This is a perfect example, of the patience that I’ve learnt, on my iPhone photo to fabric design journey.
Patience is something that eludes me in most areas of my life, because my mind races continuously with pattern, print and of course colour, and I want to see them all, now! The introduction to Photoshop for the final stage of the building of the fabric prints, has humbled me, and I now know that what I see in my design brain, requires many hours of patience, to achieve the final result. This rose print, that I created from a photo that I took with my iPhone, of a beautiful pink rose in my garden, and then put through some very interesting apps on my iPad, is an example of the patience that I’ve learnt on my photo to fabric design journey.
I built this rose print from scratch, and out of interest I’m logging the hours for these prints. This one took 15 hours. It was intense because it’s the first time I’ve gone down this print road, but the result has been so incredibly rewarding. I’ve seen the samples on, and they do exactly what the plan is, fit and flatter, and offer the colour that my market so desperately want to wear.
I design for a hugely diverse market, and my objective when planning the prints, is to always take into account how much cover I can achieve, whilst still offering the maximum amount of colour. The lighter colours are a challenge because they tend to show every lump and bump, but when you choose a crazy colour like this vibrant lilac, and you cover it with roses, which just happen to be one of my favourite flowers, you fool the eyes of the beholder, because between the colour and the print, there is so much going on, that lumps and bumps don’t have a chance to feature.
Not sure how many of these marathon prints I can do, but I’ve dreamt of a print like this for so long, and knowing that I can create it myself, makes me a very happy fabric and fashion designer.
I took a very ordinary photo of a not so ordinary flower. It should have been trashed…but…there’s always app editing to save a bad photo.
My day today was crazy, beautiful and so incredibly rewarding. We’re printing new fabric designs for Hayley Joy for Summer ’18, and today was one of those days where everything that came off the heat press, lived up to my design dream. I’m doing lots of florals and of course lots of colour.
The heat press runs at 200 degrees, and our space is small, so little mini breaks are a necessity. This flower has been incubating in my design head since I edited it yesterday. I couldn’t wait to play with it, so on my little mini break, I went on a crazy editing journey. We joked and said that at the rate I was going, I could be designing “a print a minute”.
This is the edited version that I took on the design journey.
Once I’d cleaned the image up and created something that I could work with, I started playing.
The first edit was a simple one so that I had a base to work from.
From there it was into my most favourite app called Frax, which creates incredible Fractals. There were so many amazing results, here are a few of my favourites.
This will definitely illustrate why I’m so inspired by app editing. After all, this was a very pretty flower, captured badly, that should have been trashed.
These remind me of very glammed up seashells.
I see this design on silk scarves (my big dream is to have my own Fractal prints, printed on pure silk.)
From here I started to build actual prints for my clothing collections.
I can’t wait to print these on Chiffon.
I often get asked for fabric prints with yellow. It’s not a colour I ever really work with, but I’ve decided to honour the requests this season, and really liked this combination.
I’m not sure what I would do with this, but I love it, so I’ve added it to my think tank.
And last but not least, my absolute favourite – a labour of love to isolate it onto the black background, but so worth the effort. This one I’d print on a huge canvas.
My appproach to my life is a choice. I choose to see the beauty in everything. It doesn’t make me lucky and it isn’t always perfect, but it sure beats wallowing in the negativity that we are purposefully exposed to. The more pretty pictures I post, the more people tell me how lucky I am that my life seems so perfect. There’s no such thing as the perfect life, but there’s definitely a thing called the perfect choice.
How do you keep the masses from questioning your dodgy actions?
You keep them stupid, hungry, cold and in debilitating debt. That way they will just be trying to survive, they will never have time or capacity to question or see the beauty in anything.
How do you not become one of those masses?
You make a very conscious choice to choose a different life. You enlighten yourself any way you can. Don’t assume that you have to pay for everything, you don’t, you live in the smartest world, with access to things called Google and YouTube, that can teach you anything you want to know, for free. Don’t tell me it’s not free because you need data, there’s free wi-fi, you may just have to choose to look a little harder for it.
How do you shift your thinking from shame poor me to Yay me?
You stop listening to fake negative news, that’s a logical choice. You choose to search out the beauty that we are surrounded by, and hardly ever see, because you’re so busy obsessing about situations you cannot ever change. You hold a thing in your hand every single day that enables you to capture so much beauty. Go to the camera in your phone, focus on something beautiful and capture it, and then share it and make somebody happy, because you made a choice to share beauty and not ugly! You don’t have to be a photographer, you just have to be committed to seeing the beauty that is everywhere, and that has been gifted to us for free. You’re surrounded by it, you just have to start seeing it.
And when you start experiencing the feeling of satisfaction, because you put something beautiful out into the world, then you will understand the difference between being lucky and being the navigator of your own destiny.
It’s always a choice 💜
In conversation with a very dear client this week, she told me that I absolutely have to share my experiences so far in 2017, because there are so many people going through so much, and sometimes it takes somebody else’s experiences to put your own into perspective…so here goes…whew, and it’s only the middle of March!
2016 was a year of immense challenges both personally and as an entrepeneur. The world as we knew it shifted once again, and new challenges presented themselves. Personally I was dealing with watching my beloved father dying a very slow death in front of me. Watching the slow degradation really took its toll on me towards the end of 2016, and it was only my faith in focusing on the light, that enabled me to keep the darkness at bay.
But then as life does, it always offers up two choices. I had embarked on a journey to realising my dream of designing and printing my own exclusive fashion fabrics, that would allow me to take my Plus size fashion collections to a whole new level, and that was my welcome diversion. I completely immersed myself in my great love which is all things fabric related. And so 2016 came to an end, and I was able to go away for 4 days and indulge my love for iPhone photography. I discovered a love for bugs and macro photography, and captured nature at it’s really ‘up close’ best.
And into 2017 I came with an excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time. I went full steam into converting my iPhone photos into fabric prints, and on the 10th of February we printed our first samples of my exclusive designs. Realising my 25 year dream was a defining moment, and I came alive with a feeling that made me really excited. I rushed home after work to share my excitement, only to find that my Dad had taken a really bad turn. An hour later he died in front of us, and even though I never got to share my news with him, I knew that he had moved on, to release me to be able to go forth and give this new venture my all. It is a venture that will prove many things, because I’ve gone into it knowing very little, but am determined to take full advantage of the amazingly smart world we live in.
On the 11th of February, 24 hours after my Dad passed on, my beloved mother tripped over a shoe and fractured her hip. At this stage you’re probably reading this going “what!!”, well I felt the same way as I stood looking at her lying on the floor. It is 5 weeks since her fall and I have been ‘nursing’ her, never having taken care of anybody on this level before. I’ve been asked so many times how I do it, and it’s a crazy thing, but there’s a side of you that kicks in and you just do it. As negative as the actual experience was, there are many positives that have come out of it, the most important one being reconnection. We had all become so disconnected whilst dealing with my Dad’s illness, and in a crazy twist, my Mom’s fall forced us all to reconnect.
They say that things happen in 3’s and I so hoped that it wouldn’t be true, but unfortunately we’ve been dealt another devastating blow. Three weeks ago my father in law was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, and has been given four to six months to live. I’ve had to go from being supported to being the supporter.
I’m not one to question, so I’ve accepted that this is our journey in 2017, and our lives at the moment are filled with many juxtapositions. We live with tremendous sadness, and we live with tremendous excitement. The diversion that the excitement provides from the sadness, is one we will only truly understand in the months to come.
You’re probably asking how I’ve stayed upbeat and focused. My only advice is to find something that you can immerse yourself in when the going gets tough. I hope that your going is not as tough as mine has been, but my iPhone photography and iPhone editing, has been my absolute ‘sanity saver’.
Life as I knew it, is going to be forever changed in 2017, but I have a little toolbox in my head, filled with ‘life tools’ and I think I’m going to be calling on them a lot. Feel free to reach out if you need support.
On the 10th of February 2017 my 88 year old Dad passed away. It was not a life to be mourned, because that’s not what he would have wanted.
So how do I honour the man, who was so proud of my commitment to making a difference in the lives of Plus size women, and who had such a profound influence on my entrepreneurial journey. I spent the week after his death thinking about a lot of things, and the recurring message that kept coming through, was to celebrate his life, rather than to mourn his death.
I’m a great believer in the law of attraction, and live my life based on a simple philosophy of “do good, get good”. With this in mind, the Celebration of Life special came to be. In my Dad’s honour, I marked every piece of summer stock (old and new) down to R250, for one week, and oh my word, what a celebration it has been. This is how you honour and celebrate a life.
It’s only when you embark on a journey of giving on this scale, that you realise on a whole other level, how powerful the simple philosophy of the law of attraction, really is.
I’m sharing with you messages from clients who are part of the Hayley Joy family, and have been a part of my Plus size journey for many years. Situations change, finances change, but what doesn’t change, is my desire to make Hayley Joy accessible to everybody, and this Celebration promotion allowed me to do just that.
The gratitude from my clients cannot be measured, it has been so overwhelmingly beautiful, and I know that my Dad is looking down knowing that he has truly been honoured.
I deal with weight issues in every aspect of my life, I am overweight and I design and produce clothes for overweight women. There I have said it, and I didn’t cringe. It is what it is! So when I get asked this question ‘do you not get grossed out making clothes for fat women’…quoted exactly as said, I feel the need to clarify a couple of things and to address this issue.
I like to use the words Plus Size, when referring to my speciality. It has a neutral resonance.
No I don’t get grossed out at all, in fact the exact opposite, I am 1000 percent inspired, by my need to provide ranges of clothing that give plus size women, and in fact all size women, a range of clothing that is funky, fashionable and MOST importantly comfortable. I know that because I am a plus size myself, I really understand how it works.
Let’s play open cards here…none of us plus size women are going to be thin today, tomorrow or at the end of the month. We all battle our weight demons for different reasons. My sole purpose is to provide ranges of clothing that enable all shapes and sizes to feel fabulous…because, yes, believe it or not, us plus size chicks can feel fab, as long as we are comfortable, and are wearing clothing that we know have been genuinely designed with us in mind.
When I opened Hayley Joy I only sized up to a 3XL, within a year I had started doing a couple of the styles up to 5XL, and then I realized that, actually, there was a very, very urgent need for 6, 7 and 8XL. This is the true forgotten market, these women have minimal or no access to any kind of fashionable clothing. It is a challenge on many levels to produce fashionable clothing in these sizes, but I would not be complete and fulfilled if I was to ignore this market. I have invested many long hours in developing styles that allow me to grade up to these sizes and after years of investment it is now truly starting to pay off. It is the most awesome feeling to put a new range into production and add in those sizes, so that when those size clients come in to the store, there are ready to buy pieces in their sizes. I couldn’t ever explain the amount of gratitude I experience from these sizes, it is the most rewarding feeling in the world, to know that I am changing women’s lives by simply going the extra mile with them in mind. So no, I am not, ever grossed out making clothes for ‘fat women.’
This message from a client, is my ultimate reward and makes me so grateful to be able to make a living and a difference, whilst doing what I love sooooooooo much.
I get asked this question all the time…please open a shop in Pretoria, please open on the East Rand, West Rand, please open in Durban, Cape Town, P.E., Bloem, please open in London, Sydney, Germany, New York etc. etc. I get emails requesting agencies, and so it goes on. I’m going to attempt to explain the ‘why’ behind my decision…here goes…
I could never in my wildest dreams, have imagined how crazy things would become at Hayley Joy. I opened a store, in a small centre, doing something nobody else was doing. I set out to create a beautiful, safe space, that all the forgotten women out there, could claim as their own. Being Plus size myself, meant that I knew exactly what was needed. I also quickly realised, that the need for realistic regular sizes and odd sizes, was a very real need, so I went from setting out to open an exclusive Plus size store, to having a store that supplies all sizes. This decision has proved to be incredibly rewarding.
Not only do I have the store, I also have a full production facility, that supplies the store. Hayley Joy production, supplies Hayley Joy retail with 99% of it’s stock. I wear many hats at Hayley Joy, but my main job is to develop the shapes and styles, which are unique to Hayley Joy. I have developed a unique size curve, exclusive to Hayley Joy, based on true body measurements. This is what really sets us apart, the Hayley Joy, Plus size range, fits and flatters like a true Plus size range should. The Hayley Joy range is all about respect and honesty. I was determined that when you come shopping at Hayley Joy, there will be enough variety that will afford you choices, you won’t just have to buy something, because that’s all there is.
So to the dilemma of expansion. Because I wear so many hats at Hayley Joy, I have had to accept my limitations. I cannot be everywhere all the time. The two most important factors to me are the quality and styling of the garments. It takes a huge amount of my time to develop a new style, and I can never delegate this. A lot of the designs come together while I am working in the store. I’ll be chatting to a client and we’ll start thrashing out ideas and I will take that with me to production the following morning, and it’s there that my production manager Tina and I, will start planning a new concept. I’m hands on in production and am militant about quality. I never, ever waiver in my quest to put out beautifully designed, perfectly manufactured garments. It says so much about who and what Hayley Joy is about, good quality shows that we respect ourselves and our business. Once again time is a factor here. Because I insist on such stellar quality, our production is a bit slower, this means that unless I give work out, we can never open more stores. I have attempted to give work out, unfortunately it’s always a disaster, as the quality is never up to ‘my’ scratch. I have an awesome production unit and am really loathe to mess with it. It took a huge amount of input to get it to where it is today. There is such a fine line between growth and reality.
The reality is that I absolutely love what I do, I have more passion now than ever before. I want to always feel this way, and I honestly believe that the day it all becomes overwhelming, is the day I will stop loving what I do, and it will show in the final product.
In my search to find a way to offer Hayley Joy to women all over the world, I took Hayley Joy online, because this is an expansion that doesn’t require me to be too involved. All the background aspects are taken care of by a team, and I only get involved when I need to liaise with a client in connection with size. It will never be as effective as opening bricks and mortar stores, but it carries so many fewer risks, and it allows me to take care of what is most important, and that is constantly creating new styles and shapes, that fit and flatter all of us.
In a bold move, I opted to remove all the sizes from the labels in my garments, and replace them with shapes.
After many years on the shop floor at Hayley Joy, I felt that it was time for me to lead the way in eliminating body shaming, with dignity. I’ve spent many hours in one-on-one consultations and it always comes down to the same thing – low self-esteem – which isn’t helped by having to buy clothing with a 5XL, 6XL and 7XL label in it. Removing sizes from my garment labels, seemed the most obvious thing to do, after the umpteenth call from a client asking us to cut out the labels from their clothing, because their husband, son, son-in-law or boss were coming to collect on their behalf, and “they absolutely couldn’t have them see what size she is buying.” The final affirmation for me was when a client sent me a picture of a Hayley Joy garment belonging to her mom, that had the corner of the label cut out, where the size normally is.
I’m never one to play it safe, so I decided to go where no other clothing designer and manufacturer had really gone before. I allocated colours to the various sizes, and it felt so good to say you’re a yellow, or a pink, or a green. And then at 3am one morning, which is when my brain tends to decide to have it’s real moments, I woke with absolute clarity…I needed to have coloured labels with shapes. This would mean that instead of clients referring to their size as a 2XL, they become a pink heart (which is the new label for a 2XL HJ garment). As a shapely women, it made perfect sense to me, and I knew it would make perfect sense to my clients, and in turn, would eliminate the stress of a number in a label.
Many clothing brands have dropped the plus-size from the description of their ranges, and are seeing a marked increase in profits, but nobody has gone as far as removing sizes completely. Practically I think it’s difficult to remove sizes if you are a store carrying multiple brands. For Hayley Joy it makes perfect sense, because we manufacture all our collections in our own production facility, exclusively for our retail store. It’s easier for us to educate our present and future clients on how to buy the ranges. It also allows for us to demonstrate our respect for the issues around sizing. I’d spent months on the internet reading comments on anything Plus-size related, and the recurring gripe is this, “Why do we have to be labelled, why can’t we just be part of the consumer chain?”
I had given it much thought, and was in agreement. It was time to start offering fashion in all sizes, with no stigma. Hayley Joy is known as a Plus-size brand, but the reality is that we cater for all sizes. I have many clients who buy Hayley Joy small, because they like the styles and the look and feel. They are really not fazed by what size we go up to. In fact, they are often in awe, that there is a brand who is taking a small pattern, and sizing it all the way up to a 7XL.
As a small independent boutique, attempting to do something that radical, within the clothing space, was risky. But for me, I believe that the time was right for somebody to make a move in this very maligned area of fashion.
Plus-size clothing has a stigma, there is no denying it. I’m hoping that by making the changes and removing sizes completely, HJ has created a precedent, and at the same time, demonstrated to women out there, that somebody has taken heed of all the feedback, and come up with a fun, quirky way to limit the stigma and remove the trauma of shopping by size. I think we’ve been so fixated on size for so long, that we’ve forgotten that we have a shape too, and it’s our shape that defines the clothing we wish to wear.
I hope that this will revolutionise the way women are marketed to in fashion, globally. It’s time for women of all shapes and sizes to be honoured. I want this to become a global undertaking. We the designers, who are claiming to know a thing or two about Plus-size fashion, need to realise that our clients needs are not that complicated, they just want respectfully designed, well fitting, fashion forward clothing, without stigma around their size.
I want to be that designer who changed the way women of all sizes are marketed to. In my own small way, I hoped that this would revolutionise the way women were marketed to in fashion, globally. It was time for women of all shapes and sizes to be honoured. I wanted this to become a global undertaking. We the designers, who claim to know a thing or two about Plus-size fashion, needed to start realising that our clients needs are not that complicated, they just want respectfully designed, well fitting, fashion forward clothing, without stigma around their size. I believed that the first step in taking the trauma out of sizing…and the first step for Hayley Joy towards this, was to make fashion about a Shape, not a Size.
2016 was a year of learning for me. In my 52nd year I went back to school for the first time in 35 years. I chose to do an online digital marketing course with Getsmarter…yes me…the once VERY technologically challenged girl!
I ran my business and I studied for 10 very intense weeks, and I passed…proudly.
I learnt how to REALLY delegate. Yes me the one time control freak. And how did it feel I hear you asking, it felt sooooooo liberating. If you’re not good at it, try it, it is life changing. Hire right, my business coach Brent Spilkin from Growing Pains said, never a truer word spoken. Delegating allows you to dream big, and deliver even bigger.
I learnt how to take a random chance and I signed up for an online iPhone photography course, that has completely transformed my life. It has unleashed a creativity in me that I never knew was there. It has taught me patience, it’s taught me to be so much more observant, it’s connected me with some of the most amazing humans all over the world. It’s awoken my creativity on an explosive level.
I learnt how to expand my business without stretching myself thin. I took Hayley Joy online and have enabled women all over the world to have access to true Plus size fashion, designed by a genuine Plus size designer. To date we have not had one garment returned for a refund, and have only had two size changes. That is an enormous achievement in the online sales world.
So how do I top 2016 in 2017?
I go back to school to do an online graphic design course, to realise a 30 year dream, to design and print my own exclusive ranges of fashion fabrics. They say that the only way we are going to make it in business, going forward, is to stand out. I have every intention of taking my new found love and knowledge of photography, and creating collections of fabrics that have never been seen before. I am going to listen to the future predictors, and I’m sooooooo going to stand out. I want to be that girl that at 52 took on the world and did it her way.