Celebrating International Women’s Day with Suzanne Ujaque
PLUS Model Magazine is celebrating International Women’s Day with one of our favorite influencers, Suzanne Ujaque.
Suzanne saw the need for plus size fashion to be elevated in Puerto Rico and has helped to create a momentum that has been on an incline since she started.
Her influence spans across all media outlets and all you have to do is turn on your television or pick up a newspaper and I’m sure you will see one of many inspiring pieces she has written or been featured in.
As the creator of the SU-styleXpo she has created a place where fashion is celebrated and #lamodanotienesize.
You truly have brought PLUS SIZE fashion to a new level and have helped to build the community in Puerto Rico. What brought you to the decision that this needed to be done on the island?
As a professional communicator and a lifelong fashion lover, the issue of being able to promote fashion for plus-sized women like me was in my mind for many years; I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I wanted to do something.
It was not until 2011 that I decided that I was going to undertake something big in fashion for the plus-size woman, although I did not know what. In 2012, I attended a plus-size event at London Fashion Week, and there I decided that once I returned to Puerto Rico, I would get it rolling.
But I understood that on my island there was still a lot of education needed for peer-to-peer acceptance in regard to the projection of fashion for everyone. Beyond doing events, we had to educate women to love and accept themselves, to get rid of all stigmas, realize that they can look good at any size and not do it in hiding. I decided that I had all the tools to give my community a voice and that my experience designing accessories and as a communications professional could compliment my effort. And that’s where SU-styleXpo.com #lamodanotienesize took off in 2013.
You are on television and numerous media outlets spreading your message, “La Moda No Tiene Size”. Is society in Puerto Rico changing and embracing plus size fashion?
I am very happy because the work we have been doing is paying off. Our mission has been clear from day one: to strengthen the image of plus-size fashion in Puerto Rico and Latin America and help women strengthen their self-esteem through the project.
Today I can say that after seven years, we have inspired the opening of over 20 boutiques, affected larger local advertising campaigns to include plus-size models and even influenced music videos by celebrities such as Bad Bunny and Residente; they have hired plus-size models whom they found through our activities. It gives me great satisfaction that we are changing stereotypes and we are helping to strengthen and grow an entire industry.
What’s your personal confidence journey?
My confidence was instilled into me by my mother at an early age. She taught me that there was no limit on my dreams. To never fear anything. And even as I felt some insecurity, she took me to the seamstresses to have them dress me as I wanted, which helped my self-esteem tremendously.
What is the purpose of The SuStyle Expo and what can people expect when they attend?
My purpose with SU-styleXpo is to empower women, to understand that they can be, feel and look good at any size. The idea was to turn our blog SU-styleXpo.com and everything that was happening in social networks to a live meeting of all our followers, as well as plus women and their families. The event is a day for having fun, learning, sharing and being entertained. During the day we present a lot of fashion, beauty, self-esteem discourse, health, entertainment, nutrition, and exercises. We also have the participation of some local and international celebrities.
Let’s talk FASHION! You love fashion… and anyone that follows your social media can see how much you celebrate all fashion. Where was the fashion in Puerto Rico, where is it now and where do you see it going?
I love fashion yes, it is something that has been running through my blood since I was born, LOL.
When I began my project and had a weekly spot on television, plus size fashion in Puerto Rico was not spoken about much, there were no major events, nor was it given a large media exposure like the one we have created. This requires education and high-quality efforts that match any regular fashion effort.
My intention is to continue strengthening the industry because there is a long way to go. I can honestly say that we are in diapers compared to where I understand we should be.
You live a very busy lifestyle and we have spoken about balancing life. What are your tips for balancing career, family, and self-care?
My advice is that to maintain balance in your life it is imperative to be ORGANIZED, to keep an agenda, to understand that first, you must take care of yourself in order to make others also be well. Our time is not negotiable.
Take care of yourself in all aspects. In matters of beauty our bodies require sleep, always stay hydrated, always maintain a positive energy because unexpected situations come up, and what makes the difference is how prepared we are to face these situations. Focus daily on your mission, your path. Your biggest competitor should be yourself.
We each have the engine to push us to do great things if we have the drive.