Fashion designer Heather Thomson has worked with Beyonce, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Jennifer Lopez on their successful clothing brands. Now, the mother of two has started her own business, making clothing that would empower other women and make them look good and feel good. Thomson’s Yummie Tummie line is shapewear with a fashionable twist. “I truly mix fashion and function,” she says. Unlike some of the other popular undergarments on the market, she makes tank tops, blouses and dresses with a patented four-way stretch control built inside, which allows customers to transform their bodies and strut their stuff with confidence and style. In the Yummie Tummie New York City showroom, Thomson sat down with ESSENCE.com to talk about her vision, inspiration and personal mission to boost women’s self esteem — as well as her own
: I had just had my son who was sick, I gained extra baby weight, and Beyonce was encouraging me to get back into the office. So I wanted to go back to work looking and feeling as strong as I could. I wanted to boost my confidence. I wanted to walk in the office and be like, ‘Hey, girl!’ I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me because I had a sick baby. So it was really important to me that I looked together. When I went to the shapewear department, I was aghast at my options. ‘These really are my grandma’s girdles.’ is what I said to myself as a designer. As a consumer, I was like ‘Do I really have to wear this stuff?’ When I tried it on, not only did it fail me aesthetically, it failed me functionally. It would roll down so my fat roll was bigger than before. Underneath, it was cutting. I was in a bad mood by the time I was done. I was hot, it was chafing, pinching and riding, so it actually did the opposite of boosting my confidence; it deflated it. I felt terrible about myself. A light went off in my head. I was like, I don’t want women to feel like me. I was that size 6 kind of girl my whole life. I’m never going to be the way I was without some type of plastic surgery or some miraculous intervention where I can stop working and work out six times a week with a trainer and have a nutritionist. I’m a real person, I am but flesh and blood, and life is not airbrushed. And that was the beginning of the tank top. It has shaping built into it; this is a ‘core-drobe’ piece. I started designing negligee that a woman wouldn’t feel bad in. When you are standing in that doorway [she puts her hands in the air like she is straddling a door jam and sits on one hip], you want to be fun! You going to feel sexy and wonderful in this. So anybody’s ‘Aha’ moment can be fantastic — and versatile. This goes from the bedroom to the boardroom. This is real innerwear/outerwear. I like to see that the classification of shape wear is getting classier and more sexy — and lovelier to wear. We did that. Our products are comfortable to wear — this is versatility.