Welcome to Just The Way You Are. My name is Sophie Thwaites and I am the proud owner of this bridal boutique in North Tyneside.
I’m in my 30's and I’ve been on every diet under the sun during my adult life; from shakes and soups to low carbs and hammering the gym. So basically, I’ve been hungry for more than a decade.
It’s taken a long time and the love and support of my family and friends to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be a size 10. I’ll always have ‘thunder thighs’ as the boys at school used to call me and I’ll always have bits that wobble.
I’ve realised that as long as you’re happy and healthy it really doesn’t matter what the scales say. I’ve learned to embrace my curves and I actually like what I see when I look in the mirror (well most of the time anyway).
The idea for my business came from personal experiences as a plus-size shopper. At 18 years old and a size 24-26, there was only one shop on the high street for ‘big’ women, so I used to go out clubbing with my skinny friends wearing what can only be described as tents with buttons.
As I came down a few sizes I occasionally attempted to find fashionable clothes on the high street, only to be sneered at by stick insect shop assistants, when their largest size didn’t fit.
At age 24 and size 18, I was asked to be bridesmaid by my brother and his now wife. The two other bridesmaids were size 10. We went looking for dresses and I’ll never forget how one woman made me feel when she looked me up and down and said ‘We have nothing that will fit you!’
I felt so ashamed and embarrassed, but then I thought about how I would feel if I was the bride. As every girl knows, the dress is one of the most important purchases when planning a wedding. We all hope we will feel like a princess and find the perfect gown to wear when we walk down the aisle to marry our true love.
But what if we were confronted by a woman who looked down her nose at us and dismissed us towards catalogues as the shop had nothing for us to try on. To be honest, my heart broke at the thought of it.
I went back to university as a mature student at 27 to study Business Management and had to come up with a new business proposal as part of my course. Just The Way You Are was born.
The last six years haven’t been easy, as I took on two jobs to save the funds needed to start up; but I can say, hand on heart, that the grey hairs and sleepless nights have all been worth it, when I see my brides’ faces light up, when they put on the perfect gown for their special day.
We have moved out of the City Centre, to the coast, to enable us to expand our offering, as over the past two years, since we opened I’ve come across brides with maids of all shapes and sizes. They’ve told me how they have found it hard to find shops that cater for maids of different sizes, so our new Bridesmaids & More suite has been set up to do just that. With bridesmaid samples from size 6 – 28, we hope we can meet the needs of our brides and their maids for many years to come.
I welcome you to Just The Way You Are, where you will always be greeted by a friendly face and beautiful gowns in your size to try on during dedicated 2-hour private appointments.