Lee Lee's Valise Steps Into Spotlight With TLC Makeover Series

Carroll Gardens plus-sized clothing shop owners Lisa and Jim Dolan debut as the stars of "Big Brooklyn Style" on Tuesday, May 29.

Are you listening, Mr. DeMille? One of Carroll Gardens' favorite clothing boutiques is ready for its closeup. 

Lisa and Jim Dolan, owners of , will debut as the stars of TLC's "Big Brooklyn Style" on Tuesday, May 29.

After providing makeovers for curvy and plus-sized women out of their Court St. shop for the last five years, the Brooklyn-bred couple will be bringing their style tips to a national audience twice a week as part of the cable channel's new summer lineup.

"I feel like everything I've done in my life has led me to this point," said Lisa Dolan, sitting in the rear lounge area of the shop. "It's the next evolution. I'm so nervous!"

She shouldn't be. So far, Dolan's instincts haven't led her astray: When she couldn't find clothing in the neighborhood that suited her needs, she decided to open her own store specializing exclusively in sizes 10 to 28. Then, when she was unsatisfied with the fit of pieces bought from existing labels, she became determined to design her own line.

"I started making my own stuff because no one was listening to me," said Dolan. "Because I have to be able to dress my customer and they need to trust me.

"The worst thing would be for someone to go home and say, 'eh, she talked me into it.' I'd rather talk people out of a dress they are on the fence about. Then, they can call me in a panic the next day and ask if it's still here. That's much better."

By establishing trust with a client base that had been previously ignored, Dolan quickly developed a large following of regulars in the neighborhood. It wasn't long before women were driving from hours away to shop with their mothers or sisters on a birthday.

Roughly 20 appearances on TLC's "What Not to Wear" later—assisting co-host Stacy London as she dressed various voluptuous guests—Dolan was fielding inquiries from shoppers in other states and even abroad.

"We really worked very hard for [TLC] whenever they came; cleaning, moving things around in the store," Dolan recalled. "And of course, we fed them! They'd say, 'usually, we don't even get water where we go' and I'd tell them, 'you're in Brooklyn now!'"

Keeping things "Brooklyn" is an important pillar of the Lee Lee's Valise philosophy.

"My family started here in Carroll Gardens, I grew up in the Midwood area, and then came back 11 years ago," said Dolan. "My husband never left." 

"All the restaurants are our friends because we've lived here all our lives," chimes in Dolan's husband, Jim. "The real neighborhood places. Old school."

So when an out-of-towner comes in to shop and then wants a taste of Brooklyn cuisine, the couple has a long list of friends to steer their direction.

"There's a real difference between going someplace like —where you gotta pay cash and the owner, Louie, will throw you out if he doesn't like the looks of you—to a place that's a glorified version of The Olive Garden," said Jim Dolan. "We send them to Sam's, , . Real family places."

In fact, the pair will be celebrating the premiere of "Big Brooklyn Style" upstairs at local Italian joint , complete with a red carpet, a "stop and repeat," and live-tweeting throughout the show from the Twitter handle @leeleesvalise.

Executive producer Stacy London, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and other celebrities, both neighborhood and national, will attend to toast this local girl and guy made good.

"I have so many things to do to get ready for the party between now and then," said Dolan.

And what will the style-maker be wearing on that ruby rug?

Naturally, one of her own. 

Big Brooklyn Style Premieres Tuesday, May 29 at 10/9c on TLC following "What Not to Wear."

Danielle May 27, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Congratulations on your continuing success!
Jerry Jones May 27, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Great write up for great people, Lisa & Jim Dolan
Kourtney May 29, 2012 at 04:24 PM
This is great, congrats!! I love when I see familiar places on television. I will watch for sure.
Pam Credit June 21, 2012 at 01:43 AM
I love your show! I have lost over 120lbs and for the first time in years I am under two hundred lbs. I hope you make more half hour shows. I like your designs and the blue belted pocket dress is one of my favorites. Pam from Illinois
Pam Credit June 21, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I love your show. I am hoping you make more shows. Your designs are beautiful I love the blue pocket dress.


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