Melissa DiMercurio is a rockstar when it comes to empowering local women. She is a creative force that recently launched a project called Curves Ahead which celebrates and empowers plus-sized women. She fosters a community of positivity and Sass Magazine caught up with her to learn more about this endeavor.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a former New Yorker, hot blooded Sicilian, cat mom, Zumba fanatic, condo owner and plus size fashionista.
I’ve had a successful decade of working in public relations and my career has taken me from D.C. to Manhattan and back again. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some incredible teams and client accounts in a variety of industries and I continue to climb the ladder in the corporate world every day.
While my job has always been a big part of my story, I realized it was time for me to really take stock of my life and make sure that I was pursuing my passions as well as practicing a little self care and self love. So I made it a priority to travel more, spend time with loved ones and do more things on my bucket list.
However, there was still something missing and I guess you can say I’m still uncovering it!
What led you to start Curves Ahead?
I’ve always been a very creative person and wanted to find an outlet for that. I wanted something separate from my PR work life. The answer came in the form of a blog and a personal website. But the problem I kept finding was, “What the hell am I going to talk about.” I knew I needed a “niche.”
The rest came from sheer dumb luck and following the road that was just appearing in front of me.
I went for coffee with my friends Stephanie and Breia, owners of SR Photo Studio in Boonsboro, MD. We talked about their business and I was really inspired by their mission to make all women, all ages, all sizes, feel beautiful. I told them that I was starting a website but was really struggling with what to talk about and we began brainstorming. We also began bitching about the plus size community and how there wasn’t anything in our local area supporting us and when was it going to make waves in our own backyard? Especially when it came to fashion – a year ago the clothing options were still very limited.
One thing led to another and I started jotting down ideas with them to launch “Curves Ahead, a community that empowers local women through curated activations both online and onsite.” Things began unfolding from there and a plan for this community started to slowly form over the next year.
We did a model call for plus size women in the area to get their portraits done because we needed content for the website. Those 7 women we worked with became our friends and were super passionate about our mission and really supported the idea from day one. I asked them to be our brand ambassadors to help get the word out locally about what we were trying to do. And they showed up big time. They’ve come to all our events and continue to help spread the word on their social media accounts. They call me with ideas. Anything I need or dream, they keep asking “How can we help?” A very big shout out to them: Terri, Pam, Nicole, Brittany, Mia, Elizabeth and Jamie. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
What’s next for Curves Ahead?
We recently had our launch party at the Inn at Boonsboro and SR Studio. We are continuing to cultivate this community in Maryland that we have deemed the “Curves Ahead Tribe.” One of our goals is to provide them with really unique opportunities to feel empowered and connect with other women in their area. We are also looking for partnership/collaboration opportunities with brands and small businesses. We want to throw customized events and create more online content. Essentially we want to keep serving the community with whatever they want and need and we are really listening to these 500+ women. We will be launching a media kit with more information on how businesses can get involved soon. Our website is www.curvesaheadtribe.com
How are you using your story to inspire others?
I am just being myself and sharing my truth every day in any form or way that feels right to me. If people are inspired by my story then its a major bonus and I’m honored by that. But let me tell you, its been scary. I was petrified to post videos and pictures of myself at first. But the ladies of SR Studio took beautiful photos to help get me started and it really fueled my confidence. Just last month I posted a picture of myself in a bikini on the beach during my trip to San Diego with zero touch ups. I never thought that I’d have the courage to do that. This project has really pushed me out of my comfort zone.
What’s been the biggest motivator for you when things get hard?
The community of women that have rallied around us is my biggest motivator. They’ve been so patient while we continue to figure this whole thing out. I still have a 9-5 job and the girls of SR Studio are running their business. Everything we do for Curves Ahead is in our free time — which is very challenging.
I never want to let anyone down, so when things get hard, I jump on our closed Facebook group “Curves Ahead Tribe” and talk to our community. They lift me up. They’ve been a gift I would never have expected.
What three words best describe you right now?
Curious – I want to try everything. In my personal life and in my professional life. I’m curious about the path ahead for every aspect of my life which keeps things exciting.
Hopeful – We are in crazy times, I don’t think anyone
can deny that. But looking at the #MeToo movement and all the women that are fighting for women’s equality and rights, is keeping me hopeful for the future.
Passionate – When I get excited or say I am going to do something, I’m all in and it can sometimes consume me. I am incredibly passionate about Curves Ahead and want to see what could happen next.
If you had a megaphone and could speak to every woman out there, what would you say to them?
Have your own back! You are your own best friend!
Want to know when things began to change? The minute I really started practicing self love and correcting my bad habits. (For example, stopping my negative internal dialogue or hating my body). I still have slip ups and bad days but a major mindset has shifted for me and I can feel it. I want every woman to feel that and have tools to fight the bad days.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?
I never know how to answer this question! I truly surprise myself with each passing year and accomplishment. I see myself even more settled in who I am and what I want for my life.
What are your favorite ways to celebrate yourself?
Margaritas, dance parties and the company of great friends!
And just paying attention to what I need in that moment. Celebrating yourself doesn’t have to be elaborate. I just try to be guided by what’s going to make my curvy girl heart happy.
Learn more about Melissa and Curves Ahead at www.CurvesAheadTribe.com.