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.
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 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.
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.
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.
I’m so proud of this incredibly rewarding shape. It allows me to accomodate all shapes and sizes, with the confidence that I need, to be able to convince my clients that I really do understand their needs.
So what exactly are the needs of a Plus size women? They’re actually pretty simple if you understand the requirements of a Plus size shape. Being Plus size myself, qualifies me to REALLY understand the needs.
When I started out designing this shape, the first thing that I created was a basic shape that had shape. In my experience on the floor in the store, I came to understand that we don’t put weight on in our shoulders, and we have a waist, yes we really do!
I’ve taken this basic shape and interpreted many different styles onto it, and I love the response that they all get. This past Saturday in the store, really affirmed for me, how perfect this shape is for my market. I’ve built shape into the waist, and given the tummy, hips and behind the correct amount of swing, in order to flatter all shapes.
My reward for the commitment to attempting to accomodate all shapes and sizes is the gratitude received from all of you who wear this wonderful style.
We have a variety of different styles of the Miracle Shape top in store, and online at www.hayleyjoy.com. I’m sharing some of my favourites with you.
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.