In a fashion world of stick-thin models and unrealistic ideals, two women in Brevard County are disrupting the status quo with Society+ (www. societyplus.com), a plus-size fashion brand breaking all the rules. They have created an investor-backed “It” brand by leveraging a social media following of over 300,000 and dressing celebrities like break-out star Chrissy Metz from the NBC sitcom “This Is Us.”
SCL: How did you take a plus-size fashion startup and build a business with a cult following in such a short amount of time?
MICHELLE: After working for large companies in marketing and product development, I left the workplace to have my children. I planned to return, but I wanted to create the job that I wanted to have. So, I took my skill set, looked at the information available in several fields and I identified retail. It’s one of those segments that were about to go under massive change.
SCL: Retail is very challenging, especially as a startup.
MICHELLE: We just threw away the fashion playbook and did what we knew needed to be done. What do plus-size women want that everyone is ignoring because the fashion world thinks they know better? That’s why our business is lead by a plus-size blogger (Jessica Kane) and we work with bloggers on collections and feature actual plus-size women in our photos, which is unique in the industry. Plus-size fashion bloggers have armies of followers for a reason; it’s because they represent the future of fashion.
JESSICA: Exactly! After 10 years working in the plus industry as a blogger, I can promise you that women are ready, and they are ready now. By the tens of millions they are saying, “No more. If a large retailer will accept my money to shop for my kitchen, my business, my children, my travel, my home, but won’t put effort in a basic need such as clothing for me, I am no longer going to accept that. My money is power and I’ll support businesses that support me – all of me.” This is why I cast models that are visibly plus sized from sizes 18 to 32 and we do not edit the image. At Society+ we don’t aspire to an unrealistic body size/type but instead aspire to true confidence.
SCL: How do you go about finding the models you use?
JESSICA: Since we are featuring models over a size 14, we have to be more creative with how we find them! Modeling agencies only have women sizes 8-16 in their plus division, and our smallest size would barely fit their largest model. Instead of just doing what’s easy and using those models, we decided to work with bloggers and customers to model our clothes. These are the women we design for, so it’s a perfect partnership. We feel it’s our duty to represent more than just one kind of plus-size body and it’s our honor because the loyalty we are shown for this choice is what makes the difference.
SCL: Who designs your clothes and where can someone buy them?
JESSICA: Jessica leads the design and fit process of our styles and incorporates feedback from our social media network and data from previous sales during the sample process. We love connecting with our customers and hearing what they want and making it happen. This all means you can’t find our styles anywhere else and in our size range of 14-32. (Most plus retailers stop at a 24 or 28.) Because of this, we have had quite a response from retailers and box services wanting to carry Society+. Right now you can find us in various brick-and-mortar boutiques and on our ecommerce site at societyplus.com.
SCL: What is next for Society+?
JESSICA: Just world domination! *laughter*
MICHELLE: Yes, we’re excited to be a part of the transformation of the retail landscape. The way people buy clothes is fundamentally changing. Jessica and I have big plans for Society+. If the last two years are an indicator, we know we are on to something huge! We’re just getting started and we invite everyone to join our army on social media at www. instagram.com/societyplus and www.facebook.com/ SocietyPlusDotCom on Facebook.