This weeks feature goes by the name of Shalonda Ta’Nae. I was honored that she was able to take time from her busy schedule to tell us more about her and what she represents. So let’s get started.
OBWG: Who is Shalonda?
Shalonda: Wow… No one’s ever really asked me that but I guess in a short little way I can say with all of life titles .. I am so much more. I’m funny, I enjoy having fun, I’m simple, I’m respectful, I’m honest, I’m loyal, I am driven, I’m blessed and I am unapologetically me.
OBWG: What made you want to be an influencer?
Shalonda: It was almost 7 years ago I started my blog site just basically going off of like homemade clothes and you know food and things like that. I remember seeing this plus size woman by the name of Chastity also known as Garner style and I was like wow… This woman is amazing like looking at all this girl power she’s given. She’s fashionable and she’s plus size and even though she and I were not wearing the same size, she’s very comfortable with her sense of style. I thought,why can’t that be me?? I’ve always been very traditional, very basic with my clothes so the challenge was at that point was how do I get these clothes to look fashionable. How do I make these things look good and then getting the right caption and the right look, hitting those angles just right to make people watch and take notice. That was were the challenges were, that I didn’t know up front but, I had to face an overcome.
ONWG: When did you realize that all these things were something you wanted to do?
Shalonda: I really can’t remember when it happened. I know it seemed like once I had changed my name from being ‘Lizzie’s Pearls” to “Simply Shalonda” I began taking notice of my brand and who I was and the people around me and the networking groups that I’m a part of. It hit me like this could potentially be a thing. I want to remember the first feature I did, when it came to me like aha moment was when I was contacted by Eleven60 (which is branded by Gospel Singer – Kierra Sherrard) and I realized that I could actually do this. Someone noticed me enough to want me to model their clothes and it was my first branded & paid collaboration.
ONWG: That is awesome! So for someone that is thinking about blogging or starting a channel what is some advice that you could offer them?
Shalonda: The advice I can offer anyone wanting to do anything would be GO FOR IT!!. The biggest thing I think is needed is support but it’s not necessarily a requirement depending on what your need is at that time. If I’m doing a photo shoot or if I’m traveling for an event I need support to ensure that my children are taken care of. If I’m doing a photo shoot I try to involve my children in my photo shoot. My son has taken some pictures my daughter has taken some pictures but if I have a professional photo shoot then I have to make sure that they are also enjoying sometime somewhere. I try not to plan traveling, doing a YouTube video, doing photography and anything else all within the same week or within the same month .I do have to make sure that I balance my time and have good time management skills to make sure everything balances. There’s going to be a time where you’re not always going to hit the mark you’re going to feel like you’re contributing more to your brand than you are to your family. It should never be an overpowering thing whereas like this is consuming your entire life.
OBWG:What has been some of your favorite features and why?
Shalonda: Wow I have so many… I would say if anything one of my favorite features was when I was wearing a green velvet dress and I was walking up the steps but I turned backwards and looked. I loved the way my son captured that look. He was able to capture the backside of the dress he was able to get my face and my expression and I love that look. I would also say I just recently did a photoshoot for lovely wholesale and I had this pink and brown animal printed outfit, that my sister took the photos for me, that was another great feature.
OBWG: Where would you say your sense of style comes from?
Shalonda: Growing up my mom always said this statement: ” Don’t allow your clothes to make you. You make your clothes and that advice was from a term of: you may not have Versace or Fendi or a Prada or Gucci but you may have J.C Penney’s or Lane Bryant or you may even have Value City (you guys remember when Value City used to have clothes) make sure that what you represent is how you look in your clothes. So, if my clothes are too tight, I need to make them bigger. If my clothes are too big I need to make them smaller. If my bra isn’t fitting right or if my undergarment is off she always gave us that type of advice. I would say when it comes to style .. I create my own. But when it comes to the regiment and the respect of style I would say that comes from my mom. When I say I create my own style is because I’m always trying to find (my plus size girls if you’re listening to this its always been my statement) When I was growing up it was like very limited clothing places to get plus size clothes from, with a teenager in mind.. So, I would have to buy women’s clothes and you all know women’s clothes were like your grandmother’s or your mother’s and business professional. Then there was rainbow and Jean Nicole. These stores had a large selection for plus size women to shop. And that was great for a little bit until I ran into another plus size girl that was either at my school or wherever we would have the same clothes on. The style was the same because we grew up in the 80s in the early 90s and so it was more like who wore it better you know. Now that I’m an adult and I make my own money, I would say the style has advanced as far as patterns and cut of clothes. When I say, I create my styles because I’m always looking for something that someone else may have passed over.
OBWG: Who is someone that inspires you?
Shalonda: I would say when it comes to inspiration it’s always my children. They inspire me to be the best version of myself as possible. They are my biggest supporters. As their mother, I have to make sure they are very confident, established, protected, loved, respected, and make sure that they honor their self-worth.
OBWG: What are some of the trends you expect to see this year?
Shalonda: While trends are always a surprise, I’m going to say As far as colors go, Nudes, Browns, Soft Pinks, and Taupes this Spring. They will fiercely show them off with their Jeans, Skirts, and Dresses. I would love to see bolder colors like hues of Blues and Oranges collide. When it comes to prints, I’m a big fan of Stripes and Horizontal lines. I do believe the more Fit and Flare jeans are going to go back. If you know fashion, it always comes back full circle, and I think that the Bell Bottoms or the Flare legs or the Fit and Flare jeans or pants along with the Wide legs will be present in fashion this year. And I think the jewelry is going to be bold. Not so many earth tones but more like statement piece necklaces and earrings and bangles.
OBWG: Well Shalonda, thank you so much for answering some questions for us. For people to stay in touch with you, how can they do that?
Shalonda: People can stay up to date with me by visiting my Instagram page, which is “_simpllyshalonda” also my Facebook page which is Simply Shalonda and I just started a YouTube channel not too long ago called “Simply vlogging with Shalonda.”
I am most active on Instagram. YouTube is something I’m getting used to and hopefully start adding more videos to that because I do want to include my children in those not so much as fashion but just everyday conversations and topics that come up.