I was born and brought up in Bombay, India. I lived a fairly conservative and simple existence till life decided to pay me a visit. Life taught me to make waves and not just ride them!
I’ve had my share of the bad but the good has always exceeded it. That’s why I always see a glass half full. I love life. It wasn’t always easy and rosy. Life threw me curve balls and it was up to me how I took them. We are always told that whatever happens is destiny and that we don’t have any control over it. I agree to that broadly, but the fact remains that it’s not about the cards dealt to you but how you deal with your cards!
I was married at an unusually tender age. Emotionally, physically, mentally – from all angles it was an abusive marriage. One day when it got too much for me to handle I came back to my father. I had to leave school during midterm in my sixth grade to get married so after my divorce I tried to complete my SSC. The natural thing then was to go to college. That didn’t appeal much and that’s when I decided to work at my father’s jewellery store and a new chapter of my life began. It was the platform that has made me the woman I am today. My self-esteem and self-confidence started to take shape.
After 18 years in the family business I felt the need to create an independent identity of my own. It wasn’t enough just to be my father’s daughter. I had to see if I had it in me to achieve success professionally. Over time I learnt that communicating is what I do very well so I chose Public Relations as a career. It was tough in the beginning. With just a SSC certificate, getting into a highly ‘educated’ environment was not easy. I had to work twice as hard and twice as much just to prove that I had it in me. And prove it I sure did! Not having three initials (MBA) following my name was never an impediment. I have also been fortunate enough to have worked with people who looked beyond the fact that the three initials associated with my name were SSC and not MBA.
Another major part of my life is that I am a large woman and have never had a problem with it. I’ve always believed that “who” you are on the inside ought to take precedence on “what” you are on the outside. And that’s where my journey as an entrepreneur begins. ‘Extra Elegance’ a plus size clothing line for women, a part of my soul, a part of who I am, is my pride and joy!
Tell us about any current projects
Extra Elegance is where dreams come true for large women as it did for me. When I was jeered and sneered at for wanting those beautiful creations in my size, but denied them because of my size, I knew I was not going to let a stigma control my life. I am very happy and comfortable with my body, curves and all, and needed other large women to feel the same. Extra Elegance was launched in January 2014 with a collection of tunics in silks, cotton, georgettes and chiffon.The sizes available range from 46 to 64!
At Extra Elegance I do not glorify obesity but style for different body shapes and sizes so that a large woman can feel confident with any shape or size that she is. In a society where women are “accepted” by the way they look and applauded for how well they have “maintained” their bodies, what chance does a large woman, or better still a FAT woman have?
The fashion industry caters to a beauty standard that may be ideal to many, but excludes the average Indian woman who is “large”, “plump”, “khaate peete ghar se” or, as Extra Elegance defines it, Unapologetically Large! The truth is that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes! And we all want great clothes!
My garments suit the figure needs of plus size women. I ensure that each style allows for free and easy movement, that necklines are flattering and not too wide, that buttons are placed such that when the woman sits the front does not gape open to show gaps or pull apart, making the large woman self-conscious of her posture. Detailing like collars, embroidery, etc. is scaled to suit the plus size customer’s proportions. Being a “plus size-size” instantly polarises people. Some think the tag is offensive while others are proud of the distinction. I fall into the latter category. This sense of self-respect gave birth to a brand that is dedicated to large women, promoted by a large one herself!
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I would definitely be doing something in communications. People fascinate me.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Life. Whatever the situation I was in at any point in life, it has inevitably taught me something. Either it strengthened my resolve or shaped it.
What does the future hold for you?
That I am now as old as I am and have a sense of self-respect and self-worth, and confidence, is fantastic! So instead of beating myself up for being fat, or slot myself in trivial pigeonholes society creates, I think it’s a miracle that I laugh every day and walk through my life with pride and my head held high.
Extra Elegance is who I am – unapologetically large with oodles of charisma and a sensual disposition.
Extra Elegance by Yamini Zaveri is showcased at:
F2/4, Trident Hotel, Shopping Centre, 2nd Flr.
Also sold from Amazon India: