Business partners Darliene and Peggy Howell and Dianne Hartley have a unique, on-line store with plenty of fun things to buy. Similar to a Hallmark or other card shop, chunkEbusiness.com is filled with home accents, prints and statues. What is different about chunkEbusiness? It is a “size-friendly” store that caters to large people.
Darliene and Peggy are sisters who live in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dianne, a third partner, lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Together they have created a shop where fat and/or large people can find home accessories and cards that positively portray the overweight.
Some of the articles carried by the store include coasters, ceramics and textiles. Trivets, cheese boards, cutting boards, oven mitts, and wallpaper borders can also be found. All feature positive images of large people.
Darliene, who is a cartoonist, explains. “I’ve always been kind of a pseudo-artist. I took every art class I could find at school. I have done caricatures for years.”
“We both so love art and appreciate others’ artistic accomplishments,” she says. “We’ve seen some things that I would never buy, because they didn’t portray fat people positively. We want to uplift people. The idea of our store is kind of whimsical. It’s a positive force.”
The sisters, who were raised outside of Chicago, spent thirty years in California before moving to Las Vegas in 2005. Darliene is retired; she used to work for the County of Sonoma (CA). Peggy was a bartender. Both women are members of a local group of BBWs (Big Beautiful Women).
“We had gone to a NAAFA convention in the early 90s, but there were no BBW chapters nearby,” Darliene explains. “The nearest were 70-80 miles away. Then, a few years ago, north of San Francisco, BBW dances started popping up. About the year 2000, we started involving ourselves with NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance), a size acceptance organization.”
It was this involvement that led to chunkEbusiness.com. “We thought it’d be sort of a niche market. But, the art appeals to everyone,” Darliene says. “For instance, Jennifer Garant created a series of fat chefs.”
Peggy elaborates. “In 2004, Jennifer’s stuff was very popular. (The “Abundant Chef” series) It was in the mainstream. We got to know Jennifer personally. She’s tiny, but she says there’s a fat woman inside of her, dying to get out. Her personal expression is abundance.”
She continues. “When we had a lot of Jennifer’s stuff, our site was pretty busy. Now, it’s people looking for something that represents BBWs in a positive way.”
“We have a man who is a customer with a big, beautiful wife. He’s in the military in Iraq. He contacts us and buys surprises for her. We’ve worked with him several times. He adores her.”
Some of the product lines that chunkEbusiness.com carries now include “Beautifully Big,” and “Katherine’s Collection.” The store still carries what’s left of “The Divas,” by “Blue Trumpet;” when their stock is gone, “The Divas” will no longer be available.
Peggy explains that the “mermaids” by Katherine’s Collection are the only item the maker sells representing fat people. She also says that they know Jill Neal of “Jill’s Wild (But Tasteful) Women” “We’ve met her several times,” she says.
A Public Service
“Beyond what is for sale, our website is a resource for BBWs. We have links to other businesses – if a woman wants a costume, or large-size clothing, we have links to other businesses specific to the plus-size community.”
“We’ve tried to put together something that’s going to be helpful to our community.”