with smaller sizes being the “specialty” market rather than the other way around.
Pasazz: Is there a person in your life that makes you keep going?
Monif: My mother truly is my inspiration. She is the kick in the butt I need when things get tough.
Pasazz: What plus size celebrity do you look up to and admire?
Monif: I have a lot of respect for Queen Latifah. She has taken her career and multiplied it many times over. She is truly an inspiration to us to know that no matter what our ambitions are, we can strive for them and be successful.
Pasazz: Describe yourself with one word.
Pasazz.net would like to thank Monif for being kind enough to hold this exclusive interview. To view the latest designs and styles offered at Monif C. Plus Sizes we encourage you to visit the web store at http://www.monifc.com/.
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