We’d like to start off today by again thanking every single one of our supporters, both those who pledged on Kickstarter and those who helped us spread the word. With your help, we had pledges for 73% of our $11,000 goal. We were so, so close to reaching our goal. Unfortunately close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades… because we didn’t reach our goal, we didn’t receive any of the money that was pledged through Kickstarter.
So many of you have been asking what’s next, and encouraging us to find another way to make this happen or to try Kickstarter again. We want to let you know right now that this is NOT the end for us, it’s just the beginning. Bobby, Barb and I took some time over the last week to dig deep into our Kickstarter campaign and our business plan to see what worked, what needed improvement, and get some clarity on where we want to go from here and how to get there. So, in no particular order, here are a few of the things that we’re starting to work on…
Kickstarter – we really believe in Kickstarter and the way it helps us build not only a business, but a community of people who care about healthy living more than the size on a tag. And we feel strongly that using Kickstarter is a better choice for us than more traditional financing. We’ll be launching a new and improved Kickstarter campaign in late September or early October.
Product Development – We were really listening to all of the comments and suggestions that people have been making. So in the next couple of months we’ll be sourcing some different materials, making adjustments to the designs, and maybe even designing some new things. We’ll keep you updated as we finalize the new line.
Video and Better Photos – We’re going to take the time to do new photos. Lots more active shots, several settings, and hopefully work with a professional photographer. Our friend Meghan did a great job, and we love some of the photos she got for us. Now that we’re past our initial jitters, hopefully we’ll be better models. (Though I think we all agree that we’ll be glad when we can afford to hire models… it’s a lot harder than it looks!) And we’ll also do a video for Kickstarter and maybe a few video updates too!
That’s it for now, but stay tuned over the next couple of months. We’ll be posting updates on new developments as they happen, and if you follow the blog, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, you’ll be among the first to know the launch date for our next Kickstarter (among other things).
I’d like to apologize for the radio silence this week. I’ve been dealing with a summer cold/sinus infection all week and cold medications are not conducive to writing… it’s kind of like trying to make sense when you’re drunk. Just doesn’t work.
We’re less than 48 hours away from the end of our Kickstarter campaign, and we’ve still got $3228 to go before we meet our goal. I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to meet our goal. Kickstarter is all or nothing. If we don’t reach that goal, we don’t receive any of the money.
And if we don’t reach the goal? We won’t abandon the project, that for sure. But it will change the game plan quite a bit. We’ll have to work with our current, old equipment until we earn enough to replace it. Our serger is 24 years old and our sewing machine is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 years old. The serger is the biggest concern. It won’t last very long at all, and may not last long enough for us to replace it, even with another inexpensive model. It also doesn’t do the hem stitch we need.
Probably the biggest, saddest change of plans if we don’t reach our Kickstarter goal is that we’ll have to limit our size offerings, or charge an additional fee for “extended” sizes. Without the pattern drafting software and large format printer, those larger patterns will have to be drafted by hand, which can take up to 2 hours for each size.
If you haven’t already, please take the time to pledge your support. Every dollar counts. Spread the word. Share the link to our Kickstarter campaign or our blog with your friends and family. Together we can make active wear for every body a reality.
We seem to live in a culture that glorifies pushing our bodies until it hurts. Take the t.v. show The Biggest Loser for example. From watching that show, you might get the idea that a work out isn’t successful unless you puke at the end. Or fall of a treadmill. When in reality, pushing yourself that far beyond endurance just doesn’t make sense.
I got to thinking about this topic the other day. An old friend of mine, the kind that I only see on Facebook anymore, has been posting about her family’s journey to eating better and becoming more physically fit. Both my old friend, and her husband have lost a considerable amount of weight in the past year, and are very happy about it. They joined a local gym and began working with a personal trainer. Now here’s where I get totally confused. When I knew this girl in college, she had severe problems with her knees… bad enough that she had a handicap parking permit. Granted, I don’t have all the details, but it wasn’t exactly a short term problem. Now she’s posting about training for a half marathon, and made a comment about the pain of training. Her trainer responds by telling her that she’ll just have to get used to the pain. Um, WTF?! Isn’t pain supposed to be a signal that we’re doing something that is injuring our bodies?
I don’t know if this old friend has had some changes in her medical situation since we were close in college. I can only hope that whatever issues she had before have been resolved and she’s just talking about the general soreness of building muscle and endurance. But reading that interaction between old friend and her trainer made me stop and think about other ways we push our bodies beyond their limits.
I’ll give you an example. I have severe allergies to grass. I happen to live in the grass seed growing capitol of the world. When the grass pollen begins spreading like it did last week, I’m essentially confined indoors until the worst of it is over. At best I get uncontrollable sneezing fits, my eyes and nose swell, water, and run, and I have difficulty breathing. Though I dearly love going outside for a walk along the creek or to do yoga on my little patio, I can’t do those things for about 6 weeks every summer so that I remain healthy and able to work. Even at that, I still occasionally have days where I need to stay home passed out on benadryl until the pollen dies down in the evening. I have a coworker at my current job who is just as allergic as I am to grass. Yet she makes the choice to mow her own lawn. And regardless of how bad my symptoms are, she still gets annoyed if I make a mistake or I’m mentally fuzzy thanks to my meds.
It’s maddening for someone like me, who expects more of themselves than is probably sane, to suddenly hit a wall and have to accept that I’m going to feel “out-of-it” for a few weeks. I find myself carefully walking the line between just-enough-medicine and not-quite-enough. Now I’m stepping back and wondering, why? Why am I pushing myself when my body clearly has a limit here? Most of the year I have plenty of spoons, but why can’t I allow myself to accept that for a few weeks I have a small handful to work with? (In a nutshell, the spoons reference is a commonly known story about explaining what living with a disability can be like. Each spoon represents the amount of effort a single task takes. Those with “unseen” disabilities like chronic fatigue, have to make hard decisions about what they can manage to accomplish each day without making themselves sick.) I know that my difficulty will pass and that I’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. But I still can’t seem to accept that I have different limits, different abilities when my allergies are being triggered and pushed to their limits.
I’m lucky that I have choices. I’m lucky that I know (for the most part) right where my limits are. I can chose to create a fairly healthy environment for myself right where I’m at. I can chose to ask for help when I know I need it. I can chose to educate my friends so that when I do venture outside this time of year, they can help me keep tabs on my symptoms and even take care of me if I go into a major reaction. And hopefully soon I’ll be able to chose to work within my limits rather than constantly pushing the envelope.
For now, I’ve got to go re-stock the benadryl.
I think at some point we’ve all had something that we’ve chosen not to do because we feared we were somehow physically or mentally unable to do it. This happens a lot, especially for women of size. Well, women in general, but larger women especially. We think that we’re “too big” to try canoeing or kayaking or whitewater rafting. We longingly remember our childhood love of horses while declining to try riding as an adult, for fear that our weight will hurt the horse tasked with carrying us. We fail to venture beyond the parking lot at the park for fear that we’re too out of shape to take on the trails.
I was personally forced to face those inner dialogues just 3 years ago, before I was really mentally prepared for how that would change my worldview. It was the summer of 2009, and like many people I was searching for a job after my previous position was eliminated in the declining economy. That sounds more dire than it really was, I had been a live in nanny for a family, and the parent took a pay cut to keep their job. That left the family without the resources to keep me on, and besides, the children were getting to an age where they needed to transition away from having a nanny anyway. So I had not only lost my job, but also my home. Frantically applying for anything I was remotely qualified for, I soon found myself interviewing to be a camp counselor for the Girl Scouts.
I had my doubts that I would be able to do all of the activities with the girls, but thought that my skills and expertise in other areas would allow me to trade off with more physically capable staff. Was I ever in for a surprise. Day two of training, all of the staff loaded into individual kayaks to paddle across the lake for a picnic. I approached my supervisor privately and explained my concern that I had never been able to find a life vest that fit my body without strangling me, and offered to sign a waiver and forgo wearing one. In no time flat she had me fitted into an ingenious life vest that has adjustable straps at the shoulder and sides that allowed the floatation part to fit around my torso rather than around my neck. I was shocked, but happy. I don’t doubt my swimming skills, but it’s nice to be able to participate in an activity without calling attention to yourself by needing special equipment. I quickly learned that the camp had purchased almost all of their life vests in this style so that they could accommodate all kinds of participants.
By the end of the summer I had done so many things that I had written off as not possible for me. I spent two and a half weeks on horseback with two amazing groups of campers, even riding on the beach twice, making an attempt at posting, and getting the horse up to a canter once or twice. Barb had been pestering me for years to go riding with her, but I had always begged off, afraid that I was too heavy. Regardless of what the activity was, the staff and participants at camp just assumed that I could do whatever they were doing, rather than assuming that I would need assistance, or accommodation, or a substitute.
And the amazing thing? My new-found belief in myself was contagious. Over the course of the summer, I had a small handful of campers who were dealing with crushing homesickness, or very low self esteem, or personal problems at home. In other circumstances, many of these girls would have cut their camp experience short and gone home before the end. But I was able to look them in the eye and say, “You know what, I didn’t think I could kayak. But my second day here I got in a kayak and paddled across the lake and back. If I can do that, you can make it through today. Because you’re strong, and capable, and nothing is impossible with your friends supporting you.”
It sounds cheesy to be a twenty-something and say that a summer at camp changed my life, but it did. I would not be where I am today without that experience behind me.
Now Barb and Bobby on the other hand, tell them that they can’t do something and they say “have a seat and watch me!”
I saw a critique somewhere out there on the interwebz today, the person writing felt that the fit on our sample garments was poor and didn’t do us justice in our photo shoot. That’s a completely valid opinion. I’ve mentioned it before, but we are still fine tuning the fit of the patterns, making them better.
Kickstarer puts us in a unique position for most consumers. Rather than seeing the final product ready to ship out, you’re seeing our prototype. You, our dear fans and friends, get to be a part of that creative process. We’ve received several questions and comments on Kickstarter regarding the color and types of fabrics we’ll be using to make the final product. The colors you see in our photo shoot? They may be some of the options available when we make that first batch of clothing. Then again, some of those colors might not be available from our wholesale supplier (the teal fabric, for example). Really want us to make a specific color available? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to find the color you want, and present it as one of the options. We’re still figuring out the best way to select the final color choices, but one of the options might be to select a range of colors and have our Kickstarter backers vote for their favorites. We’ll have to narrow it down to 5 or 6 final colors (to get the best price), but you might have a say in that process.
We also received a number of comments and questions about some of the more high performance fabrics that are available. We hadn’t planned on making those available until after Kickstarter. But due to the interest from our backers, we’ve started looking at the feasibility of offering those fabrics as an option to Kickstarter backers. We don’t have an answer yet on whether that will be possible, but it is something we’re looking into.
And back to the question of fit. There are two parts to this equation. First is that we are still making adjustments to the patterns to get them perfect (well, near perfect) for you. And the second is personal choice. Our sizes will work like this: we’ll tell you what measurement the garment was intended for and how much ease (extra room) there is beyond that measurement. So for example, say you have 52 inch hips and the pants have a 4 inch ease allowance. That means that if you order the 52″, the garment will measure 56″ at the hips. Now let’s say you have 52 inch hips but you’d like the pants to fit more closely that we’re showing them. If you ordered the 50″, you’ll have 2″ of ease at the hips. You might be tempted to order a 48″ for that skin tight look, but let me say right now that the fabric that we’re definitely offering is cotton knit, not spandex. Ordering something that tight is not going to be comfortable.
With all that said, here’s a look at the revised tank top that I just finished. This is going to be the final pattern for this garment. We kept the fullness through the tummy and hips, but tightened up the upper band for better fit. We also made the straps wider to better cover bra straps, and brought them closer to the center in the back to help prevent slipping strap while you’re active.
So what it boils down to is that we want your feedback. We want to know what you want from your clothes. We’re listening, and we’ll be honest about letting you know why or why not. And sometimes the answer is going to be, ‘that’s a great idea, we love it, but it’s going to have to wait a little while before it’s feasible.’ Come along on this journey with us. Help us reshape plus size fashion.
Real quick, before I get into the meat of today’s post, I wanted to mention that going forward we’re only going to be posting on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I did the solid week of posts leading into our Kickstarter kick-off and a few days after to help keep people engaged. Honestly, it’s a bit much to keep content prepped for the blog 7 days a week. All four of us are working full time and have lives and families as well. Well, I (Rene) don’t have much of a life, but there’s only so much of my babbling that you can take.
I’ve gotten to be a stats geek in the past 5 days. I love keeping the Kickstarter dashboard open, and also the stats page for the blog. For the blog, we’ve had more than a thousand views from people in 21 different countries. Every continent, except Antarctica. Our busiest day so far we had over 300 views. That’s great! And on Kickstarter, we’re already at 29.7% funded. When you browse Kickstarter and go to the Fashion section and click to see the popular projects, we’ve been in the top several lines since we launched. We have 50 backers so far, with an average pledge of $65.30. We need to average about $370 in pledges each day to meet our goal… so as of this morning we would have needed to be at $1480. Instead, we’re at more than double that, $3265.
We do still have a long way to go, though. We still need to receive pledges totaling $7735 to meet our goal. Don’t forget that Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing deal… if we don’t hit that goal, we receive NO funding at all.
I have to admit though, sitting at 29% after only 4 days, I’m pretty confident that we’ll meet our goal. You might be wondering what happens if we meet our goal before the deadline. Do we stop and get our funding earlier than planned? Nope. The project stays up on Kickstarter through our deadline, even if we’ve already reached our goal. We can continue receiving pledges after we reach goal as well. If you poke around Kickstarter a bit, you’ll see that some projects double or triple their goals, or even more. A musician recently raised over a million dollars in her Kickstarter campaign, even though her goal was only $100k.
So what happens if/when we go over goal?
That depends on how much over goal we go. If we hit about $700 over goal, we can purchase a professional grade sewing machine with embroidery capability so that we can put our logo on each piece as well as start expanding into other types of clothing. If we hit about $2000 over goal, we can get the sewing machine, plus a large format tablet to use with our pattern making software. That will allow me to make up something new by creating it in 3D on my dress form, then take it apart and trace the pieces directly into the software and create an instant pattern that can be made in any size. These two tools would greatly expand our ability to offer new and different items, and speed the process up quite a bit.
And if we go over that amount too? I haven’t let myself dream that big just yet. Give me a week or two.
I really struggled with how to share this story with all of you. I knew that I would share this story, but how to write it has escaped me. I tried writing while I was still angry, but I think that narrative is best left in the recycle bin on my computer screen. I tried to make peace with it. But that just made me angry again. Maybe I’d better back up and give you a little background.
About a week and a half ago, I went to the grocery store before going to work. I was working an evening shift, so this was late morning. I had noticed a very irritating customer harassing the cashier (whose line had gone from 2 people to 8 people in less than 30 seconds… it happens). The cashier caught my eye and directed me to another register since I was the next person in line that hadn’t unloaded their basket yet. I got to the new register and sure enough, annoying customer (and by the way, she hadn’t been in line at all, just jumped ahead of about 6 other people who were waiting politely) gets in line behind me and tries to start up a conversation with me bashing the cashier. Of course, she’s barking up the wrong tree with me… so I tell her firmly that she’s just being a jerk. This was apparently license for this woman to verbally assault me for the next 3-5 minutes while we wait for the new cashier to arrive and ring up my purchase. I’ve gotten pretty good at tuning these sorts of people out, and at one point I was actually chuckling that this person was still going on and on about how I have no right to even speak to her. And since attacking my actions was getting her nowhere, she decided to go bigger.
She called me a fat pig, to my face, in front of the cashier and at least 4 other customers.
And continued insulting my size and appearance as I walked out the door. At the door, I turned back, smiled, gave my best graceful parade wave, and said “You have a good day ma’am, and you just keep letting those prejudices show!”
As a society, we accept and protect diversity on so many levels. The color of your skin, your mental and physical abilities, your sexual preferences, your religion… had someone insulted you publicly based on any of these traits, there would have been an immediate outcry. The person making those comments would have been asked to leave the store. An apology would have been issued, either by the person making the comments or by a representative of the store. But the size of my body is fair game for nasty, hateful comments from a random stranger.
I know there are some that would argue that weight is a controllable trait and that because my weight is “my fault” that somehow it’s ok, or at least less bad, that someone has publicly humiliated me about it. But think about that for a moment. If someone was confined to a wheelchair because they made a choice to participate in a risky stunt, does that make it ok for anyone to insult or harass that person? Or to come at it from another direction, if I were in the midst of a weight loss program, would it be less acceptable for someone to insult me? And if that’s the case, then what about the many, many people out there who have medical conditions that cause weight gain, or have to take medications that cause weight gain? Should they have to chose between their health and a life full of public bullying?
I think that bullying is the key here. When someone is a bully, they don’t stop to ask a person’s circumstances before they begin insulting and intimidating them. No one deserves to be bullied, whether they can change themselves or not.
P.S. I’m not going to address the debate regarding whether long term weight loss is possible. I think we can, and should, be able to have a dialogue about weight discrimination without discussing weight loss. Because for the foreseeable future, there are going to be fat people in our society, a lot of them, and I don’t see that changing. I also don’t believe that the solution to weight discrimination is weight loss. Because if all the fat people lost weight and got into the “normal” range, it would just narrow the range of weight… I still believe that there would be discrimination against people who were at the higher end of the range (I’m fully aware that underweight people experience stigma and discrimination as well, and I think we all benefit from ending discrimination and bullying based on size).
Have you ever heard the phrase “If I had a nickle for every time someone told me….” Sometimes it’s a dime. Sometimes it’s a quarter. The denomination seems to depend on the speaker’s history and penchant for hyperbole. I’ve even said it myself a few times.
I remember hearing a story as a kid. This is hugely paraphrased, and was much more riveting coming from the wonderful author/storyteller that I was privileged to meet several times as a kid. I can’t remember his name, but if you know who he is, please leave a comment so I can credit him properly. The story goes like this: there was a man who was considered “stupid” by the other people in the town. And any time that came into question, say when a traveler came through, a particularly mean towns-person would prove it by offering the man a dime or a nickle. He would always choose the nickle, and the towns-person would always ask why. The man would simply reply, “Because it’s bigger.” As if this was an obvious fact. One day one of the travelers followed the man home, intent on saving him from further humiliation by explaining that a dime, while smaller in size, was worth more money. The man smiled, opened up a closet filled with jars full of nickles and said, “But if I pick the dime, they won’t give me nickles no more.”
I know that I have doubters among my family and friends. People who smile and act excited when I talk about this project while silently thinking that this will never work. We all do. I’ve found that people are especially skeptical of the concept of Kickstarter. After all, it’s a little unbelievable that we could possibly raise several thousands of dollars in just a month, by getting a bunch of people to pledge small amounts of money.
And so it’s sort of ironic that this is exactly how Kickstarter works for us. It allows ordinary people to say, I have an idea, and allows others to contribute what seams like an insignificant amount of money… just a dollar. But if enough people pitch in that small contribution, that idea becomes a reality.
Some of you might be thinking that you’d like to pledge, but you aren’t sure how much money you’ll have left at the end of the month and don’t want to miss out on rewards because you pledged before you realized you had enough. The great news is that Kickstarter allows you to adjust your pledge amount until the end of our campaign. So if you like, you can pledge $1 today, and at the end of the month kick it up to $10 or $25 if you have it to spare. And you will have a chance to select the reward for the higher level if you’d like.
You might also be thinking, “Hey, this is a cool idea, but I don’t really need a tote bag or work out gear.” Kickstarter also allows you the option to skip the reward if you’d rather. Or, maybe you know someone who could use it as a gift (in that case, when we get all of your info at the end, we’ll have an option to send the reward as a gift).
Today is the third day of our Kickstarter campaign. As of last night, we had received pledges for $1,005. Nearly 10% of our goal in just two days! How amazing is that?!
Maybe when this is all over, we’ll be saying “We got a dollar for every time someone said they loved our idea, and now Pigs are Flying!”
About two weeks ago, I issued a challenge to the Flying Pig Apparel readers to set different goals and aim for three 30 minute work outs every week. How is that going for you? Have you forgotten about it already? If you’re just joining us, the idea is simple. A total of 90 minutes of physical activity spread over at least 3 days each week is enough to significantly reduce the risk of many so-called obesity related diseases and problems. It’s one of 4 simple habits that can even the playing field when it comes to health across all weight categories.
To review, the habits are:
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products
- Drink moderately (2 or less per day for men, 1 or less a day for women)
- Eat a balanced diet including at least 5 servings of fruit or vegetables a day
- Be active at least 12 days out of every month (about 3 days a week)
It’s just that simple. Those 4 easy things take obesity from a death sentence to a body size. And it’s important to note that the study that this information came from didn’t look at how long a person was active or how intense the work out was, simply that they were active 12 or more days in any given month. So if what you can do is dance in your chair (or car seat) to the radio, go for it. My Grandma always gives me an amused look when I start this with her, but sure enough, she’ll wave her arms around and wiggle in her wheel chair if I keep it up. Maybe she’s just humoring me so I’ll shut up, but it still counts! :) I love to get out and take a walk along a nearby creek that has a fabulous bike path. I like watching the little ducklings grow up every spring.
So even if you break your 30 minutes up into 3 10-minute walks, it still counts. Heck, you could do about 13 minutes of activity 7 days a week and still be golden. Or 15 minutes 6 days a week, and rest on the 7th day. If all you can manage in your 30 minutes is to walk to the end of the block and back, that’s perfectly fine. Or maybe just a lap around the house. All that matters is that you do something.
Here’s my report:
Week 1 (May 13-19) – Two 45-60 minute walks, and the photo shoot for Flying Pig Apparel.
Week 2 (May 20-26) – I struggled this week because it turned cold, wet and windy on me and I was uninspired to go for a walk. So I ran through my stretching routine and yoga in the living room.
Week 3 (May 27-June 2) – One hour and a half hike on Memorial day (with the hottie from the range, woohoo!), plus two more 45-60 minute walks on my favorite creek side path.
My walks are all a lot longer than the amount of time set for the challenge. I do that for a couple of reasons. First off, I’m on my feet walking 5-9 hours a day for my job, so I’m used to putting in several miles a day. Secondly, the path I walk on has a good turning around point at about mile 1.5, so I walk a total of just under 3 miles in my hour. And last but not least, I don’t pressure myself to go any set speed, I just walk at a comfortable pace for me.
If you’ve been reading anything we’ve had to say over the last month, you know that we believe that everyone should be able to be active in clothing that fits them well, is durable, and looks good on their body. We believe strongly that no one should be turned away because they don’t fit into the given size chart. And that no matter what your goals are, the clothes available to you should not be just another obstacle to fitness.
Now is the time to make this a reality. You don’t need to have the money in your account right now, but if you know you’ll have a few extra dollars at the end of the month and believe in what we’re doing, pledge your support. You won’t be charged until the campaign is successful, so early July. Not sure that you can pledge your financial support? You can also show your support by sharing us with your family and friends. Whether you share our Facebook page or direct someone to our Twitter feed, the more people who hear about Flying Pig Apparel, the better our chances of success.
I know $11,000 sounds like a lot of money. It still kind of freaks me out to think in dollar amounts that large (that’s why Bobby is in charge of the money). But think of it this way… we only need 220 of our friends and fans to pre-order a tank or tee by pledging $50. Or this way… if 2,200 people hear about Flying Pig Apparel this month, only 10% of them need to decide to support us by pledging $50. So every “like” we get on Facebook helps us. Every “follow” we get on Twitter gets us one step closer to our goal. And every time you tell a friend “hey, I saw this really cool start-up online last night…” and tell them about Flying Pig Apparel, you’re helping change the face of plus size clothing for the better.
So don’t put it off. Follow the link right now. Pledge your support, and be one of the 220 people it takes to make this happen.