Sunday hiking is my reboot for the week that lies ahead. I discovered the Modderfontein reserve in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2018, whilst scrolling on Facebook, and oh my word, what a find! It’s the old AECI explosives testing site, which now comprises 700 hectares of the most pristine and beautiful hiking, cycling and running trails.
My health has been an issue for many years, but in 2018, I decided to take it back. I got off all the meds that I’d been put on, because nobody knew what was really wrong with me. All I knew was that I was in pain from my brain to my toes. 13 months later and I hiked 10km’s today!
I stopped eating inflammatory, synthetic foods and I slowly started exercising. In the beginning I exercised through the pain, but as I lost each kilo, the pain diminished on it’s own, with no pain killers needed. I’ve lost 12 kilos and many more inches, and I feel human again. It’s a very special feeling to feel human after feeling like an alien in your own body, for so long.
Of course I could never do it without the support of my patient beautiful life partner Mr. C. Without him I know I would never get up at 5am on a Sunday, to go hiking at 6am.
I’ve never been more determined than I was, to make it out of 2016 with my confidence and my determination intact, and I’ve never wanted to persevere as much as I do in 2017. 2016 was a challenging year but I didn’t allow it to take me down. I went back at it hard and focused on the end goal, which is always to deliver 100%. I made an interesting observation about ones state of mind in tough times. It seems to be so much easier to succumb than to fight back. Well I fought back, I never gave up (there were times when my faith was tested), but if I know nothing else, I know that I must succeed, there is to much at stake for me to crumble.
During the last 6 months of 2016, I had an awakening, I started to see things completely differently, and I started to really feel 2017. I’m not the biggest planner, I tend to wake up and see how I feel, which usually dictates the plan (interesting way to operate as an entrepeneur I hear you say). But it’s how I’ve always done things, and I’m lucky to have a team that flow with the uneven and unpredictable tide. The only plan that I ‘planned’, was to become more aware, more in the moment, and more determined to see only beauty in 2017.
So it’s back to work on the 9th Jan and part of the perseverance plan is to take me and my business to a new level. I have nurtured a great team around me, who are able to take care of themselves, so for me it’s off to have some fun. I’m going inside my creative brain and I am hoping to deliver the most wonderful and innovative designs that can be applied to any surface. I’ve seen a mock up of one design on a variety of surfaces, from bags, to cushion covers, to T-shirts to canvases, and the cliché ‘the sky’s the limit’ has never been more appropriate.
The photos that I took of these mushrooms, made me really think about perseverance. They were growing out of a pile of debris, and yet their determination to show off their beauty and determination, was never going to be impacted by their surroundings. In 2017, I’ll be looking to nature as my constant inspiration, and these photos prove how much inspiration there is all around us, if we just take some time to look.
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.
It’s emails like this that make me so incredibly sad. I can only imagine the desperation, and then the guts to actually write and send this email. I still cannot believe that no other stores get the need for respectfully designed Odd and Plus sizes. Surely I cannot be the only designer, with her own weight issues, that gets it…that thought defies logic.
I am constantly pushing the design boundaries for Plus sizes, because the needs are very different to normal sizes, and you cannot think that you are just going to upsize normal sizes. When designing collections for Hayley Joy, I insist on incorporating styles for all occasions, because this is not the first email like this, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The good news is that T arrived, tried on two different styles, first one was definitely not right, second one was amazing. She shrank in front of my eyes. Her relief was inspiring, and so was her gratitude.
Being able to make a difference and make a living…once again, my gratitude knows no bounds.
A common conversation in Hayley Joy retail is body image. This quote made me start thinking about how every conversation has the same thread…if only I could lose some weight.
Well let’s be honest, by now we do understand that we didn’t arrive at our current weight in one month, so it definitely isn’t going to take one month to lose it. We spend so much unnecessary time obsessing about our size, and what other people think about our size!!
I love walking on the beach, but I don’t love being in a bathing costume, so I don’t walk on the beach. Why? Oh because I think the whole beach is looking at me, well they’re not. They are more likely to be doing a bunch of other things, than they are ever likely to be looking at me. So why do I allow my insecurities to define what I do and don’t do.
I have a very strong opinion about this fact, actually I have two options. The first one is, what makes us think that we are so special that everybody is looking at us, because they aren’t, they are looking at their cellphone screen, scrolling on Facebook…that’s the reality. My second opinion is that if we spent as much time loving ourselves as we do bashing ourselves, we would have so much more time to do the things that make us happy.
In my never ending quest to make women feel better about themselves, I have started to design styles that I would normally never have designed, because I was being led by my assumption that nobody would wear sleeveless, nobody would wear white, nobody would wear anything that wasn’t a traditional cover up for Plus sizes. The response has been phenomenal and I am loving how I’m getting previous stalwarts to shift their emphatic ‘no I will never go sleeveless’, to ‘what the hell, I’m done worrying what everybody thinks’. It is a very important shift for me and my business going forward, because I hold many keys to unlocking self love.
I strive to be the Plus size fashion designer who designs respectful and well fitting fashion, and now I’m taking it a step further and pushing the limits ever so slightly, by designing Odd size and Plus size styles that are not perceived as normal for these sizes.
I’ve designed a fabulous sleeveless swing top sized from S – 7XL, with perfectly engineered armholes, because we don’t get fat in our armholes. I never understand why Plus size armholes are always cut out so deeply, that every bit that we don’t want to stick out, sticks out. I’ve incorporated every design aspect that is required to fit and flatter all shapes and sizes, and every time I see this design on the various body shapes, I gain more confidence to push the design boundary even further.
My design journey is a very inspiring one and it is now becoming a very fulfilling one. More love for ourselves ❤️ Hayley
In the past two weeks, I have come to REALLY understand the law of attraction.
I could never have imagined that putting a picture of myself (very apprehensively), doing Pilates in a pair of Hayley Joy, Plus size, Active wear leggings, would unleash this kind of reaction.
I live my life based on a very simple philosophy…exactly what you put out, is exactly what you get back. I’ve proved it over and over again to myself, that in it’s simplicity, this philosophy is the most simple path to follow, but sometimes the most difficult one to embrace.
I am a Plus size woman, who designs and manufactures Plus size fashion, and yet I struggle to put myself out there as the face of the brand. Why? I don’t have an answer to that question, I guess it’s because I’m a woman with issues, simply put!! But these two weeks have enabled me to have an answer, for what happens when you do put yourself out there, and that is that the rewards are enormous.
I have communicated with women from all over the world, who have come forward and shared their frustrations around being Plus size, and being so frustrated at the lack of availability of respectful Plus size fashion, and especially Plus size Activewear.
I’ve also had an amazingly rewarding time, doing a lot of one-on-one consultations with new clients, who have come to the store because they read my story. I laughed with them, and I cried with them, but most importantly I established a trust with them. In honouring myself, I have proved that I honoured them as women first, and that there is no judgement at Hayley Joy. Your size is of no importance to me, my sole mission is to provide you with a wardrobe of respectfully designed clothing, that makes you feel respected as a woman.
Stepping out of my comfort zone as an entrepreneur is one thing, but it’s stepping out as a woman with body image issues, that has unleashed the greatest rewards of gratitude. I have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of gratitude and it has inspired me to keep pushing the boundaries, because I’ve proved with this new little venture, that there are no limits, the only limits are the ones we put on ourselves.
I am in awe of the gratitude. Thank you to all of you who have supported my quest to make a difference, and there are MANY of you.
Honoured and privileged for the acknowledgement and affirmation, for my commitment to making a difference in the lives of women, of all shapes and sizes.
My committment to changing perceptions about Odd and Plus sizes, is unwavering, and this is a wonderful reward for that commitment, from The Saturday Star.
I am so grateful for my ability to design and manufacture ranges of clothing, that make a difference in the lives of so many women. Together with my amazing team, I am living a dream that has no limits.
With our newly launched online store http://hayleyjoy.com my dream of reaching so many more of you is such a wonderful reality.
I enjoy leading and learning, and am privileged to have nurtured a team, who are comfortable to give me constructive feedback that I continuously learn from.
Allowing my team members to express themselves and to actively participate in making decisions about fabric, designs and the final look and feel of collections, has proved to me that the Boss doesn’t always have to make all the decisions. Some of our most successful designs have come from input from the seamstresses who vary in age from 30 – 60 years old.
For so long I did this alone, now working as a team, is so much more rewarding than working solo.
Signing up to a random iPhone photography course has opened me up to a whole new world, one that enables me to combine my love for natures beauty, with my love for fashion design.
I have a really beautiful garden that I used to spend very little time in, it was never a priority…and then I started taking photos of everything and anything, and now I spend every available moment, zooming in on all this incredible beauty that surrounds me.
My mom-in-law, who is a landscaper, has planted some very special roses for me. My most favourite is a rose called Peace. It reminds me of a marshmallow. The colours are so soft and the scent is beautiful.
I had a reward of two beautiful flowers at the same time, and have had the most inspiring time editing them for all different uses.
In light of the craziness that has happened in the world this last week I share with you my magnificent Peace rose.