That's what Nina Parker could be saying right now to the big name designers who declined to dress her in the past. Instead, she's grateful for the "Nos" because of how they pushed her to where she is now.
This week, the E! host is launching The Nina Parker Collection for Macy's, making her the first Black woman to have a plus-size line developed specifically for the retailer. The launch comes a little over a year after Parker -- who hosts "Nightly Pop" and is a red carpet correspondent for the network -- made headlines for designing her own Oscar dress in 2020 due to the lack of options for women her size.
At the time, she was asked a lot about her own line, as the wheels were already spinning behind the scenes.
"I think what I've learned is rejection is always protection and there's those moments where it hurts and you feel a little insecure, like, 'Dang, they don't feel I'm important enough to dress. It hurts, but then I think if you're a go-getter, a doer, you take that frustration and turn it into something positive," she told TooFab ahead of the launch. "For me, I'm like, okay yeah, this one designer dissed me personally, and look how I'm able to bless all these women across the world. I'm so thankful for those nos, because it really is fueling to yesses in other ways."
While Nina said the "hot head" version of herself from the past would have put the designers who either refused to dress her or simply ghosted her on blast, she realized that wouldn't resolve the problem. "It was ultimately like, what can I do about it?" she explained.
In December 2019, Parker said she made a vision board while reevaluating her life as a whole and, on it, she said she wanted to design her own clothing line. She then voiced that same desire to her agent during a dinner -- who responded by exclaiming, "Girl, what?!"
"It was holiday season and she was like, 'Alright, look, I'll look into it when we get back into the office,'" said Parker, who got a call literally two days later saying Reunited Clothing had called looking for someone to start a plus-size line with. "it was almost like the universe answered me," she added, explaining they jumped at the opportunity, presented a shortened line to Macy's, who then signed on for a full collection.
"I didn't initially start my career in fashion or even care about fashion for a long time because I didn't feel like fashion cared about me," Parker explained, saying she got schooled on style by Reunited. "When I realized fashion is not one thing -- it doesn't always mean runway and couture -- I realized there's all different kinds of street fashion, it really opened up my mind to what would be available."
With her line, Parker hoped to fix some of the issues she felt were plaguing the plus-size fashion space for years. While acknowledging there are brands that exist "where you can get great clothes," she wants to expand the horizons further.
"I'd sometimes think they think, 'There's jeans and they're in your size, you should be happy.' And I think, especially as a woman of color, I often feel like people think you should just appreciate you're in the room, but we don't what to hear what you have to say," Parker told TooFab. "I often feel like that's the same with plus-size, 'We have your sizes so you should just be happy.' But it's more than that. Why are these specific outfits stopping at a size 10? Why are we not creating sexy tops for women who have sizes 12 and up? It seemed like it was so limited, I was tired of seeing that and was like, we need to come out with some items women can feel good in and not feel like we're dressing like your grandmother."
"The problem is it's few and far between or the price point is questionable or it's only available online. My girlfriends who are a size 4 don't have that issue, they can go into any store and find something that looks good on them," she said. "They can wear cheap materials and it looks good on them. I can't do that. Not with these breasts! I can't wear a tank top that's $5 and it looks expensive. That's just not gonna work."
After teaming up with Reunited, she got a crash course in fashion jargon and, after filming "Nightly Pop" every morning, would get home and dive headfirst into virtual meetings on the line.
"I would be on Zoom from 2-3 hours a day and I was a part of the design of every single item," she said, saying her decisions included everything from the words adorning some of the clothes to the fit of the arm holes. "Every single part I was a part of, from start to finish. They didn't have one fitting that I wasn't a part of. It needed my approval to be in production."
One she started seeing the finished garments, things started getting real -- especially when she saw her name on one of the tags.
"When I freaked out is when I saw this and it says 'Nina Parker.' This is probably when I lost it, I was trying to scratch it off to see if this was real," she said with a laugh. "We were talking about what to name it. We had a meeting and I was like, 'What are we going to name this?' and they were like, 'uh, Nina Parker ... We're naming it after you, that's what the name should be girl.'"
Since the line was announced, Parker's followers have been anxiously awaiting its drop. Some have taken their support to the extreme, trying to bribe her on social media and reacting with some hilarious -- if only slightly unhinged -- memes. She's also got the support of people like Loni Love, Yvette Nicole Brown and Kym Whitley, who she's been supplying with samples to help get the word out.
"I've had some, I'm not gonna name drop, but I've had some A-list people reach out or respond, wanting to get some of the items and I'm kinda freaked out about it," she teased. "You probably will see on social media how I'll react because I'm probably gonna scream. The fact they want these items or want to wear my jeans, it just is like the biggest blessing."
Parker is thrilled by the enthusiastic response so far and said she sometimes does "feel like [she's] dreaming" knowing she's at a point in her career where she can not only call out issues in the fashion industry, but also make real change herself.
"Sometimes, especially as a Black woman, you feel like you're screaming into an empty room where nobody's paying attention to you. I've felt like that over the years and now I feel like people are paying attention and I don't want to abuse that in any way," she said. "I don't mince words and it used to be something I got in trouble for but I think, ultimately, now it's making people pay attention and I hope that that helps to continue to progress narratives for everybody who feels disenfranchised."
The Nina Parker collection launches May 14 at Macys.com and in select Macy's locations.