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Plus-size

To expand or not to expand (pardon the pun)

 

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This is me, in one of my favourite looks…all black with a pop of colour.

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…

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All of me focused, is so much better than none of me focused.

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.

Hayley Joy colour and symbol labels.
A Shape not a Size, taking the stigma out of sizing.

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.

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My production manager Tina, and I, planning a fabulous new dress style.

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.

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I’m this hands on!!

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.

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This says it all!

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.

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Online orders, on their way to fulfilling my Shape journey.

 

❤ Hayley

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Welcome to my Shape Evolution, it’s all about a Shape, not a Size.

EMPOWERING WOMEN OF ALL SIZES.

Hayley Joy colour and symbol labels.
A Shape not a Size.

In a bold move, I opted to remove all the sizes from the labels in my garments, and replace them with shapes.

 

A Small at Hayley Joy is now a Lilac Square
We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a Small is now a Lilac Square.

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.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a Medium is now a Yellow Diamond.

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.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a Large is now an Orange Crown.

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?”

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, an XL is now a Lime Flower.

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.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a 2XL is now a Pink Heart.

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.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a 3XL is now a Turquoise Bow.

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.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a 4XL is now a Red Star.

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.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a 5XL is now an Emerald Triangle.

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.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a 6XL is now a Blue Circle.

Welcome to my Shape Revolution.

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We’re shaping not sizing at Hayley Joy, a 7XL is now a Purple Triangle.

❤ Hayley Joy

Hayley Joy colour and symbol labels.
A Shape not a Size.

Determination and Perseverance.

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.

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Determination.

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.

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Against all odds.

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.

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No limit is to dream. Anything is possible.

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.

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Reflections.

❤ Hayley

Reflecting and Projecting

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.

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A certificate that makes me really proud.

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.

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I love these words.

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.

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One of my favourite photos on my new iPhone photography journey.

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.

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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.

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Future fabric inspiration from my magnificent Jacaranda tree in my garden.

❤ Hayley

I’ve discovered that there is a difference between being lucky, and being blessed with luck.

I get really, really irritated when people tell me how lucky I am to have my own business, be my own boss, have my own choices blah, blah, blah. I’ve decided to become ‘unirritated’ and choose to accept that I’m incredibly blessed with luck. Blessed to do what I love, blessed to make a difference, and especially blessed to work with some of the most amazing women.

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I’m going to be featuring some of those amazing women through 2017. I thought I should kick off the initiative by featuring a woman who inspires me, who makes me so proud to dress her, and a woman we should all know about because she embraces who she is…very proudly.

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Mari Lee is the founder and CEO of DevCom, a company that prides itself on creating a direct link between effective communication, and achieving business objectives. Mari has 18 years experience in development, project management and strategic projects.

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Dressing Mari is inspiring on so many levels. I’ve dressed her personally, I’ve dressed her team for corporate events, and every time I work with DevCom, I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have such grateful and loyal clients…and very lucky too!

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Mari shared these photos with me, and has graciously consented to me sharing them with all of you.

❤ Hayley

 

Floating – a series of future fabric prints, designed by Hayley Joy, for Hayley Joy.

I’m combining my passion for fashion, with my passion for print. Welcome to the beginning of my print journey. I hope you enjoy the evolution of my next venture of developing exclusive fabric prints, for my in store, and online Hayley Joy collections.

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Hibiscus flower, my inspiration for the print series called Floating.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a dream to design my own fashion fabric prints. For the last five years I’ve been privileged to have a wonderful partner in China, who allowed me the freedom to design my own fabric collections. The only drawback was that I had to use existing prints, that I could tweak colours and layouts of, in order to allow me to order smaller quantities, rather than the usual 1000 metres per colour, per print.

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Edited Hibiscus flower providing the inspiration for the ‘Floating’ series of fabric prints.

2017 is the year that’s going to allow me the opportunity to design and print my own exclusive designs, in any quantity I desire.

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Now we’re  really ‘Floating’

I’m taking my love for flowers, and my new found passion for editing photos with a variety of mind blowing apps, and I’m creating a series of prints, that will  become future fabrics, exclusively for my Hayley Joy Collections.

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Striped Petals

This first series is called FLOATING. The original photo is a Hibiscus flower taken in my garden with my iPhone.

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Pretty Petals

❤️ Hayley

 

 

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‘Floating Petals’

The endless possibilities of the Miracle Shape top.

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.

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Miracle Shape top with Daisy detail.

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!

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Miracle Shape top in Multi coloured animal print.

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.

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Miracle Shape top Zig Zag multi floral angle top.

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.

❤️ Hayley

 

This should sooooo not be happening!

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.

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A desperate plea for help.

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.
❤️ Hayley

Manufacturing privilege.

I am so privileged to have my own factory. Manufacturing my own collections, allows me so many freedoms to do things that I would never be able to do, if I was bound to outsourced production.

I am able to respond to the needs in my retail store, as and when they occur. When I bought this range of prints, it was this red print that really stood out, and I knew it would sell out fast, I just didn’t expect it to sell out in a day!

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Red African print Mracle Shape top.

I was lucky enough to be able to get more fabric, and the next morning, all other production was put on hold, and we cut another range of Miracle shape tops, and they were in store two days later. It still gives me goosebumps, 30 years later, that we can respond the way we do.

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Production on the rail, always a welcome sight in Hayley Joy production.

I often feel like a live in a fashion dream world, because in the real world  you wouldn’t be able to repeat on demand. I have geared my production, so that there is always room to change the plan. I like that we can, it may not always make good business sense, but it sure keeps things interesting.

Walking into Hayley Joy production, is like walking into a sweet factory for me. Seeing the stock hanging on the rails is a moment I always cherish. I have a wonderful team, a beautiful working space and a job that I love with everything I have. I make clothes and I make a difference, my perfect combination.

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