Chubstr Crush features profiles and conversations with women who inspire us. This week we speak with Annie Maribona and Carlee Smith, owners of Portland, Oregon plus size clothing boutique Fat Fancy.
How long have you been in business?
Annie: Since December of 2007 – I cleaned out everything in my apartment and brought in clothes for the first sale and advertised on the internet and a lot of people came and bought clothing. From there we moved to my friend’s basement where Carlee and I started a store. We had monthly sales to raise money to get a real store. We never paid ourselves anything and we put it toward creating a store that offers clothing that’s affordable and unique for bigger women. We got the real store in December of 2009. We still work our day jobs and we work really hard, but we’re really happy to be here and we feel like what we’re doing is important and necessary.
Carlee: We’re really fortunate to be in a city like Portland with such a strong fat activist community. We feel really supported and encouraged by the community. It’s the perfect place to have like a radical plus size clothing store. There are people here who really appreciate it and are out, visible fat people that are proud to be who they are. There are also strong, community-minded fat people who are all about supporting local businesses, so this city is kind of a perfect place for it. I think that more cities could be, they just have to be introduced to the idea – a lot of places aren’t that fat friendly.
Annie: I think for me the number one barrier is just being working class and finding the time, money, and energy to balance everything.
Carlee: The internet has been instrumental in helping us grow. We’ve had international press and TV exposure but because the reverberations of that are online, it made what we’ve done a worldwide thing. People have found us through those things, and it’s really helped us a lot.
Carlee: We don’t buy directly from manufacturers, so almost everything you find here is second hand. We have one or two people who design clothes and we carry their clothing, but it’s not like we’re buying from a distributor or company. We do a little bit of wholesale and a little bit of consignment. We’re planning to do buy/sell/trade in the future. There’s more to that, but we want to do it.
You had me at western shirts.
Carlee:I think that really ties in with us being a safe place for people. We want it to be a place for all people to come and shop, no matter what they’re looking for. We welcome everyone who comes to the store and wants to shop here. It’s hard for someone who might be male gendered to go into a mainstream store and try on female gendered clothing. It can be scary and traumatic. We don’t want to be that kind of place that pushes people away, and it’s not who we are anyway.
You’re working on a new site and you plan to sell clothing online soon. Where are things at with that?
Annie: We’ve got a project up on Indie Go Go to help institute online sales, begin an in-store buy/sell/trade policy and create a part time job to manage it all. People can donate to the project on Indie Go Go right here.