“I come from a family of survivors, who have all endured and overcome hardships in their own lives. I was built on survival, and I am grateful that I was given the necessary tools on what is it to have a survivor’s mentality,” LaToya Heyward
We are so excited to have you as our October Cover model! Tell everyone who you are about your SheThoro brand?
I’m a mother, a lover of God, and someone who loves to laugh. LOL! More so, I’m a self-proclaimed writer, media correspondent, content contributor and “Transformation Queen”. Reared in Queens, NY, I’ve always been obsessed with fashion, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing tips and connecting people from all different walks of life. With a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and a master’s degree in Human Resources, I have always enjoyed being a positive influence in other people’s life and making them feel good.
After graduating with my Masters, it was difficult trying to find a job in HR without experience. This had a significant impact on me, especially since helping people was something I genuinely enjoyed doing. In 2013, I decided to take matters in my own hands and take the education that I had learned in college and apply it to a business of my own. Yep, I decided to HIRE MYSELF. I remembered Kanye West saying in his song with Jay-Z ‘Made In America’ that he started a blog to get traffic, so I did just that! I have always enjoyed taking pictures, so I started a blog called SheThoro. The name derived from Thoroughbred, a name that was giving to me when I pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, INC in undergrad. Being a plus size girl, people always inquired about my outfits, and where they could find certain wardrobe from. In April 2016, I decided to finally start a blog and incorporate my love for fashion and photography and put it out there for people to refer to. A year later, I started interviewing public figures, celebrities, and hosting red carpets for people from all walks of life. In February 2018, I was selected to cover the red carpet at the 2018 Stellar Awards in Las Vegas. With no degree in Journalism, this was huge for me! I took my best friend Chris with me. I wanted to share this moment with him, because he was someone who had impacted my life in a major way around that time (he probably doesn’t even know this). Later that month, I had no idea I would discover my true purpose. It changed me and the integrity of my brand to what you see today.
October is our POWER issue, the power of being a survivor! Define what being a survivor means to you in your own words?
A survivor to me, is someone who has either lived through a tragic situation that others were not able to overcome, or someone who copes well with the daily struggles of life, whatever that may be. A survivor can be someone who has simply made it through a difficult or stressful day at work/school (that’s most of us). Think about the people who have had challenging days, came home, and decided they no longer wanted to live because the thought of going through that “struggle” again seemed impossible. At that point, giving up was what they resulted. I feel we don’t give ourselves enough credit and/or realize that if we’re ALIVE; we are all SURVIVORS in a sense.
Do you have any survivors in your family? If so, how did you help them overcome?
I come from a family of survivors, who have all endured and overcome hardships in their own lives. I was built on survival, and I am grateful that I was given the necessary tools on what is it to have a survivor’s mentality. I love examples so bear with me. LOL! My older sisters are some real survivors. They’ve overcome so much pain and taught me how to be strong and to never allow others to take advantage of me. My parents are some true survivors. My dad started driving a school bus at the age of 13 and worked until he was 74 years old. My mom picked tobacco as a young girl just to have money for school and survived being a single mother before she met my father. They both survived raising kids in New York and everything that comes along with parenthood. They both came from humble beginnings and no matter the struggles they faced, they never gave up. As black men growing up in the gritty streets of NY, my brothers Nasim and Rodney both survived and are now successful men in the banking industry. My maternal grandmother raised 7 children, worked on the military base, slaughtered pigs, raised chickens, cooked, clean, served her community and still managed to make her family her top priority. She lived to see 94 years of life and was laid to rest in 2020 right before covid shut the world down.
One of the strongest people I had a direct impact on and had to watch survive was my daughter Caliyah. At 4 years old, she suffered third degree burns to her face from a grease fire (https://youtu.be/a2ld7ixYfjg). She was in an induced coma for a month, as I watched her fight for her life. She was left with third degree burns to her face. To be honest, she helps me overcome my struggles. Although I reaffirm that the true essence of beauty comes from within with her daily, she lives it. Sometimes adults can be so vain and freak out over the smallest things. Caliyah doesn’t let little things bother her. I continue to instill the importance of self-love and having confidence. Therapy and working with other survivors have been very rewarding for the both of us. God, prayer, our family, discipline, and helping others has and will forever be the foundation of our POWER!
What can we do more as an industry to advocate more for survivors?
Sharing their stories and doing anything that can shed light to them in a positive way is how the industry can advocate more for survivors. That’s one thing I love about the site, “Humans of NY.” They use their platform to share stories of everyday people. Through these unique stories, it conveys to others that “you are not alone.” Like I said before, we’re all humans who go or have gone through similar situations. We are all SURVIVORS!
Being an influencer and in the public eye you have a responsibility to help empower others. What do you do to empower other women?
I have a responsibility to live out my purpose. Anytime you’re walking in your TRUE purpose, it usually empowers others and helps with healing. I found my purpose in February 2018, after a mother contacted me after finding a video in her daughter’s phone of her acting out her own suicide. I was devastated! She had been following my blog and wanted suggestions on things she could do to boost her daughter’s confidence. Taking pictures and doing photoshoots was something that allowed me to channel my creative side, so I immediately suggested doing one for her. I wanted this photoshoot to be unique, so I added special elements to it and decided to name it a “SheThoro Transformation” (also known as the SheThoro Experience).
A “SheThoro Transformation” is a one stop shop where we start by focusing on internal healing, education, awareness of personal strength, appreciation for life, and openness to new possibilities. This is done by having an in-depth conversation to uncover past hurt, needs, aspirations and goals. Our team of professionals consist of a licensed cosmetologist, makeup artist, fashion consultant, and photographer. We take pride in educating each client on hair and specific products that are most suitable for their specific hair type. Our licensed makeup artist gives tips on not only ways for maintaining healthy skin, but products to use. Our wardrobe stylist and image consultant offer an array of clothes that not only matches their specific body type, but personality. Each transformation ends with a customized photoshoot; leaving clients with photos that not only tell their story, but remind them of their experience, and something tangible to hand down for generations.
What are your views or thoughts about the current state of the entertainment/media industry?
The entertainment/media industry is forever evolving and just like anything, there’s the good and you have the bad. I feel as an adult, it’s up to you to decipher what part you want to consume. However, I believe it’s important that we consider our mental capacity and choose wisely. We live in an era now where anyone can contribute to media through apps such as, Tik Tok, Instagram, and Facebook. Anyone can make a video or share a photo that can potentially go viral. It’s great if it’s a video promoting positivity. It’s scary when it’s not so positive. What do you do then?
As a mother, I had to become more vigilant on what is being consumed daily. It’s so much out there these days and we are privy to so much information. While connecting with people, staying abreast to what’s happening in other parts of the world, marketing our businesses, and sharing and consuming stories has its perks, it’s necessary to take a break sometimes to focus on our own mental state. Balance is key! Too much of anything is no good.
What is one thing you can begin to do daily to show the world that women with kurves are beautiful?
Staying committed to my purpose, being honest, and just being a kind human. I feel if I continue to use my platform to showcase “true beauty” and share survival stories of others and how they’ve overcome; this will empower others to see true beauty in themselves.
What is the one thing you would tell a young girl looking in the mirror who is having a hard time loving her kurves?
Continue working towards being the best version of themselves and constantly seek knowledge. Focus less on unrealistic goals and measuring up to the expectations of others; rather figure out what makes them happy. Lastly, if there’s something she feels she’s lacking or want to change; set goals and do what’s required to yield the results! The only way to prevail is by DOING THE WORK!
What do you want your legacy to be?
Some people view legacy as leaving an inheritance or something related solely to financial wealth. The legacy that I want to leave coincide with my life mission which is to connect, transform, and inspire. I not only want to provide generational wealth for my family, but I want to leave behind a sense of purpose and family history that can be passed down from generation to generation. Tools such as books, stories, and a business for people to refer to when they’ve forgotten or still searching for their true purpose. I just want to be someone who truly made a difference in the lives of others and simply remembered as someone who cared!
What is next for you?
So many things. So please, stay tuned!
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