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.
Being able to share this print journey with you, from a photo taken by me on my iPhone, to a complete garment, is indeed a very special moment.
This is a print journey that starts with an out of focus orange Gazania Daisy taken in my garden, and ends in a fabric print that I’m so incredibly proud of. I spent days figuring out a way to get to the final result, and I do think that I went to the moon and back…probably unnecessarily…but it was sooooo worth the result, considering I don’t really know very much about fabric design. What I do know though, is that you don’t have to be clever, you just have to be determined!
So what to do with an out of focus photo? I’ve been incredibly lucky to be part of the iPhone Photography School, and have been introduced to so many amazing apps, that are available to us all via the App Store. As I was about to delete the photo, I changed my mind and converted the ‘bad photo’ to black and white. Violá, totally blown away, I loved that the sprinklings of pollen looked like glitter.
Whilst playing around in numerous apps I tried a mosaic effect, but I realised that it’s very in your face, so I carried on experimenting, and then happened upon a grunge filter which was perfect.
On my buying trips to Hong Kong, I used to see these kinds of prints, in these grunge colours, and I so yearned for somebody to import them into South Africa. I was just never able to get any of the importers to understand the need for these kinds of prints. Being able to design them myself, and print them, and then manufacture collections out of them, is down to pure determination.
I’m passionate about Roses and could quite happily put them on every future print. I took a photo of a beautiful pink rose in my garden, and put it through the same grunge process.
I then went on an editing journey that took a very long time, actually an insanely long time, because I’m such a perfectionist. I’ve come to realise though, that if I want perfection, I’m going to have to learn patience.
Placing the roses perfectly in the lines of the mosaic was a mammoth undertaking, but I taught myself how to do it and this Grunge Rose print is the result.
I’ve printed it in plain, and then I had some real fun with it in my numerous apps, and I came up with some fun prints by adding coloured hearts. Hearts and roses work really well for me, they make me happy.
Red hearts and Grunge roses
Turquoise hearts and Grunge roses
Knowing that this process starts with a plain piece of white fabric, and in a couple of hours it’s printed fabric, and in another couple of hours, it’s a fabulous Plus size, Miracle shape top, makes me a very happy fabric designer, and an even happier fashion designer. I now have access to anything and everything I dream of, because if I dream it, I can now have it.
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.
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 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.