‘Love yourself from the inside out’
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: TOCCARA JONES
BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD
Supermodel. Actress. Black Entertainment Television personality. All of those titles appear on Toccara Jones’ résumé, and now the Dayton, Ohio native is adding fashion mogul to the list.
The onetime “America’s Next Model” contestant — who has won wide notice for hosting “The Black Carpet” on BET, appearing in the movie “Think Like a Man” and stints on television shows like “Girlfriends,” “Are We There Yet?” and “Celebrity Fit Club” — is set to release Toccara Jones Intimate Apparel. She spoke to Las Vegas Black Image Magazine about her latest career move.
Tell us about Toccara Jones Intimate Apparel.
It is an intimate apparel line — but we are first releasing the bra piece of the line, which is very dear to my heart. I designed the bra myself, for big-breasted women. Not necessarily for plus-size women, but we certainly invite all women who have big breasts to try our bras. I am very passionate about the entire line, but particularly the bras. As a young girl I grew up in a little town, Dayton, Ohio and there was only JCPenney, Sears and some other specialty stores where I could purchase a bra. It was always an agonizing challenge to go bra shopping. Many of the stores didn’t carry D cup or double-D bra sizes, and the bra straps and material were horrible. Imagine me as a young girl, trying out for cheerleading in school, and the basketball team, without the accessibility of a good bra that could give me the support I needed. So having the opportunity to design a bra for ladies with big breasts is dear to my heart. It wasn’t until I was 21 years of age that I bought a good supportive bra that fit. It was like a feeling you can’t explain.
So, you were hands-on with the design of the bras in your clothing line?
I designed the bras in my line myself. I did everything with regard to the design, and I can tell you about every piece of the bra. I can tell you about the inches, the wire size, the material and wide back for the back fat — yes, everything. The bras have a razor back, because so often a particular garment can’t be worn because of the straps showing. So, certain garments a woman wants to wear are restricted to the [effectiveness] of her bra and undergarment. My bras have wonderful adjustable straps, with one strap in the front so you can get the lift you want. I am a naturally busty woman, so I wanted to design a bra that could naturally fit busty girls. Many women don’t need all the foam and push-ups. Many women’s breasts are naturally sitting up, and big breasts don’t need extra padding. My bra line has extra material for support, and we make sure the bra wire is at the center of the chest. A woman’s breasts should be separated in the bra, not pushed together and touching.
Are there other unique features in your bra designs?
Well, I love that we accommodate women with an opportunity to attach their Spanx or undergirdle to their bra. Many women experience their Spanx or girdle rolling down, and you have to keep pulling it up toward your bra. Our bras will offer clippings to attach your Spanx, so that you can stop them from rolling down.
Will your bras and other items in your intimate apparel line be affordable?
Yes, certainly. They will be in Walmart stores in May, and I am so excited about this journey in my life.
You were recently featured on the cover of Italian Vogue. How will you balance your modeling career and your clothing business?
My goal has always been to be an entrepreneur and to have my own brand. So often, as models, you wear other designer brands — and now I want to introduce the industry to mine. When I am working and showing someone else’s brand, I want to send them back to see my brand. It is important to create my own brand and lifestyle. The goal has always been to have my own.
So, you will continue on with your acting and modeling career while you are building and promoting Toccara Jones Intimate Apparel?
Yes. In this industry you can’t just do one thing at a time. I am fortunate to be in a place where I can dabble in all of these things.
Do you think the fashion industry is changing its views on plus- size women?
I think it is slowly changing, but we still have a long way to go. We all know as Americans, and people in general, that the average size of a woman is 12 to 14. It is slowly going mainstream to recognize that now.
What words of encouragement would you like to share with black women on celebrating their bodies?
I always say that you have to start in a place of loving yourself. Start with the inside, and learn how to take care of yourself. Try to do things like eat right, exercise and take up a hobby that you will enjoy. Beauty is from the inside. It’s not an image thing. Start doing things from your heart. Love yourself from the inside out.