Introducing Erica Collins
Before Plus Models became a buzz word and popular, there was a little girl who stood much bigger than her peers at 5' 6" at the age of 9 years old. The only African American in most of her classes in Cherry Hill, NJ, she was born being different.
Being teased, one day she decided "well they are staring at me anyway...I'll give them something to look at" (smiling).
This was the year her mother let her pick out her own clothes. Erica created the Beyoncé styles before there was Beyoncé and trends you see today emerging from the 80's and 90's. Erica made being big and different popular.
The big election
By the time she entered junior high school, she persuaded those who teased her to become part of her presidential campaign. After watching court shows as a child, Erica was fascinated by law and justice thinking she wanted to become a lawyer. She won the most historic presidential campaign at her junior high school by a landslide with a powerful speech defining who she was and what she would do for the school.
What many don't know is that minutes before she was to speak in front of hundreds of students to compete for the election, three upper class popular girls came by to taunt her and encourage the blonde haired boy next to her who they thought would win.
Although the words were somewhat distorted by her memory, it was something along the lines of you "dress so weird", no one will vote for a "big black girl".
In that moment, her friend Nick the former president and one of the most popular guys in the school witnessed the teasing and said three words that reset the negative to positive in her mind. Approaching the microphone, Erica took a deep breath looked out at the hundreds of students and began:
"What is an Erica Collins? And, What can she do for me? Regardless of what you heard or your mental picture of me forget it because none of you know me well enough to judge. Let me tell you what I feel I represent and you can tell me if you want this school to represent these characteristics."
Girls and minority kids in school cried, hugging and congratulating Erica's win as the first female, first African American and first African American female president of the school. The girls and guys that use to tease her suddenly saw her as one of the coolest girls in school. Even one of her presidential competitors said, After that speech, I even voted for you!"
Exhausted, excited and elated, Erica went home flipped on the television and there was Oprah Winfrey a full figured, big, black woman that would redefine how Erica saw her goals and purpose in life. Oprah represented the power of positive influence fighting stereotypes and making positive changes impacting our society through television. This image combined with Erica's broadcast teacher's encouragement started her journey in television.
Ironically, the journey of television would present similar obstacles much like those moments just before she stepped up to the microphone to win the presidential election in junior high school. Those moments would increase with intensity as life's challenges tested her.
Erica achieved becoming a plus model for major department stores from Macy's, Bloomingdales to Fashion to Figure amongst others in major cities such as from Washington, D.C. to New York City. At a time when there weren't many African American women in plus modeling or media, Erica managed to work for MSNBC, Fox News Channel, HBO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Broadcast Studios and U. S. Senate and House Radio/TV Press galleries.
Now, Erica has become an advocate of mind, body image and spirit for children, women and men with her new children's book Eric and Ruby's Healthy Juice Stand available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Her journey in the specialty food industry lead to writing the book and inspired her new organization Queendom and Kingdom Transformation Foundation Inc.
A motivational and inspirational speaker, Erica Collins with grace, style and courage empowers women to be the CEO of their lives, to get healthy and monitor their wellness on their journey to success.
Unbuttoned with Erica Collins
Style icon: Jayne Mansfield and Beyoncé
Favorite heroine: My Mother and Oprah
Dream lunch date: Jay-Z a brilliant businessman from poverty to prosperity
Favorite cliché: "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever will be, will be)
Personal motto: "Flip the Script!"
Idea that changed your life: In a model competition in college, the choreographer said "You are the only Diva in here who know how to walk"
Always trying to improve: My health and wellbeing
Most envious of: Envy and Jealousy are not high characteristics of mine
Most inspired by: Challenges
Fashion item you would ban: Irritating fabrics especially used for stockings/pantyhose
Favorite piece in your wardrobe: The Perfect Black Dress outlining my curves and the leopard accents classically enhancing my shape
Biggest extravagance: The Experience
Can’t bare to spend on: Things that won't change
Irrational fear of: After taking care of my grandmother before she died, illness without someone by your side to keep watch of your needs when you can't express them
Brains or beauty: Both
Audrey or Katharine Hepburn: Audrey
Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Lawrence: Jennifer Lopez
Diamonds or pearls: Diamonds