Cool Girls with Tag: fashion

Leah Stanley

Name: Leah Stanley
Age: 30
Location: Upstate New York
Occupation: Social Media Specialist

Leah Stanley is a small-town girl from Vermont who has conquered the Internet with her message of self-love and fierce fashion. As a child, she was taunted for being “fat,” but took the body-shaming bullies to task by maturing into a gorgeous, bubbly, contagiously confident influencer for people of all shapes and sizes.

“I knew that growing up I didn’t really have any role models like myself to look up to,” she says. “I didn’t really know that much about plus-size fashion and where to find it, or that fashion rules don’t exist! A larger space means a louder and bigger voice, creating a bigger impact. I really just want to reach as many people as I can. I love being able to spread a positive message.”

Back in 2014, a friend mentioned to her that she might have fun on Instagram. Although it took her two years to start her personal blogging and photographic adventure, she remembers how it began.

“She was always on Insta, and mentioned something about how I would most likely also enjoy the app,” Leah recalls. “I eventually created a personal Insta, which I loved. My friend was totally right. It was through my personal Insta, years later, that I had discovered a plus-size fashionista, and I said to myself, ‘Hey, that could be me.’ Shortly after I started up @Voluptuousleah and here we are!”

With her fashion advice and inspiration, she quickly found an audience.

“I started just by starting my Instagram and sharing my daily outfits. It’s always helpful to see another person’s outfits on the daily, to see how they style pieces differently than you or I,” she says.

One of the seminal moments occurred during winter storm Stella in 2017, when Leah boldly flaunted a bikini…in a blizzard. With her tenacious, visually stunning, and often hilarious posts, Leah blended beauty and brains with a keen knack for what to wear, regardless of size. That’s not to say that she didn’t encounter online trolls, or perplexed family members who didn’t understand what the point was of an online presence. That said, nothing is stopping her.

Leah continues to challenge herself to step outside of her style comfort zone, and to dream big. One day she hopes to possibly design Voluptuousleah swimwear, or simply to manage social media for a business. “That’s currently part of my day job, so we’ll see where it leads me!” she says.

And what message does this motivated model and inspiring Instagram influencer have for other fledgling fashionistas and fierce females out there?

“Always be yourself, let your personality shine and to love yourself. Most importantly, I also like to remind that there are so many people in the world working against us, that’s okay. Turn their negativity into energy you can use to fuel your growth and strength,” Leah says. “We cannot ever control what people say to us, but we can control the way we react.”

For her message of body positivity, self-love, and for being a role-model of motivation, we think that Leah Stanley is a very Cool Girl!

Keep in touch with Leah by following her on Instagram @Voluptuousleah.

We made a $200 donation to Planned Parenthood on behalf of Leah. We encourage you to make a donation too!

India Rows

Name: India Rows
Age: 35
Location: Athens, GA
Occupation: World Traveling, Pearl Loving Founder of The Pearl Girls

India Rows has a passion for pearls. This Georgia native fell in love with the gems while traveling, and transformed her penchant for pearls into a thriving business that combines retail and outreach to bridge the gap between manufacturing, education, and sales.

“It all started while my husband and I were traveling through Asia after our wedding in 2006.”

“It all started while my husband and I were traveling through Asia after our wedding in 2006,” India recalls. “I’m a true Southern girl and I grew up with a love of pearls; I’d received a necklace as a graduation gift and I truly thought that I would never be able to afford to buy another strand for myself. We went on this amazing journey and I found gorgeous pearls at very accessible prices. The value was extraordinary and their beauty…well, I can hardly put into words how gorgeous pearls are.”

Not content to simply purchase a strand and return home, India bought a few pieces and sent them back home to her sister’s art gallery to see if they would sell. They quickly did. She sent several more pieces while she was on the road and, when she returned back to the United States, she became determined to apply her delight in this exquisite jewelry to learn about the gemstone business. India’s curiosity and desire to better comprehend the environmental background of pearls, where they come from, and how pieces are made led her to seek out courses in gem classification. She attended the Gemological Institute of America in order to further her formal pearl education.

“When you go to a jewelry store to buy a diamond, you know exactly what you are getting. There are 4 Cs to diamonds: cut, clarity, carat weight and color, and there are very specific ways to document their classification. Pearls, on the other hand, have no universally accepted grading system, this means you will never be told the exact quality of your pearls or pearl jewelry,” she explains. “Instead, there are seven different quality factors that we look at to grade pearls.”

It was from this experience learning how to choose appropriate pearls, and several journeys through the Orient in search of beautiful pearl pieces, that India decided to found her own company in 2008. It was then that The Pearl Girls was born. Through their website, The Pearl Girls provide not only gorgeous pearl pieces, but information on such topics as freshwater versus saltwater pearls, how to determine fake pearls from the real thing, and pearl science.

“I soon realized that The Pearl Girls are more than a pearl jewelry company, it’s about the actual Pearl Girls: the women who enjoy these gems and who want to celebrate themselves and the ones they love through the gift of pearls. People call me when babies are being born, when they are graduating, celebrating their 16th birthdays, Mother’s Day, and anniversaries,” India says. “That is what The Pearl Girls is about.”

When she’s not at work with The Pearl Girls, India is spending time with her two sons, playing, swimming, going on walks or having fun in the park. “When they go down for a nap I do have to admit that I love curling up with a good book,” India confesses.

If you’re interested in pearls, jewelry, or hearing more about India and The Pearl Girls’ endeavors, you can find them at www.ThePearlGirls.com. There you can also see the new, free short film that India has made documenting her travels to pearl farms in The Philippines and China. She’s also embarking on a new personal pearl blog at www.IndiaRows.com. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.