"Plus size" is not a description one hears when visiting La SunShine Boutique in Tampa. Despite the store carrying women's clothes ranging from small to 3X, owner April Sims refuses to use those words. "Curvy," she says, is a much better one to describe a customer's body shape, because it encourages them to celebrate their size, not try to hide it — and that is exactly what her store aims to do.
Named after Sims' nickname growing up, which she earned because of her upbeat and positive attitude, La SunShine's clothing is intended to make the wearer feel happy. Black is seldom found on the racks — maybe on a clutch ($27) or a few basic pieces. Instead, bright colors and textures fill the store, from a pink floral romper ($49) to sunglasses ($15) in various pastel shades.
The store is divided by size, but the difference is only noticeable when looking at the tags. Sims' approach is to have similar looks for all sizes with a few alterations that flatter curves in just the right way. She styles outfits like a black and white patterned jacket ($39.50) that some customers might expect would make them look bigger, with a slimming pencil skirt so they know it won't. If arms are the customer's problem area, she suggests a dark yellow cap sleeve top ($28) that shows off the shoulders and some skin while disguising what they don't want visible.
Sims calls her store a collaboration, since customers often ask her for certain styles or pieces, which she makes available within a week. Customers have been doing so since Sims opened her shop in 2013, helping to shape it into a go-to shopping spot. To return the favor, Sims helps customers put outfits together and on the second Saturday of every month, La SunShine treats them to free mimosas and breakfast while they shop a tent sale featuring a variety of items for $25 or less.