I often used to joke that if I had my life over, I would have chosen fabric design rather than dress design, because my frustration in my line of work, has always been my inability to buy prints that I can see so clearly in my head.
Being a Plus size myself, and designing for Plus sizes, means that I have a pretty good idea of what works in terms of prints.
My aim on my new fabric design journey, is to debunk the theory that Plus size women don’t do colour, and that they don’t do bold, because they do, and my sales statistics prove exactly that.
So with my passion burning, I have realised my dream, and am designing and printing my own designs, that have been carefully thought through. I want to offer exclusive designs that have never been seen before, and I want extraordinary, because it’s time.
It’s been a really interesting experience, because I’ve designed so many potential prints that have ended up being deleted. Having the luxury of being able to print a sample, and see the print before it physically goes into production, means that I have complete control over the quality and design of the print and the colours. I’m also able to test the market by making a sample first, and I’ve loved the response to the sample made up in this design. I’ve had to put a note on it saying “Sample only, not for sale!”
I cannot even begin to explain the feeling I had two weeks ago, when I saw my fabric design dream come true.
I had plain white fabric at 9am, I had my own exclusive print at 11am and I had my first Hayley Joy original at 1pm.
This wonderful Lime Green print with so many design options makes me so proud. I spent a long time creating it, because I knew what I wanted. I just had to teach myself how to create it.
There are no limits to dream and I’m dreaming very, very big.
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.
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.
My Plus size fashion journey is about to take on a whole new direction.
I don’t believe in coincidences, but I most definitely believe in destiny. Signing up to do a random photography course five months ago has set me on a life changing path with destiny, that is going to explode on so many levels in 2017. I love how quickly my eye has become trained, to see a photographic opportunity in every single thing I see. Whilst packing a pink mesh Miracle jacket, into a lime green carrier bag, for a client, I knew I needed to take a photograph. She looked at me a little strangely…
I then explained that I’m on a design journey, that is going to culminate in me designing my own exclusives fabric prints for my Hayley Joy collections. I’ve embarked on an amazing journey and am in awe of what is achievable.
The capabilities of an iPhone and the endless supply of apps has been mind blowing for me from a design perspective. However, if I’m going to achieve the ultimate in fabric design, I’m going to need to know a bit more….sooooooo…it’s back to school in the new year. Time to go and learn all about graphic design, so that we can step and repeat our prints perfectly.
When I look at these designs that I’ve created from a simple jacket in a packet, I get all tingly, because I know that 6 months from now, I’ll look at them, and know that going back to ‘school’ was a very good idea. But for now, if this was all I was able to accomplish, I’d be happy, because I absolutely love the resulting prints gained from my ‘jacket in a packet’ photograph.
I never tire of designing in Black and White. It’s always appealing, and always striking. When this fabric arrived, i knew that it was perfectly suited to the new Angle Miracle top. There is a whole lot of shaping going on in this top, and that’s what HJ is all about at the moment. It fits and flatters perfectly, and draws the attention to the waist area, which by now, you know, that I know, that that’s what we need to be focussing on…your waist shape.
Every season there is a style that makes me extra proud of what we design and manufacture in HJ production. This Miracle twinset has been sooooooo rewarding. It is unbelievably flattering, and I love the look on clients faces when they see themselves in it. I’m so loving selling it, that I have planned a new cutting order, in some new fun prints that I bought yesterday.