Plus size apparel made up 19% of all U.S. women’s clothing in 2021, according to the NPD Group. But the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education says otherwise, reporting the average American woman wears between a size 16 to 18.
Finding affordable, flattering clothes in larger sizes can be challenging. Juicy Body Goddess, located in Charlotte’s Northlake Mall, addresses that by offering an array of plus-size fashions and accessories.
Summer Lucille is the founder and owner. She says that the store’s name is a combination of a childhood nickname and a reference to her plus-size figure.
“They used to call me Juicy Lucy,” she said. “I had ‘body’ because I just knew I wanted to put something in there to reference to plus-size bodies. And then Goddess happened after, maybe like a year after, because it was just Juicy Body for a while.”
When customers walk into her store, they’re welcomed by her iconic greeting: “Juicy Body Goddess, where you gotta be two-something to do something.”
Lucille has been working in the fashion industry since 2011 and started Juicy Body Goddess because she wanted her store to reflect who she was as a plus-size woman.
“I used to just sell, like, accessories, hair products, hair wigs, extensions and fashion. The fashion was just small through large. It was never plus size,” she said. “So 2016, I was just like, ‘What am I doing? Like, I can’t even fit the stuff that I sell.'”
Juicy Body Goddess offers sizes 10-32, or XL-6X. “Plus size” is vaguely defined as being larger than “standard” sizes. But what’s considered “standard” differs culturally, across industries, brands and even by personal opinion.
Lucille said that her store is for everyone and anyone can relate to her content and positive messages. Her business experienced exponential growth about two years ago when she went viral on TikTok filming customer interactions and consultations.
“I think everybody that follows me can connect in some way to my content. And it’s just not fat girls that follow me,” she said. “I have a big LGBTQ+ community that follows me. I have skinny girls that follow me. I have all types of people.”
Lucille currently has 1.4 million followers on TikTok and said that the platform drives the majority of her business these days. In addition, she has thousands of followers on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. People come from all over the world to see her. Donna Roberson traveled over 900 miles from Kansas City, Missouri, for a formal dress consultation.
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Juicy Body Goddess carries sizes 10-32, or XL-6X.
Layna Hong / WFAE
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In addition to clothing, Lucille’s boutique also offers accessories, like jewelry and hats.
Layna Hong / WFAE
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Lucille sets up shop Saturday morning after a busy Friday. She says that weekends are the busiest, as that’s when most people traveling from out-of-town visit her boutique.
Layna Hong / WFAE
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Juicy Body Goddess offers an array of fashions, from business formal to clubbing.
Layna Hong / WFAE
Deana Woods, Roberson’s daughter who lives in Charlotte, is getting married and wanted to bring her mother here for the best experience possible.
“I found her on Twitter and I thought she was absolutely amazing, the confidence that she instills in women, especially plus-size women,” Woods said. “It’s very hard for them to find things that they’re comfortable wearing that fits them, shops that carry certain sizes and especially in formalwear.”
Roberson and Woods said that there’s nothing like this back home in Kansas City.
“A lot of times I’m looking online for my size, so it’s great to actually be able to go in a physical store and for the sizes to go up like that because, you know, even when you say plus-size, some stores are going to stop at [sizes] 20 or 22 and it’s just hard to find clothes,” Roberson said.
Lucille is honored by the lengths people go to just to see her.
“I just be so honored. I be so honored. Like you traveled that far to go see ‘ol fat me. That is amazing. Thank you,” she said. “You did that for me and that’s why when they walk in the store, I want to give them unmatched experience because you drove to see me. You got on a plane. You did so much just to see me.”
TikTok also led Lucille to expand her business to include a younger demographic: teenagers. Some of her most popular videos are her consultations with teenage customers looking for a prom dress.
This year, Lucille was able to give away several dresses for free — thanks to her followers. Money started pouring in after she posted a video of her giving away an evening gown, That post now has 2.5 million likes.
“So coming in, you know, they expecting they’re going to pay an arm-and-a-leg and then — boom, they get a dress free,” she said. “It’s just the best feeling in the world.”
Lucille said that it doesn’t hurt to feel good about yourself and everyone deserves a boost of confidence. The internet agrees. Her social media pages are flooded with positive comments and compliments from followers and customers featured in her videos.
“I just want everyone to understand that fat people aren’t lazy. That fat people can be happy. And I want fat people to be happy,” she said. “Wear what you want right now. Don’t wait. You know tomorrow’s not promised, so be happy in your skin.”
Looking forward, Lucille hopes to grow her business by opening more locations around the country and getting her original products into commercial stores like Target and Belk.