by MIKE CHAIKEN
Personal experience drove fashion designers Margarita Ortiz and Chelsie Gray to launch ChelRita Designs, a brand intended to empower women with the clothes they wear.
“We make them feel sexy and beautiful (with our clothes),” Gray said.
Both women have experience with being diminished by the world because of their physique.
“(Ortiz) and I have had our fair share of feeling self-doubt about ourselves,” said Gray.
“(Ortiz) is a model,” said Gray, “she’s been modeling since she was 12. She knows going into the modeling area if you’re not a size two it’s extremely hard to get a gig.”
“I grew up having been body-shamed… making me think I had to look like the Victoria’s Secret models, ” said Gray.
“I actually ended up getting an eating disorder because of that,” said Gray.
As she grew older, Gray said she realized she didn’t have to look like a size zero model. She also decided no woman should feel like they should conform to someone else’s opinions on beauty.
They can be who they are, said Gray, because every woman has beauty.
“We’ve had plus-sized models and petite sized models with areas of their body that they felt very self-conscious about,” said Gray. “When they put on some of our clothing, they actually fall in love with that area that they thought they had trouble with.”
ChelRita tries to make feel empowered by providing clothes that will be comfortable and will be attractive for any size woman.
“I know when you get plus size clothing they’re very baggy. They’re not form-fitted,” said Gray. “Plus-sized models and plus-sized women look much-better in fitted clothes that fit correctly.”
Ortiz and Gray became friends 15 years ago. With their backgrounds in fashion Ortiz is a model and Gray went to high school for fashion they eventually decided to team up for New London, Conn.-based ChelRita.
“Our ultimate goal is to be international as well as local and be extremely popular so we can make women feel like they don’t have to hide their body anymore,” said Gray.
“They are beautiful how they are.”
For more information, visit ChelRita.com or ChelRita’s Facebook page.
Model Yasmine Forte wears ChelRita Designs in downtown New London, Conn.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN