Empress Tia Lofton
BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The dazzling fashion creations of Empress Tia Lofton from her Majestic Plus Boutique and her original couture designs are always received with thunderous applause from the audience as her plus-sized models strut their stuff on the runway.
The bold, bright colors and exquisite fabrics have been transformed into styles that range from laid back casual to tailored businesswoman to sophisticated, sexy glamour.
Models range in size from 14W to 40W, and Lofton sees this as an opportunity for both the models and some members of the audience to see clothing that they can feel both chic and sexy in while also promoting self-pride. She feels that it’s her mission to help them develop and maintain a positive self-image.
Lofton grew up in Ocala, and as a child showed an early interest in sewing, always altering one outfit or another. The punishments she received from her grandmother, Mildred Sims, for “messing with her sewing machine” only solidified her interest in the craft.
Her grandmother came home one day unexpectedly and discovered that Lofton had been tinkering with her treasured sewing machine. As a punishment, she took Lofton to a local store and had her pick out fabric that she liked.
Little did young Tia know that her grandmother would be purchasing the entire bolt of fabric, and for the whole summer vacation, she would be stationed at the sewing machine creating all of her outfits that she would wear during the next school term.
Nine-year-old Lofton sewed every day, and at the end of the summer, the punishment resulted in 13 outfits that she wore during her fifth-grade year. She eventually moved with her family to St. Pete and graduated from Dixie Hollins.
After moving back to Ocala, she began her seamstress career at Mark III where she picked up speed and precision sewing armrests and headrests for conversion vans and trucks. From there, Lofton made her way back to St. Pete and worked at Bartex Industries, sewing draperies for commercial businesses and hotels.
Relocating to Winter Springs in Seminole County, she started her first business, Majestic Draperies, which became a successful enterprise with high-profile clients including Shaquille O’Neal, Tiger Woods and Julius Winfield Erving, better known as Dr. J.
However, her six-figure business faltered when the economic downturn impacted her clients, and after suffering two strokes, she moved to Largo where she worked for Avant Air at the St. Pete/Clearwater Airport reupholstering planes and yachts for two years.
Lofton opened Majestic Plus in 2013 when she noticed the lack of stylish plus-sized clothing on the market.
“I wanted to be flashy and sexy, and most of the styles offered were dated and looked like a moo-moo my grandmother would dress in,” laughed Lofton. “A lot of floral prints and elastic waists and the arms would never fit.”
Lofton said the selections were limited and most stores at the time only carried sizes up to 24. When she’d question store personnel as to why such a limited amount of plus-sized clothing, she was always met with the same response: “It’s a corporate decision.”
Instead of waiting for the corporate world to catch-up, she began creating more of her original designs and started receiving positive feedback. Lofton knew then it was time to start her own business.
“Quality, quality, quality,” Lofton said she stresses for all areas of her business. She uses superiority fabric, embellishments and offers items that other people don’t. The Majestic Plus Boutique online store offers her original designs, other vendors’ merchandise and custom design orders.
Pricing ranges from $30 and up with custom designs starting at $250.
Lofton feels that behind the weight, a lot of women have experienced major trauma in their lives and that they are hiding from those issues.
“Some of these women have been mentally, verbally and physically abused, neglected and abandoned,” she stated. “I tell them they’re beautiful, important and valuable. I give them a confidence. I get a rose, and I water and nurture them until they bloom.”
Lofton and her models will take to the stage at the “Harvest is Ripe Outreach Hair & Fashion Show Eleganza at the Catherine A. Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S, Gulfport on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.
“Majestic Drapes is my passion, but Majestic Plus is my assignment, “stated Lofton. “I felt that God called me to take care of his forgotten flock.”
For more information about the Harvest Is Ripe Outreach Hair & Fashion Show Eleganza, please call 727-564-3312.
Empress Tia Lofton can be reached at 727-755-1842 or email@example.com.
Log on to www.MajesticPlus.com to find that perfect outfit.