This blog was originally written by Madeleine Villa.

To know Latoya is to know the sun itself. Her personality warm and inviting, spunky and loud, a woman who leads by example and never without a smile.

Henkaa has had the honor and privilege of working with Latoya, and we could not be more enthused to share a bit of her story with you!

Woman in Peach Pink Coral Infinity dress looking over shoulder.

Latoya was raised in Toronto with most of her childhood set in Markham. Her background is Jamaican and she is 38 years young! After completing high school she went to Centennial College to study Early Childhood Education but after her first year, she changed her studies to Child and Youth Worker. That was cut short when Latoya had her first child.

Latoya brought three beautiful children into the world: “a bouncing baby girl who is now almost 19 years old (yes I have a 19-year-old!). In 2003 I had my only prince (15), and in 2006 I had another princess (13).”

Women in coral infinity dress and patterned chiffon overlay at splash-pad park.

With three kids, Latoya went back to school, this time to become a Community Service Worker at TriOS College and graduated with honors. Now Latoya raises her three teenagers and works two Administrator Assistant jobs along with MC’ing events and modeling on the side - to say she is busy is an understatement!

Woman modelling jean shirt and leopard print skirt against purple backdrop.

She has 7,500 followers on Instagram and describes herself as a plus-size model working to inspire others to love their body! She says she often gets questions about her outfits accompanied by comments like “I’m way too shy to wear something like that” but Latoya thrives off her confidence and always encourages others to as well. Overall Latoya’s online presence accurately reflects her day-to-day vibes: all positivity and all love. She says that this isn’t because she doesn’t struggle but rather to encourage and push others to “stay joyful on this self-love journey”.

Women in black off-the-shoulder dress with pink, white and gold balloons.

Some of the women that inspire Latoya are plus size models: ‘Eff Your Beauty Standards creator Tess Holliday (@tessholliday), Toronto Queen Esther Nakitende (@nakitende_esther) and first plus-size model winner of Project Runway Liris Crosse (@lirisc). But her mother comes in on top as the number one inspiring woman in her life saying: “to meet her is to love her, my jovial yet so phenomenal mother Marcia. She is my biggest cheerleader, supports me in anything that I want to do, and loves me unconditionally beyond all my flaws.” If Marcia is any bit the same as Latoya we can only imagine just how inspiring and supportive she is.

Women in Henkaa Apricot Coral Infinity dress holding bouquet of flowers at Country Heritage Park.

When asked whether Latoya thought of herself as an inspiring woman she said: “many times I've been told that my personality is golden, others love my presence and state that when I step into a room you can just see and feel my confidence.” This could not be more true to the experiences Henkaa has had with Latoya. We have worked with Latoya countless times since meeting her at the Miss Fuller pageant in 2016.

Women in Henkaa Nude Champagne Infinity dress at Rose Gold Sequin Skirt at Country heritage Park

Latoya recently modeled for Henkaa during our Spring/Summer 2019 Collection shoot. Having Latoya on set is like having a comedian, therapist and problem-solver on set as well! The laughs are endless, the encouragement boundless, and all crisis’ averted! Did you know that all the jewelry in the shoot was provided by Latoya? Our jewelry vendor was unable to make it but -crisis averted, Latoya brought all her jewelry with her so we had tons to choose from!

Two bridesmaids eating cookies together at Country Heritage Park in Henkaa Convertible Dresses

We’re happy that the love is mutual, Latoya had nothing but kind things to say about working with Henkaa: “honestly there has never been a dull moment with the ladies of Henkaa. They are ALWAYS pleasant, professional, down to earth, and made me feel welcomed/comfortable. However, what I admire the most from them is the realness. They are just true to themselves (transparent) and I love that about the ladies that work there!”

Plus-size model holding 'self love' lightbox and smirking against white wall.

Currently, Latoya is in a group focussed on women empowerment -mind, body, and soul. But she hopes to get more involved with programs focused on body positivity, especially for young girls. Her overall goal is to “walk into my purpose that will allow me to inspire people of all ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and walks of life!”

To keep up to date on everything Latoya follow her on Instagram HERE!