RaeShanda Johnson was homeless in 2012 when she came to Louisville. But she encountered some helping hands. And today, she owns a thriving online boutique, All Is Fair in Love and Fashion, which grossed six figures in a recent year.
Dress For Success â€“ a non-profit organization that helps women prepare for job interviews, right down to putting workplace-appropriate suits on their backs â€“ played a huge part in Johnsonâ€™s evolution from homelessness to successful entrepreneur.
Johnson dropped in at Dress For Success as a volunteer. She had nothing herself, but she still wanted to help other women. When the experts at Dress For Success talked to her, they immediately sensed her entrepreneurial potential. What Johnson got from that organization was not a suit for an interview but training that enabled her to launch her own business. And Dress for Success was one of her first customers.
â€œDress for Success bought a lot of clothing from my boutique,â€ she explains.
All Is Fair in Love and Fashion does personal showings and sittings for ladies in Louisville, but Johnsonâ€™s business has been so successful that she is now looking for a storefront to expand her business.
Today, Johnson is not just a successful business owner; sheâ€™s also the winner of the 2014 Miss Louisville Kentucky Plus America title.
â€œI havenâ€™t always been plus, but Iâ€™ve always been confident,â€ she explains.
Recently, Johnson teamed up with a friend, Shavonda Williams, and together they launched a new non-profit organization called Socialite Society, Inc., which will help women with careers and health issues.
To raise money for their organization, Johnson and Williams are putting on a plus-size fashion show, Curves For a Cause. The purpose of the show is twofold: to celebrate women of all sizes and to raise money that will be funneled into job training and other programs to benefit women in Louisville.
Williams herself will model an outfit from her own boutique at the end. The other models in the show are also women who donâ€™t walk the runway in their day jobs.
â€œWeâ€™re celebrating everyday women,â€ Johnson explains, noting that the models in her show are chefs and lawyers.
Part of her inspiration for the show has been comments from her customers. â€œMost women are like, â€˜Hey, we want to see more real models,â€™â€ she says. With Curves For a Cause, â€œweâ€™re celebrating all women.â€
The show will feature a range of different clothing â€“ daywear, evening wear and bridal wear.
Ticket holders for Curves For a Cause are encouraged to bring a womenâ€™s business outfit that will be donated to Dress For Success.
The first-of-its kind fashion show, which will be staged at the Manhattan on Broadway, will spotlight fashions from Target, Old Navy, Mauriceâ€™s, Lane Bryant, Talbotâ€™s, Torrid and other shops. Plus-size models including Mrs. Kentucky 2014 and 2015 and Miss Kentucky 2015 will showcase the fashions on the runway.
There will also be a silent auction and vendors serving food and drink. A highlight of the event will be a dramatic reading of Maya Angelouâ€™s â€œPhenomenal Woman,â€ Johnson says. VT
Curves for a Cause will be held Thursday, July 23 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Manhattan on Broadway, 716 E. Broadway.