We still remember the moment Rosie Mercado burst onto our screens in the Nuvo series, ‘Curvy Girls’. The same series that brought the likes of Denise Bidot to our attention. Rosie was the centre of some hard hitting story lines that really showed the divisions between the almost fashion industry accepted idea of plus size and to many what plus size is. When we heard Rosie was heading over to the UK we jumped at the chance to work with her. We’d been en- thralled by her strength of character, her confidence and zest for trying new things and striving for health and body confi- dence as a dynamic duo. A single mum, living in Vegas, following her dream and paving the way for others, Rosie is a mother, business woman, presenter and a model. We decided to embrace Rosie’s passion for fitness and (the fact she sticks at it!) with this gorgeous Sports Luxe fashion, a second coming almost for a woman who is on a mission to change the fashion industry once and for all. Rosie is ready for the industry, but is the industry ready for her?
SLiNK: For us you burst onto the scene whilst we were watching Curvy Girls but there was obviously a Rosie Mercado before that! Give us the lowdown on how you got
into modelling and presenting?
Rosie: The truth is hitting rock bottom, getting divorced, losing it all and the journey of finding myself! It is funny how failure leads you to success if you don’t give up and become a victim. I went through some tough times in my life where I felt lost and without direction. I had to pick up the pieces in my life and start over, embracing my biggest fear – the fear of the unknown. For me, that is the moment when you look forward and don’t know what to do. After starting a new chapter in my life, I found myself at the Miss Plus America Pageant representing Nevada. National Geographic was filming a docu- mentary of which I had the opportunity to be a part of (destiny)!
SLiNK: The show was obviously a great platform, did you enjoy it?
Rosie: I enjoyed doing Curvy Girls but would have done some things differently! It was my first time doing reality TV and I Ioved that I had the opportunity to share and use it as a platform to connect with the audience. I felt honoured to inspire others based on what I was going through at that moment in my life. My life has changed so much since that time. The moment is so beautiful when I meet fans and they show me love on my journey. We are nothing without the people who support our journey! I am grateful for that experience; it taught me so much about myself and about others. It was a great opportunity and learning experience. I loved working with the girls and I learned so much about myself, reality TV and the modelling industry.
SLiNK: What was the best and worst moments?
Rosie: The best moment was improve class in New York City! I had so much fun and learned that I have a passion for acting. I felt like I was in my element – that I was where I was supposed to be. I had fun, laughed and learned and was not camera shy what so ever! It’s one of those moments that changed my life!
The worst moment was shooting outside in the streets of NYC and people just being rude. Not knowing me, one person called me a fat bi*** just because I felt confident enough to model at a much larger size. My confidence made others uncomfortable. What bothered me was not the direct name calling, it was the effect it would have on girls watching and how they would feel! I have thick skin and have learned that that behavior is always a direct reflection of the way people feel about themselves. Being on TV is a huge responsibility and it is a platform that I feel should be used wisely!
SLiNK: After the show ended what happened! You disappeared from our screens…
Rosie: I decided to focus on health and my family. I am a single mother of 3 kids: 15, 9, 7 years old! I am also a business woman and I felt overwhelmed. I just needed time to figure my next step. I got to work with National Geographic None of the Above, Univision, shoot commercials in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and educate myself. A transformational journey was awaiting me – Timing is everything! As I return to my passion of modelling and TV, I am so excited to now be signed with TRUE Model Management in NYC and Hughes Models in the UK, at a size 18! My life has changed in so many ways. I am happy and excited for the future.
SLiNK: Now you have clearly changed your body since we last saw you on our screen. Talk us through your physical transformation – why you did it, what’s changed?
Rosie: I did it for me! I wanted the freedom of movement and choice; the choice to do what I want, when I want and how I want. My weight and size dictated where I could physically fit and activ- ities were limited based on my energy for that day. I was 405 pounds. That’s a lot of weight to carry around and after some time, it catches up to you! We are responsible for our own life and I believe what we attract into our life is based on how we feel. Everything is energy!
SLiNK: What have you learnt about yourself from before you made changes to now?
Rosie: I learned that my weight was holding me back from life experi- ences. I don’t see anything wrong with loving your curves and being a healthy plus size woman, but I do see something wrong when you can’t walk and have a lack a quality life or where you cannot share moments with your family and friends! My weight was holding me back from running, moving freely, enjoying the simple things in life like going to the movies or
a theme park with my kids. I could not keep up with my boys because I was tired. I also feel as a parent, I am responsible to show my kids the importance of taking care of yourself, your health and wellbe- ing. Parents are mirrors to their children. My dad always says, “Monkey see, monkey do”. A quality, healthy, adventurous life is what I want for my kids and I must show them the path and lead by example. In order to serve others, we must serve and take care of ourselves first!
SLiNK: Have you seen a difference in the way the fashion industry responds to you now? Have you had more / better or just different opportunities?
Rosie: Losing weight has been a life changing experience on so many levels, including positive changes to my physical and emotional health as well as a being a catalyst for the course of my career path. I am actually able to book more work. I think it’s amazing that I have more opportunities, different opportunities, international opportunities. That’s so exciting for me to say! What I found is that the industry has really embraced not only my journey, but has showed me so much love and sup- port. I am able to remain true to who I am and share it with the world. We all have a different journey to walk and I choose this one!
SLiNK: Do you have an end goal or an aim?
Rosie: My goal is to be healthy, happy and active. I can’t put a number or a size on it because it is a feeling… a feeling of freedom. I am able to run, dance, play with my kids and finally enjoy amusement park rides with them! Before my transformation, I never understood how much I was missing out in life. When I was heavier and out of shape, I experienced a lot of stress wondering, “Am I going to fit in the chair? Are there elevators? Are there places where I can sit and take breaks?”. I was missing out on sharing quality time and adventures with the ones I love. Life is about creating memories; experiences that excite you and not stress you out. My transformation has given me the freedom to live life; participate in my own life and not just be a spectator!
SLiNK: Which are your favourite brands / where do you like to shop?
Rosie: I love Asos, Topshop, Zara, Simply Be and Evans!
SLiNK: Where do you feel has the most progressive plus size fashion industry?
Rosie: I feel the U.S. has done so many amazing things in plus size fashion and that the UK is opening new trends and doors for new designers and plus models. They each have their own strength!
SLiNK: How does the industry differ between here and US?
Rosie: I am so happy to see that the UK is really developing, transforming and catching up with the United States market! With the introduction of more plus size boutiques and retail stores in the UK, there are many more opportunities to work there now. I look forward to being in London as often as possible because I have fallen in love with the city. And now being part of the Hughes Models UK, I can say with a big smile and excitement that a new journey begins.
SLiNK: Plus Size has been getting a lot of press attention in the media, do you feel there is growing support for the market and how can we progress that?
Rosie: I love that there is so much power behind social media and with that, plus size models and consumers have found the opportunity to unite and voice our opinions. Thus, plus women can create a demand for what we deserve! Unity is key! We must support one another and share, repost and create a continuing conversation on the changes we want to see. Remember that money holds so much power, so support with your dollars those who support you as a plus customer! For example, support the companies that hire models size 14 and above and share the stories of women who inspire you! I love that there is so much power behind social media and with that we have found our voice to unite.
SLiNK: If you could work for any brand who would that be?
Rosie: There’s quite a few… Cover Girl, Simply Be, L’Oréal, Torrid, Evans
SLiNK: What are your must have items in your wardrobe?
Rosie: Black dresses, long and short (day or night) A good pair of skinny jeans…. love Simply Be A crisp white t-shirt and a sexy pair of heels.
SLiNK: What’s your prep schedule for a red carpet like?
Rosie: Prepping for a red carpet is like studying for history exam. You need to have knowledge regarding your subject – who they are, why they are there and their history – before going on and asking questions. A good interview connects, asks great questions, gets great responses and just flows on camera. Being flexible and spontaneous is important because you never know what is going to happen; it’s learning to listen, really listen to what they have to say and being curious. Then, of course the fun stuff: hair, make-up and fashion for the glamour of the red carpet.
SLiNK: Working as a presenter not just a model, do the beauty standards and acceptance differ in the realm of presenting to the realm of modelling?
Rosie: I feel that being a host is based on your connection with your audience. As a host you are responsible for providing a fantas- tic experience to your audience. It is a position of leadership! Your confidence shows as you improvise, carry a conversation on camera and take on the role of the curious person wanting to know more. It is my experience that people can see through you. If you feel nervous, happy or mad, the audience can feel that as well! Hosting is a different world and doesn’t compare to modelling. As a model you create inspiration and sales through images and I find the (modelling) industry is more critical of your size. This is changing but we have a long ways to go!
SLiNK: What are your three top beauty items?
Rosie: La Prairie – Eye Caviar SHOPBELLISIMA.com and Mineral Liquid Foundation Buxom Mascara.
SLiNK: What’s in your handbag right now!
Rosie: Versace sunglasses, SHOPBELLISIMA. com lip stain in red, a Chanel Wallet and Money from London, Paris and Mexico with so many amazing memories attached. Beats by Dre headphones ~ got to get my music on… music junkie here! Book – “Move Your Stuff Change Your Life” and my Iphone 6 plus.
SLiNK: Now you also run an e-commerce store – tell us about it? What inspired you to
Rosie: SHOPBELLISIMA.com means shop beautiful in Spanish. I am Latina and proud of my culture. I love fashion and beauty and wanted to create a business with what I know best. I have always said what amazes me about make-up and fashion is that it transforms every women from business to sexy. It is a reflection of your personality. You can tell so much about a person’s priorities and personality just by taking a look at them and how they present themselves to the world. I love the opportunity to see how a women’s confidence can be transformed just by applying make-up and the right wardrobe; especially if it’s something new to them. I choose what we sell on SHOPBELLISIMA.com and it is important to me that I inspire the women who follow me. It is also important to provide items that look amazing at a great price. We want women to showcase their own style with their own unique beauty. At the end of the day, I want to make sure my business reflects my values. Success leaves clues! In order to be successful, it is important to be connected to your audience and really listen to their needs and wants. The biggest need is inspiration and that is what I want to give as well as fun pieces that you can wear every day to put your best self forward!
SLiNK: What is the greatest piece of advice you ever received and who was it from?
Rosie: My dad and my manager Alexandra Boos from TRUE Model Management. My Dad is a wise and patient man whose words are so simple and real. He always reminds me that what is for you will happen at the right time. God’s timing. My manager Alexandra Boos from TRUE Model Management always tells me the importance of authenticity. She has been so honest on my journey and her words resonate…be patient – your time is coming. Keep working, and connecting the dots. Be clear on who you are and never settling for anything less than what you deserve because it’s in the discovery that you attract those amazing opportunities into your life. Only accept opportunities in life that reflect your values because the moment you get away from your values, danger is ahead!
SLiNK: If you could pass on one piece of advice,what would it be…
Rosie: I have learned that sometimes in life you want something so badly that you end up pushing that opportunity away out of desperation. Breathe, everything in life hap- pens with purpose, for a lesson, to prepare you for your destiny. Always know that everything you want to create will happen but know its all about timing and prepa- ration. It’s important to enjoy the journey to the destination and not give up when you get a “NO” or feel rejected. It takes lots of failures to learn how to create long lasting success. Find yourself and what you represent and always be authentic. That will always be your best “you”. Be curious and don’t forget to seek and you shall find – ask and you shall receive. Perseverance and discipline are important values to live by and so is a humble heart.
Originally published in issue 17 of SLiNK magazine