LLXLLQ Featuring: Valencia Shanté, model and ex basketball pro, size 11

 How were you introduced to LLXLLQ large designer shoes for women?

During SF Fashion week last year, I met Johanna. I’d just come back from doing a fashion show in NY and was super excited. I'd never watched a runway show before; until then, I’d always just been in them. Witnessing one really gave me another perspective of what I can do better as a model. It wound up being a great experience and I got the chance to walk a competition they had at the end of the show. Afterwards, Johanna came up and introduced herself and LLXLLQ, which developed to me becoming a spokes model for LLXLLQ.

What has your experience been like with LLXLLQ footwear?

My time here has been great and I can definitely see the growth in this company. It has nowhere to go but up. I love that they represent larger and wider shoes for women like me. I've been wearing a size 11 since 8th grade and it’s always been a struggle to find comfortable, good-looking shoes. I usually just had to endure the pain of trying to look cute in stilettos, etc. and never was really interested in investing in getting shoes specially made.

What was your reaction the first time you tried on LLXLLQ shoes?

The first time I came out to the store and tried on some shoes for a photo shoot, I was like, “Oh my God, they fit, they're cute AND they're comfortable!”

And then, after she finished taking my pictures, I was like, “YES! I can’t wait to have all of these in my closet! ” It was the best day ever.

To date, what are your favorite LLXLLQ shoes?

I love the shoes called Ivy – they’re basically open-toe black heels; very sexy and sophisticated. I plan on wearing them for an upcoming photo shoot. 

How did you break into modeling?

I've wanted to be a model and professional basketball player since I was 13. Back then, I had the worst self-esteem and was a tomboy, so I didn’t tell anyone about my dreams until college. After school, I enrolled myself into modeling school so I could get the etiquette down, did my first photo shoot in San Diego, and then, went on to do some local shows for about 5 years.

In 2008, I had just returned from playing basketball in Italy and I went to this hair salon in Richmond.  They were having a photo shoot with Salon Source Magazine, featuring celebrity photographer, Steve Savage. A stylist asked me to do the photo shoot and I did it 2 days after that. It was my first time doing a professional photo shoot and when the photographer showed me my first professional photo, I had tears in my eyes because I’d never seen myself in that way before.  

I've loved that I met some people along the way during my modeling career who've really believed in me. I haven't really had any bad experiences throughout this journey. The main thing has been the change in the model size-- sizes 0 and 1—which can be really annoying sometimes but it's always ended up working in my favor. I've always been able to walk in with confidence and they allow me to still work despite being the exception to the rule that defines a model’s usual weight. Pushing the boundaries on these standards has been my driving force.

What about basketball?

I haven’t played basketball since 2008. I still have love for the game and if the opportunity presents itself again, it'll happen. But, I have just moved to New York City and I’m really just focused on the modeling and acting aspect right now, in parallel with my studies. 

What’s the main advice you’d give to women with larger sized feet and for potential LLXLLQ customers?

Just embrace it -- your size--and be confident. When you are of bigger stature, you stand out -- people recognize you, so take advantage of that. I notice a lot of younger girls, starting ages 11 and up, wear larger sized shoes and they need to feel comfortable with this reality. The earlier, the better. 

I say this because a lot of people – men and surprisingly, a lot of women--still think just before you're tall with larger feet, you can’t be sexy and attractive. That’s not true at all. Some women start feeling down about themselves for this reason, but I’m quick to say, “Girl, you better quit playing and try on these shoes!”

Thank you Valencia! All the best in New York City!
Lyndsey Ellis and The LLXLLQ Team

Photo below by Pete F. Hopkins Photograhy