PINELLAS PARK – Born to be different, struggled to fit in, Priscilla Johnson paved her own path to success by building confidence in others.
Johnson struggled with her weight her entire life, tipping the scales at 450 pounds at 19 years old. She fell into a life of depression, heartache and abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, drug and alcohol.
After finding her salvation she became a nurse for 10 years, yet she was never given the respect she deserved because of the size of her hips.
“I remember going to Dress for Success and they couldn’t help me because they didn’t carry my size.”
Johnson’s workplace abuse continued not due to just her weight, but because of her appearance as she was unable to find professional clothing in her size and she didn’t have the money to buy fabric to make her own.
“Even though I experienced abuse, I never forgot how I felt sitting there in the interview and even on the job, looking a mess,” she said.
Johnson started talking to women about changing their hair and how certain outfits would accentuate their curves better. Sometimes she even bought outfits for other women just because.
“I promised that if I ever had a store I wanted to have pieces for all women, so they can always look and feel their best,” said Johnson.
Her life and her sanity were saved by her love of fashion and her desire to help others.
In May of this year Johnson opened Lushik Couture, a store designed for plus size women. Her store specializes in professional, classy and customized clothing for women who are otherwise overlooked in the fashion industry.
Johnson provides an environment for women to shop and feel relaxed.
“[Some] women are so happy that I have a store that caters to plus sized women,” said Johnson. “It’s a place they can go to and not be discriminated against. They feel comfortable due to me also being an overweight person, so it’s relatable. And plus I know what our complaints are, I have pieces that will be true to size and can’t be seen through.”
Johnson stocks the store with sizes from 14 to 10X, with prices ranging from $10 on up.
Lushik Couture is currently the only store in Florida to offer Kiyonna brand clothing, a clothing line aimed at providing sophisticated style to plus sized women.
Along with the Kiyonna brand, Johnson has customized skirts and shoes for her customers.
Johnson has been manipulating clothing since she was a child watching the Oscars, “dressing myself up was something that made me feel like a woman, a human,” said Johnson. “When no one was around I would wear my clothing and act as if I were a model. It was more therapeutic for me to create, to sing and to write.”
Currently summer items are still available, with several conservative pieces. Plans for revamping her store are in the works where she will offer more custom pieces in the near future.
Store hours are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m. Friday from noon to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 11-5:30 p.m. The store is closed on Thursdays and Sundays, but you can call for an appointment after hours.
Lushik Couture is located at 4291 73rd Ave, N, Pinellas Park. For more information, please call 727-914-3493.