Question: Gabi, the big question that springs to my mind is how did you start building your brand? How did you go about it and how do you think it’s become so successful?
Gabi Fresh: I started my blog in 2008 and it was the first plus-sized fashion blog in the US that focused on personal style. It spread really quickly, just through word of mouth, because it was filling a niche that nobody was talking about back then.
I think a lot of it had to do with timing, and on top of that, I’ve always been super authentic. Back then, I didn’t know it was even possible to earn money from it; it was really a passion project. I was just sick of not being represented and I didn’t feel like there were any outlets for me. The magazines and media that were talking about plus-sized women, I felt like they were targeting older women. I was like, I’m 21, where are the resources for someone my age who really wants to participate in the younger fashion trends and runway trends?
Within a few months, I was on Good Morning America, the New York Times, and from there it just grew really organically.
Question: You’re the new faces of Simply Be, can you tell us how that came about?
Iskra Lawrence: I’ve been modelling in the SB catalogues and I think they just saw how much I love the brand. I really believe in it. The fact that, yes, you can dress trendy, you can dress cool, you can dress feminine—there’s all these different styles that you can find at Simply Be that doesn’t make you feel like you’re segregated and you’re part of fashion and it doesn’t matter what size you are.
Gabi Fresh: It has such a good size range, it’s amazing. I’ve worked with the team before as a blogger on campaigns, but this is my first TV advert, so I’m really excited about that. I’ve always loved the brand; it’s been around for a while, like back when I was blogging before. Since then, so many brands have launched plus-sized ranges, but Simply Be has been among the first that really offered us fashion forward options. I’ve always been one of their biggest fans, so when they approached me to do this, it was a no brainer.
Gabi Fresh and Iskra Lawrence on the Term ‘Plus-Sized’
Question: How do you girls both feel about the term plus sized?
Iskra Lawrence: I think it’s such an individual thing, some people love the fact that they have a label that they feel they can put their stamp on and own. It is so individual and I love that I’m seeing more women of diverse size, and if that’s what pushes it forward, then let’s do it. It’s all about trying to make it more inclusive and make fashion accessible for every woman.
Gabi Fresh: I always look at the term plus sized or even fat as a descriptive term, for me it’s just an easy way to find clothing, right? For those of us that are plus sized, we need to know where to shop; if I’m looking for clothing, I need to know where to go. So I think it’s just useful and functional.
Question: Talking of body-shaming, have you both experienced that online? And how do you deal with it?
Gabi Fresh: Something weird about me is that I just don’t care. But I do understand why it affects people. I have many friends who are very affected by it. I just have a very thick skin when it comes to internet trolls <laughs>. I remind myself that they are living a very sad life and are projecting a lot of it on to me. They can’t say anything I haven’t said to myself and I know they’re not happy.
Also, I’ll go onto Beyonce’s Instagram page and see everyone is leaving such horrible comments, and I think, if they can say this about Beyonce, then nobody is perfect enough, right?! People are always going to say things, which makes me feel better.
Iskra Lawrence: Yeah, the fact I got over my own demons and I’ve battled myself in the mirror, so really, I’m my toughest enemy and I’ve managed to get over that.
For their part, both Iskra Lawrence and Gabi Fresh are looking to change the industry’s standards on body types by showcasing “real sizes.” With their Simply Be campaign, they are not only sending out a positive message for women everywhere, but they are showing the fashion world how important it is to showcase sizes that are different from what people call the right standard.