It’s been a long time in the making, and now that it’s a reality, I wonder what took me so long! Launching a Plus Size Youtube channel http://bit.ly/2AU1ZPN is my 2019 commitment… and my why is all about introducing Plus size women, far and wide, to the Hayley Joy brand, of respectful Plus size fashion.
The beautiful Reana and I talking about how to wear print if you’re a 6XL
For far to long I’ve heard the same story about the frustration around Plus Size shopping, and that frustration is 100% justified. I’m a Plus size myself, and I know how it feels to go into a store when they’ve advertised that they stock Plus sizes, and not one thing fits. It’s disrespectful and soul-destroying.
Dressing a variety of sizes and shapes is a very big part of our beautiful world at Hayley Joy.
My commitment at Hayley Joy is to honour my Plus size truth. The entire store is filled with fashion that fits, no matter your size or your shape. I’ve also realised that in order for you to have the confidence to walk through the door, you need to see the clothes on real Plus size women, and that’s why I’ve launched a YouTube channel, showcasing the beautiful REAL women we dress at Hayley Joy.
Arlene and I talking about embracing colour, no matter your size or your shape.
Today I put a post on Facebook about maths not being my strong point. Judging by the many supportive comments and private messages, I thought it a good opportunity to do some deeper explaining.
This is a story about “Me and Maths” (I averaged 16% until I was able to drop it as a subject. Maybe if I loved it, like I love iPhoneart, I would have nailed it. Definitely something in that, about the things I nail, and the things I don’t).
Designing for Plus sizes, has many challenges, the biggest one for me being the fact that I don’t upsize regular sizes. I have created an exclusive Plus size basic block range of patterns, based on my Plus size body. Every single style that we design and manufacture at Hayley Joy, must be able to be sized from a small to a 7XL…AND…it must be as flattering on both sides of the size spectrum.
There are designs that float around in my head constantly, that never make it into the range because there is to much “maths” involved. I do have a mental block when it comes to me having to look at measurements and style lines from a mathematical perspective. I see it in my head perfectly, and I can hand draw it onto pattern paper, but it doesn’t work that way when there are 10 sizes to be made in every design.
Today was the day to break the “fear of maths” shackle!
2019 is going to be the year that I stretch myself on many levels…AND…I have committed to myself, that I’m going to follow through on every single one of these mental block situations that I have. No more hiding behind “maths is not my strong point” scenarios.
Soooooooo, this new design is one of those that only I can take on, because my brain thinks in Plus sizes, and most importantly designs in Plus sizes. This particular design is the beginnings of a new jacket design, and that piece in the picture is going to form a very over the top, collar/lapel detail. How full, how wide, how long are all incredibly important considerations, because when you take that concept and project it onto regular sizes, you can be generous and get away with it, but when you’re projecting that detail onto a 5, 6 and 7XL, there are very, very different considerations.
I booked time off, took a deep breath, and put myself to work on the pattern table, where I haven’t been for a long time, because to be honest, if I couldn’t get the design out of my brain, and onto the pattern paper, because it involved maths, then I procrastinated it to the point where it never happened. Well I’m done with procrastination and I’m most certainly done with holding myself back.
I nailed it and in doing so I’ve opened doors to other things that have been lurking in my “to-do” brain.
The aim of this blog post, is to inspire you to take on that self-inflicted hurdle, that limits a whole world that could open up for you.
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.
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’m of that age where the simplest, smallest thing makes me stop and reflect on the amazing world we live in.
I subscribe to many different business and fashion publications, and over the last couple of days all I’ve read about is doom and gloom in the retail sector. I agree that fashion retail is facing challenging times, but I still maintain that as long as humans have a heart and a soul, they are going to want to interact with other humans. I think the secret is in creating an environment that is unique, special, interesting and most importantly welcoming.
The world is so much smarter, and so much more convenient, and so many more people are shopping online. How do you stay afloat in these interesting times?
You assume nothing and you stick to what has always worked. For Hayley Joy, it’s a combination of respectful sizing and exceptionally respectful service.
I had a moment today when I sorted out the paperwork with the courier who collects our online parcels. He was busy filling in the waybill slips, and I stood looking at him, thinking to myself, that this man is the amazing conduit between my clients and I. He seamlessly arrives twice a day, picks up my parcels, and magically they are delivered the next day, all over the country. I’ve never really stopped to think how far we’ve evolved in seamless service. Back in the day you would pack a parcel, get in your car, drive to a post office, stand in a queue, book it in, and have no clue when it would reach its destination. Now I’m pretty much guaranteed that it will be there the next day.
Taking Hayley Joy online has been a very interesting experience, and the ease that online affords you, to reach clients who cannot physically come to the store, is the thing that has really excited me. For so many years I would get desperate emails from all over the country, begging for access to real Plus sizes.
Creating an online store wasn’t easy, because this is not a run of the mill product that you put online and wait for somebody to buy. I suddenly had to start convincing new clients, that my sizing is genuine Plus sizes. The trauma around the lack of decent Plus size clothing has inspired me to keep creating, to keep honouring and to keep flying the flag for genuine Plus sizes, and in this very smart world we live in, that dream becomes easier and easier to become a reality.
The smart world excites me and at 52 years old I am in the perfect position to take Hayley Joy to the next level, and debunk all the doom and gloom about retail. I’m so up for the challenge.
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.
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.