1. When did you become involved in the plus-size industry?
My first job was at a VERY cheesy store that sold urban-styled plus size clothing called Dots. I worked there on the side to get some clothing retail experience. Even though I had crazy purple hair and wore some 6" goth platforms, the full figured ladies that shopped there responded to my outlandish fashion sense with such gusto that I knew I was in the right place.
2. How did you break into the plus-size industry, and was it difficult?
From then, I worked at a well known plus retailer and as I graduated from college, I actively pursued a career in buying through this company. Let's just say that while the store gave an impression of plus size body images, their buying staff was very thin and seemingly unhappy to have a girl of size trying to squeeze into their club. I was constantly recommended for the job and flown out several times...and each time I felt brushed aside and looked down on. It was very difficult and discouraging at first, but that's how I ended up finding Versatile Fashions. They created custom corsetry and fetish wear for all sizes and genders...it was very empowering and I knew that not all brands would be so close-minded.
3. What made you want to become apart of the plus-size industry?
I'm a big girl! Haha...so it's partly selfish. I've always been fairly comfortable about my size, as it was something genetic that I was never going to be able to change. I wanted gorgeous clothing and I was going to fight to make it happen!
4. Do you think the plus-size market is under-served by the fashion sector, if so why?
I do, but I think it's because fat people aren't respected in our culture. Many companies will MAKE plus size clothing because it's all about the $$, but they rarely feel motivated to make something fashionable, as most don't see that fat people CAN be fashionable. It saves a lot of production time and money to make basics and call it a day. And in the end: these will sell because not only is there nothing else out there, but because people are taught they don't DESERVE to be gorgeous if they are fat.
5. How do you feel about the fashion available to plus-size women, do you think it could be improved?
I think that plus-size fashion has grown leaps and bounds thanks to some amazing companies, such as Jibri, and Stefanie Bezaire, but there is always room for improvement. I come from alternative fashion communities that are INSANELY under served and in total need of some chic gear! You can't just grab a tent shirt, and throw a cheesy skull on it people!
I love Tracy's unique and edgy style!
6. Do you think there should be a division in fashion stores, i.e straight sized vs plus-sized?
I dream for the day that you can walk into a store and it's just customary for a rack to go from XXS to XXXXL, but right now most assume that if a brand carries plus sizes, it will be in a separate section. So while I don't love that it's a bit ostracizing, but I understand why it's done.
7. What inspires you within the plus-size industry?
Personal style has always been far more exciting to me than what magazines or mannequins portray. The girls that have scraped, stitched, cut, finagled, and altered clothing to make unique, amazing pieces to wear when nothing existed are so inspiring. The fatshion community online is full of these amazing woman who defy the world's view of body size and style and THAT is truly what stores should be looking at. Real life applications are the best way to see what works for fat bodies!
8. Do you think there is a lack of plus-size role models, within the mainstream media?
Of course. The media archetype of the fat girl, is the funny best friend, never sexual or fashionable is still pretty prevalent. Kelly Osbourne once said that it was more accepted to be a drug addict than fat. As with the clothing options, I think the visibility is getting better thanks to some amazing ladies like Gabourey Sidibe, but media still has a long way to go.
9. What are your thoughts or views of the plus-size industry?
Money talks. Business will grow and thrive when supportive, creative companies are given your dollars instead of shops that refuse to push the boundaries. It's worth it to give small businesses and fat positive places your $$ because other businesses will follow suit. Most of them will LOVE fat people if it makes them rich =)
It seems ridiculous, but it's really true. If they thought billboards with chubby girls in bikinis would sell 1,000,000 bikinis, they'd have NO problem doing it. We have to convince them that's true!
10. And finally, what advice would you give to women who would like to break in to the plus-size industry?
No job is too small. It's great to get involved with the customers first at a retail store because it gives you amazing insight into what people want, what they are afraid of, how they feel...then take that knowledge either to your own thing or to corporate America! Read blogs and examine style, of all sizes and do not be afraid to experiment with your own style. And most of all: hard work REALLY pays off.
Go check out Tracy's awesome blog : http://chubblebubbleblog.blogspot.com/
And her amazing online store : http://www.dominodollhouse.com/
Check out the article I wrote about the PSI for more information : http://ohlalacurves.blogspot.com/2010/08/plus-size-industry-examined-plus-size.html
What would you change about the Plus-Size Industry?
Drop me a comment, and let me know!