Afros, Community and Acceptance at CurlFest 2019

Photos and article by Jovanna Reyes


“The only natural beauty festival in the world that was created by five Black women for Black women.” ~Simone Mair, co-founder of the Curly Girl Collective and CurlFest

Glistening, pride, power, natural, love. The only words needed to describe the scene at Randall’s Island in NY this past weekend. The throngs of natural hair beauties, at least 100,000, covered the green grass of Icahn Stadium for the sixth annual CurlFest 2019. The music throbbed non stop, as you heard inspirational words at the Empowerment Stage.

Hair, skincare and drink sponsors offered free braiding, entertainment and products to all the attendees. The early birds left with Creme of Nature gift bags filled to the brim and didn’t mind waiting on the long lines for product.

Mack Wilds, Yandy Smith-Harris, Tiffany M. Battle, Jacque Reid were just a few of the celebrities and influencers to grace the CurlFest Empowerment Stage.

The encore to Saturday’s festivities was the RollerFest, sponsored by Target at the LeFrak Skating Rink at Prospect Park. The venue decorated with every primary color in existence and a ball pit, showcased a throw back skate party with Top DJs on stage and in the rink.

There were smiles and laughter at every turn. A successful event indeed! Visit for information on their next event in Atlanta this fall.

#curlfest2019 #curlfest #curvygirlcollective

Photos and article by Jovanna Reyes

CURVYSTA Emerging Artist:Tamika Patton from the Stellar Awards


Gospel artist and Philly native, Tamika Patton performed at the Stellar Independent Artist and Quartet Showcase and mesmerized the audience.  Her rich, full bodied voice moved everyone as she sang her new single “Lord Fill Me Up”.  The winner of Radio One’s ‘Best Inspirational Singer in America 2011’ contest, Ms. Patton has traveled the world sharing her God given talent and spreading the word through her ministry. Her talents can be seen on stages as an actress as well, performing as Mahalia Jackson with Loretta Devine and Don B. Welch productions.  She’s also shared the stage with gospel greats CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and many more.tamikapatton1




Here is a snippet of video of her performance at the Stellar Awards event.

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Walk This Way with Jeannie Ferguson

Plus model extraordinaire, Jeannie Ferguson, hosted her respected, Walk This Way workshop in DC this weekend.  The always effervescent and lovingly spirited model, is known for her amazing and one of a kind walk.  She’s opened the runways of fashion productions nationally.  The show cannot start without Ms. Ferguson taking the first step on the catwalk.  Her experience as a fit model, print model, her unforgettable walk and her  personality are what keep her workshops booked, up and down the Eastern corridor.  This weekend her workshop focused on runway walks and how to become a consistently booked model.  Her honest feedback will help those that are ready to take the next step to professional modeling.   If you are in the North Carolina area, catch Ms. Ferguson at The Power Plus Weekend March 23-25th and at the Stories of Empowerment Brunch in NYC on March 31st.  Follow Jeannie Ferguson on Instagram @plusmodjeannief and shop her designs at @shop_bgu









Eloquii announces permanent store in Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, VA

ARTICLE AND PHOTOS BY: JOVANNA REYES  @jovannareyesphotography

Earlier this year, Eloquii, the go to online retailer for sophisticated Curvy shoppers, opened a Pop-Up shop in Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, VA.  Last night at a private event for bloggers and supporters of the brand, Alexandra Amarotico, Social Media Manager for Eloquii, and Dani Axelrod, Director of Store Operations, announced Eloquii is placing permanent roots and moving into a larger space two doors down.  Eloquii chose to open their first brick and mortar location in DC over New York City or Columbus, Ohio due to the strong sales in Washington. Pink champagne and Georgetown cupcakes were served to attendees, along with a gift bag filled with Eloquii goodies.

The permanent location in Pentagon City is opening early August 2017.  The Pop-Up will remain open while construction of the new store is underway.  The group of influencers were escorted to the new location and Ms. Axelrod described what Eloquii customers can expect.  “Our new location will have more space for product, a larger fitting room area with champagne fridges.  It will be really special”.  She had me at “champagne”!


From left to right:  Ati Williams of, blogger, Yolanda Nicole of @yolandanicolea, Dani Sauter of @blondeinthedistrict, Dionna Humphrey of @mademepretty, Tiffany of @policyandfashion, Yaya of @yosoyyayar, Joy of @districtqueens, Catherine of @dreamyrealist_, Yasmine of @darkerberrie


Alexandra Amarotico and Dani Axelrod of Eloquii
Alexandra Amarotico, Social Media Manager and Dani Axelrod, Director of Store Operations

Dionne Humphries of and Dani Sauter of




FYI…Tory Burch and video director, Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, appropriates from Black music without using Black models

FYI…Another marketing campaign created without forethought and inclusivity.  Why Tory? Why?  We love Tory Burch for her adorable TB flats, she even has them in size 12, and her quality ready to wear collections but her Spring 2017 campaign video, directed by Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, was offensive and lacked diversity.

Click on this link to view the video: Instagram @theshelahmarie Tory Burch video post.

Tory Burch apologized via twitter but then removed the apology, along with the video.

My question is why are we not asking the video director, Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, what she was thinking when creating and editing the video? Was she not aware that using the line from the song ‘nappy hair’ and then having an all white cast of models singing it would be even remotely offensive?

By using the monkey purse as an unusual object in the scene, she created a focal point in the video with the aforementioned purse. The monkey purse stands out and demands attention. That’s video 101, you knew what you were doing with its placement. Her use of the song bite from “Juju on that beat” that refers to ‘nappy hair’, a negative term for African American hair texture, sung by three Caucasian women becomes even more offensive.  It was cringe-worthy.

Here are my questions to, Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert, the video director:

  1.  Why did you not use a person of color in your video? There was obviously room in the shot for a third person.  Which leads me to the next question…
  2. Why a monkey purse?  As a professional creative director and videographer, mood boards are used and 99% of everything in a video is purposeful, why the monkey purse, if you were using an Afrocentric song?  Did you not realize that a monkey reference is offensive to the Black community?  Click on this link for you to understand why: Huffington Post: Comparing Black People to Monkeys
  3. Why haven’t you apologized for your creative choices that were in a national campaign?  If you’re objective was to make a “fun” video and you were told that you offended someone with your choice, should you not apologize?

You may ask why am I taking this further after the video was removed by Tory Burch. Ms. Burch and her company acknowledged their mistake, apologized and removed the video.  Meanwhile the creative behind the video and person responsible for the final cut, hasn’t acknowledged her offense.  Why is that important?  She is the creative director for several magazines.  An influencer in advertising and magazine editorials, as an Italian fashion editor and creative director to international luxury brands, her opinions and creativity feed the funnel of fashion content.  Her past videos for Tory Burch have over 10 million views.  She needs to apologize to a faction of people she markets to.  If she doesn’t acknowledge the offense to us, who will? Who really does?

That’s my FYI…

Here are more links on the same topic:

Please feel free to give your opinion in the comments below.  Offensive comments will be deleted and reported.  We are all here to learn from each other.

Jovanna Reyes


Eloquii Shop is open for business!


Eloquii, the brand known for its great selection of Plus clothing for women sizes 14-28, opened its first Brick and Mortar/Test Shop(they don’t want to call it just another pop-up) at the Fashion Centre in Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia.The location is on the second level next to Macy’s.  Why DC?  Mariah Chase, CEO of Eloquii stated “DC is our number-two market,” Chase says.When we found a great space at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, it was more a question of ‘Why not DC?’” as told to  of the Washingtonian.

“Our customers have been asking us for a physical location since we relaunched Eloquii nearly three years ago,” chief executive officer Mariah Chase said to WWD. “We’re excited to test what our business’ offline experience will mean to our customers at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. D.C. is one of our best markets and we hope to become a worthy component of our D.C. customers’ offline lives, understand their omnichannel behavior as well as generate many new long-term Eloquii community members.”The store is offering iPads for digital signage and styling tips.”

eloqui2The event hosted by Ms. Chase and Creative director, Jodi Arnold was a tremendous success with tasty cocktails, appetizers(by Gina Cherservani of Buffalo and Bergen), gift bags and amazing guests.  The shop had bloggers from all over the U.S. including top fashionistas from the DC area(make sure to follow them on the links below!).  The faves of the evening? Anything denim, of course!  Their bird embroidered denim jacket will live on through many seasons and their cotton ruffled blue and white striped dress was a hit amongst the bloggers.  Click here to see it on Dionna Humphries of MadeMePretty and posted below.


DANI SAUTER, BLONDEINTHEDISTRICT.COM wearing Eloquii’s Off the shoulder Midi Dress eloqui5eloqui26


#WomanCrushWednesday with April Shari



Curvysta’s #WomanCrushWednesday is April Shari from the Tristate area.  April Shari is a Plus model, photographer, mother, wife and social worker.  A Bicoastal Management model, April can be seen on the runways of PNO, Ashley Stewart and more.  Presently pursuing her Masters degree, she never stops learning to enrich her mind, body and soul.  As a social worker, April dedicates her work to helping those in need of assistance and in crisis. Veterans with post traumatic stress disorders are closest to her heart, as a former veteran herself.  She is the example of beauty on the inside and out. #WomanCrushWednesdays 

“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a Woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Follow April Shari @AprilShari on Instagram  Bicoastal Model Management 

Photos: Ivory Jackson @lucivoryphotography  MUA: Alfena Williams @Aw_Mua



#ModelFocus: Andre Belue at the International Fuller Woman Festival

Our #ModelFocus is Andre Belue, who participated at The Focus Forum during the International Fuller Woman Festival this past weekend.  Mr. Belue is an actor and Plus male model based in Detroit.  Being my first male model ever, was a little tricky, as my instinct is to allow models to look softer and more feminine, not strong and manly.

A true gentleman and a pleasure to photograph!



Visit the International Fuller Woman Festival for more information on any future events.  Don’t miss next year’s Focus Forum!

For more of my photos visit and please follow Curvysta @:




Our Parisian influenced background was the Hotel St. Regis(@hotelstregis), with its french inspired facade and wrought iron details.