Fashion School Series Part 1: Rejection

They say that hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes looking back on past events you can pin-point and exact decision or moment that your entire life changed or shifted.

The first time I realized this was when I was 21, looking back on my college experience. Like every fashion design student my dream was to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. If you went to FIT you were going to make it- that was the mutual understanding: you would be among the elite fashion designers in the world. When the rejection letter came in the mail and it hit me like a brick to the face! My dreams had just been crushed! Then another rejection letter came, and then another! No one wanted me! I felt hopeless and utter shock! How was I going to pursue my dream of becoming a plus size fashion designer if no one would give me the chance?

I applied not only to FIT, (Fashion Institute of Technology) but also to Parsons: The New School of Design: Tim Gunn’s school. (Now Project Runway at the time had only aired its 1st season back in 06 or 07′- and did not have the following it has today- and I was only 16 and could not apply!) When that second, third and forth rejection letters barreled through my door, I couldn’t believe it! So upset at myself. I was convinced that all of my self taught efforts had been for nothing! I should have been so proud of myself; I learned so much on my own, even made my own prom gowns without any formal training and here I was being told I wasn’t good enough.

Not going to college was not an option- I wanted that college experience and I wanted to learn what I knew others could teach me about my craft. I mean I could always just transfer right? Begrudgingly I also submitted an application to a local private college (my mothers alma mater) Mount Ida College in Newton MA.  And don’t you know I was accepted! Now I wasn’t thrilled to receive the acceptance- but I was relieved that at least I could go somewhere. I just wanted someone to give me a chance.

I just have a stick it out a year- I don’t have to stay, I told myself. The school was smaller, and local (only 40 minutes from my home town). If I just stayed a year, I could reapply and transfer to my dream school- FIT. To my surprise, I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. My freshman class of designers had 35 students (this was a huge number of designers!) It was eye opening that some of the students I met had never sewed before in their lives! I thought- how could you want to be a fashion designer and have never sewed before? Well I guess you have to start sometime! Other classmates I met, even went to a high school that offered fashion design! Now I was impressed- I only wished I would have had that available to me!

Now I couldn’t decide if I was ahead or behind? I was so confused. The whole point of going to college was to be taught. I left my interview at FIT (I knew I blew it the moment I walked out of that door) feeling totally disheartened and frustrated. All of the other applicants I spoke too seemed to be almost twice my age, and have degrees in other subjects. Should I have been this accomplished before even applying? I didn’t get it.

The discovery that changed everything was that my current local small college offered a double major program. This was a new opportunity that might not be available to me elsewhere. I was already enrolled at the college, on my way to one degree, but why not go for two? Many students who graduate with a fashion design degree walk across that stage thinking that they are the next Valentino or Dior, and often that isn’t the case; not by a long shot. Fashion Design students (regardless of which college) tend to get slammed back into reality of the real world of fashion; interning, production, management, international business, marketing etc. Its much more then I think most bargain for.

This double major for me was a game changer. What if I could get a degree in not only fashion design, but fashion merchandising and marketing? I could learn not only how to make clothing, but how to sell it to! This lit my fire! My goal was always to make a living doing what I love, and this opportunity was another way to get there. And if I decided to continue onto graduate school, my merchandising degree would open that door, should I ever choose to walk through it.

My life changed the moment I decided I would stay at Mount Ida and work to receive two degrees in four years! Yes that’s right, 2 degrees in 4 years. I made a plan, and with some luck and careful consideration, executed it. Now I was one of Mount Ida’s first ever double majors to graduate in the history of the college (graduating mind you, with over 230 credits ((the average major is about 125)) and I might add, with a 3.9 GPA (Suck it doubters!)

The double major was a huge factor but it wasn’t everything. I had truly found an amazing support system. I was far enough away from home that I felt I had true independence, but close enough that I was only a short car ride away.  The longer I stuck with fashion design, the fewer and fewer designers remained. Remember that I told you we started with 35? Well out of those 35, we graduated only 8! EIGHT! Including me! Fashion is one of those majors with huge drop out rates; once students realize the long studio classes and work involved after hours, it becomes too demanding and too much.

Fashion design is not like Project Runway, you don’t just get some money, go to Mood Fabrics, and whip up a nice dress in an hour. Its measurements, and fit, and mathematics, and entire world of fabrications and technology, etc. I could go on for hours! It takes hours upon hours of hard work, endless sleepless nights, seam rippers and yards upon yards of fabric, and dedication. And sometimes, you have to just make it again. It really is blood, sweat and tears; but those who persevere and have the tenacity to endure, will succeed.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be during my time at Mount Ida I would meet a professor who would become the gateway to my now full time job in fashion. If I had changed schools, I life would have ended up drastically different. I wouldn’t have the day job I have now, working in men’s big and tall fashion in international business, global sourcing and product development. And for sure I would not have two degrees like I do now. I wouldn’t have met the same people, networked and push my career forward in its current direction.

I also might not have had the confidence to do what I love, despite the world telling me that I wasn’t good enough. In the word’s of Jim Carey- during a graduation speech he gave..” the eyes are not only viewers, but they are projectors, and the title of that story is, I’ll never be enough”. The world will always be telling you why you can’t do, what you can’t have etc. You have to decide to not give a shit and do it anyway. Go ahead and doubt me, you just make me want it that much more.  And again in the word’s of Jim Cary.. “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love”.

I am not a believer in fate, only in choice; cause and effect. But sometimes what looks like a set back or a major disappointment is really one door closing and another opening. Its hard to see at the time in this moment, but trust in yourself and in the process. You will get where you need to be, it just might not have been the way you intended; and that’s OK. My first life lesson: Success is not a straight road.

Thanks so much for reading! Did you have a college experience that way similar? Did you overcome people telling you no? I would love to see you comment!

Want to check out what I am doing now? Sign up for my bi monthly newsletter and get all the details and updates! Sign up here! www.rose-riot.com

-A

 

Holiday Dresses you can’t live without!

Hello! First I want to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday! Happy belated Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, or whatever which holiday you plan on celebrating- have a happy one!

New Years always seems to be the time for a little extra glimmer and glamour in your life! I always had a hard time with trying to find something to wear and that fit! Plus Size shopping, especially around the holidays was always challenging- but now there are many different options out there!

Some of my favorites are from Eloquii and Torrid. I just love a little shimmer and shine! Get the Eloquii look here! Get the Torrid look here!

holiday dresses

This sequined fabric seems to be the fabric and shine of the season this year! The placement on the Torrid dress is nice because its beneath the waist and the bow adds a hint of cute! I have had a similar dress in the past but the sequins were at the bust, and it scratched up my arms! Not cute.

The Eloquii dress has a shine to it, but it is part of the fabric, in small coated squares, almost giving off a reptile look. I am not one that likes to wear a totally bare shoulder dress- but if this is you look- you rock it! I prefer straps myself. I do like the arm arms pictured here in the Eloquii look- appropriate for the time of year.

However this year you might even be able to rock these dresses without any kind of over coat- since it will be 68 degrees here (in New England-MA) on Christmas Eve! How crazy is that! With the heat wave, I imagine New Years will be just as warm!

Even though the holiday dress options out there were many, I still decided I wanted to make myself a dress.  And honestly, I made it, because I could- so why not? I always seem to be looking for the perfect dress but never being able to find it! Well I stumbled upon this amazing gold shimmy coated ponte fabric. Its amazingly comfortable and its stretchy and it adds just a hint of shine and sparkle without being overwhelming. AND I don’t have to worry about being scratched with sequins or losing sequins off my dress! Like my dress? You can get it too! Check it out below!

amanda gold instagram

There are limited quantities available! Check it out here and gets yours today! Sizes 14-32! Limited Time use code: HOLIDAY50 for 50% off ANY dress in my shop! Order by tonight at Midnight (EST) and get it before Christmas! I don’t know about you but I love metallics this season!

I would love to see what dress your wearing to your holiday party this season! Add a picture with a comment below!

Did you know I am also working on launching an exclusive plus size jacket line that will be manufactured ethically in the USA?- Check it out here and be in the know! www.rose-riot.com

Tweet at me, Facebook me, or post a comment and let me know you signed up, and I will give you a special coupon code for my dress shop!

Stay Classy my friends and have a wonderful holiday!

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

 

Fashion Friday!

HI again and welcome back!

This week I am beginning a series called “Fashion Friday’s” where I will be posting images of my outfit of the week! Friday is obviously the best day of the week- every other week its pay day! Who doesn’t love getting paid? I know I do!

Every Friday I will choose the best outfit I wore that week, and tell you all about it! Because let’s face it, I know I don’t have it all together every day of the week. I do try, but its just not my reality.

This outfit was actually made by me!- Amanda Koker! Yay! That’s my favorite part of being a fashion designer, its finally being able to make clothing in my size. During college all the samples that I made were usually between a size 4-8. Which was fine, I didn’t mind because I was learning, and I needed to start somewhere. But now that I have these skills, I want to be able to apply them to myself and to others!

me2

When I saw this fabric, I just fell in love! This fabric came out of NYC and it is the softest fabric in the world. Its Viscose Jersey and it drapes incredibly well. I had first made this garment for Boston Fashion Week! Its technically from the new Spring 2016 Line! I will be posting a video from that fashion show soon! Stay tuned for that post! I went ahead and made this version as I realized that not all women feel comfortable in a bodycon (hip hugging) dress.

Body Con dresses do look good on a lot of different women- below is a picture of my fabulous model Nina rocking it at the Boston Ice Loft! The Ice Loft was such a cool place to hold a fashion show and photoshoot! (More pictures to come from that! Stay Tuned!)

Photo: Dan Minicucci
Photo: Dan Minicucci

 

Both dresses are now available for sale! Check it out here! I also have a 25% off coupon going on right now! Use code: HOLIDAY25 at check out!

I must say this is one of my favorite dresses! It was so comfortable to wear all day, and it never clung. Its really gratifying to finally be able to wear the clothing I design. Fashion is for everyone, and now I finally feel more apart of it! Yay! Wishing you a very happy Fashion Friday!

Have a great weekend!

-Amanda

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

 

#AskLaneBryant- Valid Points Among the Bullshit..

Sometimes I find myself glued into social media, following twitter conversations or getting transfixed into my Facebook feed. I bet this happens to you too? I sit online and all of a sudden 2 hours have gone by and all I have done is read Facebook posts. Something about the internet just sucks you right in!

Well yesterday I stumbled upon #AskLaneBryant on Twitter, while updating my profile: Follow me here! It had not yet begun, it was to be a conversation between the public and Lane Bryant’s CMO. But it was evident that the conversation had already turned before it had begun! I understand we all want our voices to be heard, and as someone who works in the industry its always an interesting experience when receiving feedback or criticism. There are always “take aways”, things to learn from and to think about. However it quickly became a bitch fest.

Its always been interesting to me how bold people are when they have a screen to hide behind. Yes I know what your thinking? Aren’t I the same since this is a blog post? Sure you could say that, but I for one voice the same opinions, in person, to “your” face as much as I would write a blog post about my opinion. But your here reading it so I assume you are interested in an educated opinion.

I admit I did read through a lot of the tweets and some had valid points.

From “Ready to Stares” Alysse Dalessandro- who “Broke the Internet” with her recent release of a red dress that was not clinched at the waist line- a public show of rebellion that plus size women can wear what they want, and reminding us that an hour glass is not the only shape out there. Rock on girl!

askLB

Alysse called for campaigns with 22+ size models. I am all for this. The issue seems to be complex, as there seems to be a call from the consumer for more diversity in model selection- and some retailers seem to be making an effort. I myself (size 26/28) model the clothing in my shop, because I also feel and want to show multiple representations of what my clothing will look like. I understand that clothing always looks good on size 16, who is 5′ 10″, however I am 5; 5″ and usually a size 26.

Its nice to see what the clothing will actually look like on my body type as well. I think more women will benefit and relate. However, in Alysse’s case, when she herself modeled her red dress, that was not synched at the waist line, the internet exploded.  You can’t have it both ways. You either want to see people, models, designers of multiples sizes or you don’t. Its frustrating as a designer and a brand because there is this mixed message of- I want it, but I don’t. Decide People. For me, I am going to keep rocking my size 26 ass on my website (here!) Take it or leave it.

askLB1

Another interesting point of why LB doesn’t carry sizes above 26 in their stores. I do think that they offer up to size 28 online, and in some stores. What most people don’t realize is not all stores are equal. Stores are “graded” based on traffic, physical size and location. Based on this grade, determines the products they receive or don’t receive, this includes the sizes offered as well. A larger store- like the one in Braintree MA, I consider to be an “A” or “B” store, as it has a very large amount of square footage and seems to carry the most local assortment and variety of sizes. However, if I compare that to the Lane Bryant in Walpole Ma, there is a huge difference. Walpole has maybe 1/3 of the retail space, and much less of an assortment and size range. Don’t get me wrong, they carry all the sizes, but they will distribute the sizes in much smaller quantities, thus making getting a larger size more difficult, because there might only be 1 available in that location.

Now I want you to know that I never have worked for Lane Bryant in any capacity, however I do have a corporate day job at a plus size retailer, and I imagine the basics of retail are the same. So to L J Laubenheimer’s point- there just might not be those sizes, or many of those sizes available in local locations. Could this be fixed? Yes- but from a retail perspective it will depend also on the shopping patterns of that location. If certain sizes aren’t selling- or go on clearance, they most likely will not buy so many in the future. I didn’t say that they should buy this way- but it is business. Personally I had an experience at my day job where a store manager asked a executive at corporate for more product in their location. And what was awesome, was corporate listened, and shipped more product to that location. This gives me hope that things can change, and the retailers are listening.

askLB3The wonder Curves and Chaos- who I had the pleasure of meeting in NYC last year- also calls for more diversity. I also think this is a valid point. She points out not just size, but shape and ethnicity. I agree- I think the diversity is better then it has been in the past, but I would love to see models with apple shapes, models who are petite, etc. I personally would love to see a model who Is my size 26 as well. I think its smart because it helps the consumer relate and see what the brands clothing looks like on multiple body shapes. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone can be represented all at the same time from one brand. But that’s the beauty of fashion- its not one brands job to satisfy everyone. If it were, there would only be one brand. The point is to give consumers choices and options.

askLB4On a personal note- that’s me- Rose Riot– on twitter asking about smaller brand collaborations. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for seeing Project Runways Christian Siriano produce a collection for Lane Bryant because he is crazy talented and I fell in love with his designs watching him on TV. However, brands like Lane Bryant have more power then I think they realize. As a start-up/small brand, its very difficult to get In front of consumers and a collaboration with a major game changer like Lane Bryant could be beneficial not only for a smaller brand but for the consumer. I see a lot of women commenting on wanting to see different styles at Lane Bryant. Whether its different fabrics, prints, etc. Style is taste is different for everyone and you can’t expect 1 retailer to please everyone, but a small brand collaboration would be one way to offer more variety and help catapult the next big plus size fashion designer/brand. I wouldn’t mind if Rose Riot was Lane Bryant’s guinea pig.

askLB2It was nice to see that Lane Bryant stayed classy in their response. Not for nothing, and I think people forget this while on the internet- there are people behind the screen. You are talking to people- whether is Lane Bryant or whoever, I think it might be nice to be kinder to each-other. Its easy to be an asshole over the internet or spew uninformed and uneducated opinion.. but remember your talking to a human being. Its one thing to voice your opinion but its certainly another to be nasty about it.

Lane Bryant, and all retailers- don’t own you anything. They aim to please and want you to feel valued and loved, as we should be, however they can’t be everything to everyone. If you don’t like it- go somewhere else. That’s the best part of freedom of choice. There are more choices then ever- there is no excuse. Do your homework and support the brands you care about and give you what you need.

Want to know what I am up to? A New Plus Size Jacket Line that will be ethically made in the USA.. Launching Fall 2016! Sign up and stay tuned!

That’s all for now. Stay Classy.

-Amanda

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

This is HALLOWEEN…..

First off, I hope everyone had an awesome Halloween! For the first time in what feels like forever, Halloween night fell on a weekend night! The Saturday was the perfect time for Halloween; parents didn’t have to deal with work, kids didn’t have to deal with school; and average people like you and me could have a drink or two and not have to worry so much about going to work with a hangover! #Truth

I am not a procrastinator as much as I literally am out of time, all the time. If I could have 40hrs in day, that would be great. The night before Halloween, I decided I was going to DIY my costume, and paint a sweater I bought from Saver’s. My idea was to do a skeleton type costume, but sort of day of the dead-esc but not crazy. I haven’t painted in a long time, and I forgot how therapeutic it could be.

Below are pictures of my finished sweater. I googled a photo of “skeleton chest” to use as reference and did the best I could. I didn’t want to go for a stark white bone structure- I thought it would look to gimmicky.

Skeleton Painting Sweater

I did end up liking the end product. I also had bought skeleton hand gloves to finish off my outfit. I also dug through my most recent fashion show bag of accessories and easily found all things Halloweenish. It was great- one of the bonuses of loving roses, skulls and things all year round! Needless to say, I found a bunch of rose hair pieces in both black and red. I wanted to look day of the dead ish- and the hair pieces ended up being perfect! Its hard to see the hair pieces from the picture below- but you get a better idea of what the completed sweater looked like. Also I pulled out skeleton earrings and a red necklace to finish the look.

Amanda Skeleton

I am no make up artist- and thank god I bought red make up from the wedding I had recently attended (I wore a red ASK Fashion dress to my boyfriends, cousins, wedding). So I had deep red lipstick and dark pink blush, and red eye shadow to finish the look. Its not obvious but I wore my black sweat pants too! Had to be comfortable for a night of getting together with the best friends a girl could ask for.

Pictured below is my good friend Maria- who did way more skull make up than I did, and boy she did look amazing! That is one of the best parts of going to a Halloween party with your closest friends- you all are nerdy enough to dress up and have a great time! It was a good reminder to just relax and have some fun.

Amanda and Maria Halloween

I think that’s one of the hardest things to do today- is de-connect and relax. I decided once I arrived at the party- that there would be no fashion business after I walked through that door; that night I was going to relax, hang out, have a glass of wine, and enjoy myself!

Halloween is one of my most favorite times of year! Yet it came and went so quick! (Just like everything else seems to be doing lately!- Like where did the time go?!?)

If its not enough to feel so connected and rushed, I felt like I have had no time to recover post-Halloween. I mean that in the sense, that literally on November 1st we are being shoved Peppermint Latte’s and Christmas Music! As if it wasn’t bad enough that the second “Back to School” was over- we were already seeing Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas- jeezz! I mean I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see New Years things, any day now! I feel like saying.. Stop Rushing Me! Lol.

I am not going to lie- I am not disappointed that I can now order my favorite drink of the entire year- Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks- (the BEST!). But, it is a bit much, a bit too soon! I feel like people need to relax, and take some time to enjoy themselves and the people they surround themselves with. Sometimes I feel we forget what is really important- we get so busy, so consumed with our lives, we forget to stop and look around every once in a while. As Ferris Bueller once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”. I feel like, if you take away anything from this post- it will be to stop and look around the try to enjoy and appreciate life. This is something I am constantly reminding myself; as a business women, fashion entrepreneur, and overall busy person working 3 jobs- that I have to stop every once and a while and relax, take in my surroundings, enjoy my life, hang out with my friends and family and have some fun, and try acting like I am 25 for once! (not 25 going on 45!)

What were you for Halloween?! I would love to know! Comment below!

One last note- I will leave you with one of my favorite cover songs, from one of my favorite movies, from one of my favorite singers! It gets me into that Halloween mood!- Sally’s Song by Ame Lee of Evanescence. Take a Listen! Its Amy Lee from Evanescence, singing a song from the movie- the NightMare Before Christmas. Love that movie!

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to sign up on my mailing list and stay up to date on all things- ASK! Stay Fabulous my friends!

Don’t forget to sign up on our mailing list Here!

white skull head prop

Stay Happy and Classy my friends!

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

Jackets Jackets and More Jackets!

Hello Again!

I want to start out by saying I just LOVE the fall. It is by far, my favorite season of the entire year! Here in New England, I love seeing all the trees lose their leaves, and the leaves changing colors! Highway driving becomes pretty pleasant!

I must admit that I have an outwear problem; meaning I cannot get enough jackets and coats! I just love them! They are my favorite fashion item! And fall is the perfect time to start taking out those wonderful jackets!

One of my favorite jackets I had made when I first graduated from college- pictured below. And it is one of the best jackets that I have ever made. It got me thinking- I wish I had one in MY size! In college they teach you the how-to’s of fashion design and pattern drafting and draping, and typically you build your skills based on using a “standard” model size- usually sizes 2-6. Well I don’t know about you, but I have never been and never will be a size 6!

Black and White Leather Jacket

This is my constant frustration with the fashion industry. I feel like, even though the plus size fashion community has only continued to grow there is still so much more room for improvement.

So that is where I am going to begin. I will make this jacket in MY size, and rock the hell out of it. I am tired of being an after thought for major retailers, especially when it comes to outerwear. I still find myself thinking- I wish that was in MY size. Well No more of that nonsense! This time next year I am launching a full fledged outwear plus size fashion line.

I would love to know your struggles with finding the right jacket for you! What is your biggest complaint? I hate when I find jackets I love that don’t fit right, AND don’t have pockets! I mean really? What person who wears a jacket doesn’t want pockets! It seems crazy to me!

I want to feel funky, and fabulous too! I feel like we are lucky enough to get a rack or two, yet our more slender counterpart gets 20! Its craziness to me. I found myself looking for a new fall/winter coat to wear to my day job, something warm, well fitting and functional that had my kick ass style- and I came home empty handed. There is nothing more annoying then not being able to find what I am looking for! Its getting cold out, and I need a jacket! And I imagine all of my fabulous plus size friends out there need one too!

Keep your eyes pealed for my new jacket line next fall (2016!). It time that I take this problem head on and design the jackets that I have always dreamt of! After all I want a kick ass jacket too! I deserve to feel strong, fabulous (and warm!) and so do you! I can’t wait to show you want I am currently working on and developing!

I would love to hear your feedback! What are the top 3 things you look when shopping for a jacket/coat/outerwear. Please give me a comment below and I might just send you a coupon code for my Etsy Shop! (Shop Here!)

If you LOVE this jacket as much as I do- leave your email in a comment, and get on the mailing list- be the FIRST to know when this jacket will be available for Pre-Order! Woo! Or Sign Up for my mailing list here!  www.rose-riot.com

Thanks for reading!- Stay fabulous!-

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

 

Ohh give me the beat boys and free my soul.. I want to get lost in your rock and roll..

Hello!

Sorry its been a while! I cannot believe it is already September! Where did the time go? Where did the summer go? I am ready for leather jackets, combat boots, scarves, hats, gloves, shawls, sweatshirts and more! Fall is my favorite time of year. There is something about the way that fall smells, that pumpkin spice, the dying leaves it just fills me. Though I will admit I am not a huge pumpkin spice fan, as much as I am a Gingerbread latte fan- but that’s more in the holiday season- not rushing that! Well I would love a Gingerbread coffee right now, but I guess I can wait.

What I really intended to write about besides my clear coffee obsession is music. You’ll notice the title of this post is song lyrics from Bob Seger’s song “I want to get lost in your Rock N’ Roll”. That’s truly how I feel about rock and roll music in general. Its in the moment of venting frustration, pain and struggle- and knowing that other people (usually the artist) is speaking the words you thought were only in your head; that these feeling were specific to you. That’s the thing- they’re not, and its wonderful. Other people have gone through the exact same thing- the struggle that it is to be human. Sometimes it just feels good screaming song lyrics in my car.

Lately my personal and professional life has been draining me dry- bringing me to the point of exhaustion. But what has gotten me through- (a thank you to my friends, family and boyfriend who are my constant rock and support)- but on a more personal level- that time when its just you and your thoughts; what has gotten me through is the music. It always has been the music. It “frees my soul.. I want to get lost in your Rock N’ Roll and drift away..”.

A new song I discovered from a recent favorite artist is “Fighter” by In this Moment. Listen here.

The song lyrics that stick out to me the most are:

“I will fall and rise above
And in your hate I find love
‘Cause I’m a survivor
Yeah, I am a fighter

I will not hide my face
I will not fall from grace
I’ll walk into the fire, baby

All my life
I was afraid to die
And now I come alive inside these flames”

I pick these lyrics in particular because what speaks to me is surviving; rising above. Someone once told me, (in reference to being a star) that you must burn to shine. I thought this was appropriate to both how I feel and the visualization of fire in these lyrics.

As a plus size woman, I often find the rejection from society so in my face 24/7 there is no escape from it. Especially with todays technology- its so easily assessable around the clock; its almost suffocating at times. I mean look at the you tube post that recently went viral- “Dear Fat People” is all I will say- I mean look how easy it is for people to just spew hatred, especially on such a public platform; its disgusting.

This is where those lyrics become true for me.. “In your hate, I find love”. I give a thousand kudos to those women putting themselves out there and publicly taking this hate- someone like Whitney Way Thore. Good for her- she’s honestly more brave then I would be. It takes balls to be out in the public eye and say “Fuck you guys, I am who I am, take it or leave it” (not that she said those words), but she doesn’t have to. Actions will always speak louder then words. And not for nothing, but I don’t see anyone else who comments or criticizes stepping up to the plate. Its easy to be bold behind a screen. I think its cowardly. Whitney has all my support and I cannot wait for her second season of “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” to air. It takes courage to be a symbol and get out there. What I love most about her is her realness and her positive attitude- her platform #NoBodyShameCampaign You Rock on Girl!

I love ITM next lines “I will not hide my face/ I will not fall from grace”. I love love love this because its again exactly how I feel. Despite what you might think of me (or anyone else) as a plus size person- I will still always be here, and I will NOT hide my face. You have a problem with me? That’s YOUR problem, not mine. I am a firm believer in self reliance and responsibility. ITM’s next line ” I will not fall from grace” I just love even more, because to me it means no matter what shit you have to say about me, or what you think of me has NO power over me. I yield my own results, and no one else. If I “fall from grace” it will be because of me, and not you. YOU and only YOU determine your fate. Your choices will determine your outcome; no one else’s. And if you don’t choose for yourself, you let someone choose for you. You give up your voice. I say, Fuck that! I have a lot to say! I will not be silenced and neither should you.

“I will walk into the fire”- this next line- is embracing this journey.  Knowing what lies ahead and walking through the flames anyway. Having the balls to know what you want and to go for it. Only you have the power to shape you. You are all that matters. Every day I work on loving myself, and who I see in the mirror. From P!NK’s lyrics (Fuckin’ Perfect)- I will “change the voices in (my) head, make them like you, instead”. Its true. The only voice you control in your head is yours. There will always be people telling you what to think and what to do- but YOU need to decide for You! You make that choice. Take control.

“All my life/ I was afraid to die/ And now I come alive inside these flames” This is perfect. (And not dying in the literal sense here people). All my life, I was afraid- those lyrics are true. Growing up you become afraid of not fitting it, of being the outcast, of being called the fat girl. I felt the same things, I am not different than you. But- and this is important- because I embrace my inner freak, embrace my life and my journey- I not only “come alive” but I thrive! You walk into the fire, and come alive inside the flames. Its all about change. To me, its about letting go, and allowing yourself to transform and change into the woman you were born to become.

I don’t mean to sound preachy here- but this song, Rock N’ Roll in general for me, is empowering. Screaming these lyrics in my car on my ride home from my day job, gets me through the day. I scream sometimes to just feel alive; to say I am here. And it feels good. Let it go- release all this energy that’s building up inside. Decide for yourself how you feel and what you want. Don’t ever let anyone tell you your not enough. Or that your not this or not that; its always something. Why does it seem always so hard to find the people who want to help you instead of wanting to hurt you.

This is again one of my philosophies. We can make it together. There is already some much hatred in this world, so much shame and blame. There is no need for any of this. And down to my core I don’t understand the need women feel to tear each other down. I truly can’t understand. If women as a whole knew just how powerful we were together, we would be unstoppable. Its recognizing that inner power and using it, and not letting anyone take it away from  you. It never hurts to help. We will make it together because “I’m a survivor/ yeah I am a fighter” and so are you. The fight isn’t easy. But if its worth fighting- never stop. You ARE worth fighting for. Don’t anyone ever tell you otherwise.

I want to hear from you! What do you think? Who inspires you? What music gets you through your day? Shout out in a comment below! Thanks for reading!

Did you know I am developing a plus size jacket line? Follow my fashion journey here! Sign up and be in the know! http://www.rose-riot.com

Stay Classy!

-A

Ⓒ Rose Riot 2016

The 1st Annual Boston Curvy Fashion Week 2015!

Woo! Welcome back to the fabulous blog of me and my ventures with ASK Fashion!

This past weekend was the very 1st annual Boston Curvy Fashion Week! Woo! I was sooo excited that my own home town had finally jumped onto the plus size fashion scene.

The Boston Curvy Fashion Week- was actually a weekend- and took place over 4 days; Thursday through Sunday. The first event was the Media and Press event that was held at UFORGE Gallery in Boston. It’s a small gallery that has local art work. It took me a few minutes to find it, and then find walking distance parking. Luckily I found a spot I could park where I didn’t have to pay. It was a beautiful night that night; not that I ended up walking far. (Basically through a Dunkin Donuts parking lot)

The event took place for a few hours that night. The team introduced themselves and gave an over view of the run of events that weekend. They even called on me to give a little speech about ASK Fashion; which was cool but totally unexpected. We mingled and had light snacks- they even had a Instagram board to take large selfies in. It was cool. See my picture below.

What is cool about these kind of events, is even though they are on the smaller attendance side- the people who you get to talk to are sometimes people you have been following for a while on the internet. Which is cool- I like being able to meet someone I have been following online for a long period of time. I’m like- OH OK now I know who you are! Which I like; sometimes we get caught up in this digital age that we forget the joys of actually spending time with people: in person, and not via computer screen.

The next day- Friday- was the Curvy Night Experience Party. This event had vendors- which you could see and do some shopping and have fun! This was at the Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center- right next to the Back Bay Train Station (Near Copley). This made my commute easy- AND the parking garage was literally right next to the hotel- and I mean like 20 steps from garage to hotel. I was glad I found that out the first next- as I was schlepping all of my vendor table set up with me that night. If I was only attending the event I probably would have taken the train- but I was a vendor and I did a runway show on Saturday- so taking my car to carry all of the garments, combat boots etc seemed like the best option.

The Curvy Night Experience went well! What I love about vendor events too is being able to display all of my garments for people to touch and see. Sometimes it’s about the feel of the fabric, and the look of when you try it on. It’s so hard to shop online it’s much easier to see for yourself what fabric feels like, how it drapes, what color it really is- first, before purchasing. Coming to the ASK Fashion Pop-Up shop is for sure the best way to try on all of my current fashion line.

However I do have an easy return policy; for those who can’t travel and need to purchase online! Don’t worry! I aim to please! But I do understand the need to shop in person as well. See below some of my garments I had for sale on my clothing rack. All are available here! If you read this far- use code BCFWeek15 for 15% off your purchase! Woo! Coupons! Who doesn’t love a coupon!

Speaking of- if your missed Boston Fashion Week and will be in the Baltimore MD area this coming weekend (July 31st-August 2nd) I will be at Curves Rock Weekend!! I will have another Pop-Up shop! Come on by and see me! I love taking pictures and getting feedback and talking to you! That again is one of the best parts of the events; is talking to people and really getting to know you! I love to hear your stories, opinions, shopping woes and hopes! It really helps me out; not only as a designer but as another plus size consumer. See below for the Curves Rock Flyer! Come by and see my table!

I even decided to get in front of the camera myself, and take photos of me (size 26) in my own line! I think more retailers need to shop more “Real” women in their clothing. The wonderful models who are 5’ 10” and a size 14/16 are fabulous- but sometimes it doesn’t help me out- a size 26 and 5’ 5” woman. I am all about real representation! If you’re in the Boston Area and would like to model for ASK Fashion- please send me an e-mail! I am ALWAYS looking for new models! Email me at askfashion90@gmail.com

The vendor event went well. I closed up shop a few minutes ahead of schedule; I was starving, and I had to get ready for the runway show Saturday morning! I did have the pleasure of meeting Dressing Room 8’s Natasha Nurse; who I got a bite to eat after the event Friday night! I love talking to people! I really do- I am a chatter box, I think sometimes I can’t stop talking!

Anyway- Saturday was the Curves are Coming Runway Show! This was held again at the Boston Common Hotel and Conference Center. Really easy to get to. All the models showed up ahead of time- getting their hair and make-up done. I brought all 11 pairs of combat boots! A few of my models brought their own kick ass combat boots- which went perfect with the collection! I re-showcased my fall/winter collection that was previously shown at Style Week North East. This collection was a darker color pallet, all about British Punk Rock and a Kick Ass attitude. The collection was entitled “We are Taking Over”; plus size fashion is here and we are taking over the industry. We are kicking ass and taking names and we are here to stay.

That’s truly how I feel. The standardized fashion industry can suck it. I have never been any less than a double digit my entire life, and though its now a little easier to find clothing- there is nothing really on the market that caters to me and what I want… AND that helps to support American Manufacturing. Fashion is a global business, but I feel it is vital and important to understand exactly where our clothing is coming from; who is making it, where is the fabric being woven, what the clothing history is. Being made in the USA is a very important and un-negotiable part of ASK Fashion. When you buy from ASK- you buy from me; a piece of my heart and soul that has been carefully cherished and nurtured from my head and heart through a transparent and sustainable supply chain. I don’t mean to sound preachy here- but it means a lot to me.

At the end of the day- you get what you pay for. ASK Fashion is an investment; it’s an acknowledgement that we need to help support American design and manufacturing, and that we are where our clothing comes from; and we look kick ass while we do it. It’s about investing in each other. ASK Fashion is quality garments made from the best fabrics. My clothing doesn’t cost $4, but it’s not going to fall apart the first time you wash it either. ASK is an investment- in our country and in ourselves (and in ME!) You won’t find anything else on the market like it. This is how I feel and what I and ASK Fashion stand for. Take it or leave it.

Sorry to get on a tangent- back to the showcase. I want to point out- this is solely from my (designer) perspective of the show, so I don’t have the full details of the events, as I was participating in the event, and not watching. The models did a good job kicking ass and taking names down the runway. My finale model Nina even strutted her stuff down the runway on the sprained ankle- now that’s dedication! Nina is a rockstar! We even had time to do impromptu photo shoots on the stairs, in the elevator and outside on their little patio.

The girls did great, and my song- “Prisoner of Society” by the Living Dead- I thought was appreciate, and it got everyone in the kick ass mood. It was very catchy. I am not going to lie- I totally listened to it on repeat on my drive home after the show. I just couldn’t get enough!

All in all the show went decently smoothly. There were a few acts in between each show case- (not sure what those were- as I was back stage getting my ladies ready).  For the first time putting on a series of events like this- I think they did a decent job. It’s a lot to take on, and its way more than it seems. I do think some improvements can be made- like more lighting on the runway- but again for the first run- it wasn’t bad at all.

Were you in the audience? I would love to know what you thought of the show? Did you attend any of the other events?

Leave a comment below- I would like to know what you think!

Thanks! Woo!-A

ASK Fashion At Full Figured Fashion Week 2015!

First I want to say hello again, and welcome back to my blog! This is the ramblings of a quirky 25 year old on this crazy journey known as life as a plus size fashion designer and entrepreneur! It is quite a ride let me tell you! Today I am highlighting my experience at the infamous Full Figured Fashion Week in NYC.

This year Full Figured Fashion Week had many sponsors- the biggest sponsor was Fruit of the Loom- who launched a new plus size, and new fit underwear line. I just want to say those ladies were AMAZING and I literally have a least 60 new pairs of underwear! (And I must say they are fabulous thus far!- microfiber being my favorite!)

There were several events held that week- all which were fabulous!

The first I attended was the buyer/press conference that was held on Tuesday June 16th. I got to meet a lot a awesome people! I had a little table set up, with my business cards, portfolio, pictures and logo. It was really cool. This event is the first time you really get a chance to talk to anyone (well, it was for me, as this was the first event I was attending). See below a picture of my little table!

I am also currently obsessed with panoramic views! See the picture below of the entire room! So cool!

It was an awesome event! I got to meet up with a few friends of mine! It was a really nice meet and greet moment- a perfect beginning to the week!

In between- there were seminar type events going on as well. One of the best parts of FFFweek is all the amazing people you get to meet. I met up with friends I made last year, and made even more new friends this year! After a business event that we held- we all went and got lunch together! Sharing experiences, swapping stories and advise- it was amazing. There are so many women out there, business owners, designers, models, editors, etc and they have so much to share- its quite incredible. I must say- one of the things that makes FFFweek so special, is that it is a space where women are just helping each other up and through; such a supportive group.

The next day was my favorite day- it was the day of the white boat cruise! The fitting for the designers and models takes place during the day- but the all white boat cruise is my favorite evening festivity! The fitting went well- as it usually does; the models are fantastic and prepared! It went pretty smoothly, with only a few minor adjustments. Needle and thread in hand!

Right after the fitting, its a mad dash back to the hotel- to get ready for the boat cruise! This year I was running late- as usual- and I couldn’t hail a cab for the life of me! I was so afraid I was going to miss the boat- I ended up getting a ride from a bucket bike driver! He was so nice, and to his word- he got me from 37th, down to Pier 41 in just under 15 minutes! If I had taken a cab, I would have missed the boat!

My bike peddler was really funny and made the trip really fun! So needless to say I got there in time! And even had time to spare! While we waited I found friends of mine, other designers, models etc and took pictures! They even had a fake Instagram picture frame to take pictures in!

I mean take a look at our bad ass boat!

This boat was really kick ass! It had 4 floors, and you could look down onto the dance floor from the second balcony floor! Just look at how kick ass this view is!!

Luckily it didn’t rain- although is was VERY windy that day! My friends nicknamed me Marilyn, because my white dress had a life of its own, and just would not stay in place! The wind would blow and skirt of my dress went up with it! Haha- luckily I was with a very awesome group of inspiring women, who just had a great time! We all had a good laugh! I met up again with Karen Ward and her Husband- of “Her Big Sister’s Closet” up in Canada, and with Madeline Jones of Plus Model Magazine! They were nice enough to take a picture with me! wooo!

Thursday was a nice quiet day. My boyfriend came to the city to support me, and of course to go to our favorite restaurant to celebrate our 4th anniversary! Woo! Our favorite restaurant is a small place called Ninja. It is amazing! A little on the pricey side, but we only go once a year. If you have never been, I highly suggest it! They have an underground/ ninja like atmosphere and all the waiters play the part of ninjas. Each table has a little cubby type place, with sliding wood doors for a little bit of privacy. Its hilarious! The waiters come out of no where and scare the crap out of you! Its really a great time!

After ordering dinner, one of the “ninjas” who is really a magician comes to entertain you for a bit. And I must say, the last few times we have been the magicians have been incredible! We always give them a good tip, and one magician, (all are wearing sleeveless shirts btw)- made a potato come out of thin air. But really- he did- I couldn’t logically figure it out, and it was a real potato- I held it in my hand after. I was like- holy shit!

I just love this picture of the lantern that sits outside Ninja. From the outside it literally just looks like a door. When you step in, you meet a hostess, that brings you to the elevator, and you descend down into the little ninja world. Its quite an experience. This is in NYC, down in the Tribeca area.

Then it was Friday! Show Day!

Photo By Farrah Estrella

That’s me! I love that I now get to say- that I am wearing an ASK Fashion Dress. How cool is that?!? I finally get to wear my own brand! The coolest part I think is seeing my company name in the label. That was surreal.

The entire experience of FFFweek is surreal- as it goes by so fast! You prepare for months to get ready for the once a year fabulous week! And then its over! I can’t believe its already been a month since I was in NYC! Like honestly, where did the time go?

The fashion showcase went by quickly. This year- Gwen Devoe- the fearless leader and kick ass fashionista of FFFweek- made things a little different this year. This year, all the designers were interviewed right before the collections walked down the runway. That was pretty cool- and really exciting. Your in such a state of euphoria that you feel like your floating. Honestly its the best feeling in the world.

And then its over! So exhausted after the show- we hauled ourselves back to the hotel! Thanks to Fruit of the Loom- the main sponsor of FFFweek- I walked away with at least 60+ new pairs of underwear. Not only did we get new pairs in the gift bags from the showcase- (my parents and grandparents each got a bag filled with underwear) but I was given even more underwear at the vendor event earlier in the week! I am happy to say, we found homes for almost all of the underwear- many different ladies are happy; as we received many different sizes.

We finished our NYC trip on Saturday- at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My boyfriend and I spent almost 6 hours! And we barely finished the first floor! We have to go back to explore the upstairs portion. However we did stumble upon the fashion exhibit “Through the Looking Glass: China”.

It was AMAZING! Below is the Buddha dress! This dress was in the center of the room. On the edges of the room were many different types of Buddha-esque statues. It was pretty damn cool.

The trip to NYC was truly an amazing experience! What a blast! I still cannot believe its been a month since we were there! How fast it comes and goes!

They have already announced the dates for FFFweek 2016! Mark your calendars now! See you next year!

Were you at any of the events? Which events did you enjoy the most? Have you been to NYC? What other kinds of events have you been too? I would love to know!

Stay Classy!

-A

Ⓒ ASK Fashion LLC & Ⓒ Rose Riot

Halestorm at Rock On the Range- Ohio!

First off I want to say Hello! And thanks for reading my blog! This past weekend was the epic event Rock On the Range in Ohio! Unfortunately I have never been, but have always wanted to go. This years line up was pretty amazing and I would have loved to be there. I LOVE rock and roll because you know what, sometimes it just feels good to get angry and feel passionate, and to just scream and feel alive. Below is one of my favorite bands Halestorm- with my review and thoughts about  what they mean to me, to music, to fashion and to the world.

Lets dive deeper shall we:

Halestorm!

“Halestorm is an American hard rock band from Red Lion Pennsylvania, consisting of lead vocalist and guitarist Lzzy Hale, her brother drummer and percussionist Arejay Hale, guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith. The group’s self titled debut album was released on April 28, 2009, through Atlantic Records. Their second album The Strange Case of..was released on April 10, 2012. Its lead single “Love Bites (So Do I)” from that album won their first Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance on February 10, 2013″.- SOURCE WIKIPEDIA”

Wanted to make sure you had some background. Lzzy Hale is pretty incredible. Like other Rock Star chicks trying to make waves in a male dominated industry she for sure kicks ass and takes names. I have personally see her play live (when she toured in Avenged Sevenfold back in 2011) and she had a great show! I particularly like her recent song- “Freak like me” – which she played at Rock on the Range. I watched a televised version via AXS channel- on Direct TV. #Freaklikeme

Below I have listed the lyrics to “Freak Like Me”- one of my all time favorite songs from Halestorm. If I was to dissect the lyrics this is how I would go about it. Going for the first line that sticks out to me is “making most of the ride before we get arrested”. I like this a lot, because we should make the most of our “ride” our journey- this life; as we only get this one. We wouldn’t be doing ourselves any justice or favors if we didn’t make the most of it. Let’s live freely and openly- the life we choose to live.

The next line..” Covered in black, we lack the social graces”; black meaning a shadow of doubt or literally the black clothing that rock and roll is known for- take it as you will. But I like to think of it more as a dark shadow; wearing black as a un-literal sense of disguise. The term “black sheep” comes to mind here- especially as she continues..” lacks the social graces”. I would interpret this as being society’s reject. Not fitting in, not abiding by the “social grace or standard” that is expected of me as a member of society. I never said I wanted to fit in- and I don’t- this line is perfect.

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE- “They can’t tame us/ So if you’re one of us, get on the bus”- This speaks to me on an even bigger level. Not only Is Lzzy Hale implying that “we” cannot be tamed (so don’t bother)- But she offers to us a feeling of membership- “So if your one of us”. That is SOO important because she is creating a community of “freaks” (as she calls them)- but of all of us. I interpret that as, – those of us who don’t belong- we belong together; just as we are; freaks like her (me). Acceptance through difference; it is exactly what I believe- (we also as in ASK FASHION)- Fashion, & acceptance in general through difference.

Next- “If you’re a freak like me/ Wave your flag!…. It’s our time now/ To let it all hang out” I just love this too. I love it simply because she brings us to her level. She- Lzzy Hale is “one of us”, and we belong with her- “freak like me”. She not only understands, she encourages and brings together those of us who want to stand out- she is not above us- but one of us- and there is such an important difference. She belongs to her fans, like we belong to her- one cannot exist without the other. Together- we are family- Freaks like me.

The second half- “It’s our time now/To let it all hang out”. I could not have said it better myself- it is for sure “our time”. We “let it all hang out”- in the sense of not only being present, but standing out- exactly as we are- “letting it all hang out”. For the fashion community there has never been a more perfect time for Plus Size Fashion- to be apart of something much bigger than just myself- this is a movement- this is my life and the time is now. “We” the Plus Size Fashion community are here to stay. Not only are we here- but we want you to notice us.

The next few.. “you were born to burn..”- this I particularly like because no one said this life would be an easy one. Someone once said to me- you have to burn to shine. Burn in the sense of working for it- working for the life you want, getting through your hurdles, obstacles whatever is in your way and overcoming it. Born- I like that she uses this word- Born because it implies that I was made to take this challenge; this life on, that this was the path I was made to pursue, and not only will I pursue it, but I will get through it and achieve because I was born to succeed. But, not without hard work, perseverance  tenacity and skill.

I love this too -” This is no disease you don’t need a cure”- I take this in the freak membership sense (ignoring medical completely because this is NOT what I am talking about) what I am trying to describe is a sense of who I am and who you are as people- being a “Freak” is not a disease- and Lzzy is right- you DON’T need a cure- because there is nothing to cure. Whether I am a size 6 or a size 26- I am who I am, despite what my jean label says. And I proudly say I am a freak.

Now on to the next..”We’re underground but we will not surrender/ We’re gonna give them something to remember, yeah/ So write your name in gasoline/And set that shit on fire” I love this lyric because it reminds me of the plus size industry as well- what started underground has continued to grow, and we will not surrender until we accomplish what we set out to do. And- not only will we continue to fight on- but we will “give them something to remember”- I LOVE that. Not only do I (and me as ASK FASHION) want to continue the good fight- but I want you to remember me- remember and know the person and people behind the brand- making your clothes, and transforming lives. I love the picture that Lzzy paints in our heads- writing our names in gasoline and setting it on fire- what a perfect image. That is exactly what we tend to you. (How appropriate she mentions burning in her earlier lyric, and her she is- burning her name for you to remember- how perfect!) *Nice job Lzzy*

And last but not least.. “Don’t apologize/ They can’t hold you down/ you were born to rise!” I must say I love this the most- and I couldn’t agree more. I make (and the brand) NO apologizes for who we are or how we feel. I am unapologetic about re-shoring American manufacturing, supporting the American economy, forming relationships and sustainability. “They can’t hold you down/ You were born to rise!”. I also love this because it reflects that struggle- of being “held down” in a sense. But she reminds us- that we got this- that we have to keep fighting- because (we) “were born to rise!”. You have to keep fighting. And you don’t need to apologize for just being you. I as sure as hell won’t apologize. Take me, or leave it. You have two choices. I am going to rise, and so are you. Keep fighting, if your a #freaklikeme! Rock on ladies!

Freak like Me Lyrics– courtesy of Lyricfreak.com

I’m on the train that’s pullin’ the sick and twisted,
Makin’ the most of the ride before we get arrested,
We’re all wasted,
And we’re not going home tonight

Covered in black we lack the social graces,
Just like an animal we crawl out of our cages,
They can’t tame us,
So if you’re one of us, get on the bus

[Chorus]
If you’re a freak like me,
Wave your flag!
If you’re a freak like me,
Get off your ass!
It’s our time now,
To let it all hang out

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
You were born to burn,
This is no disease you don’t need a cure!
It’s our time now to come out!
If you’re a freak like me!
If you’re a freak like me!

We’re underground but we will not surrender,
We’re gonna give them something to remember, yeah,
So write your name in gasoline,
And set that shit on fire

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
Don’t apologize,
They can’t hold you down,
You were born to rise!
It’s our time now to come out!

If you’re a freak like me
If you’re a freak like me
Are you a freak like me?
Are you a freak, like, me?!

So shout if you’re a freak like me,
Don’t apologize,
They can’t hold you down,
You were born to rise!
It’s our time now to come out!
If you’re a freak like me!
If you’re a freak like me!
If you’re a freak like me!
If you’re a freak like me!
If you’re a freak like me!

Ⓒ ASK Fashion LLC & Ⓒ Rose Riot