Mallorie Dunn- Smart Glamour Designer– Interview

About:

SmartGlamour is an affordable, fashionable clothing line for women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and heights. We make plus size clothing, straight size clothing, petite clothing, tall clothing, and everything in between and beyond. Every piece is made in NYC with love – just for you.

SmartGlamour is a what and a how. I don’t just want you to buy my clothes. I want you to buy the clothes that you want – that you need – that you go into your closet to look for but don’t exist. I want you to create the pieces you need for your life, style, and body that will empower you to feel more confident and use that feeling to take steps in the journey to love your body.

SmartGlamour has three main very broad goals: to empower women through clothing and help them on a road to body acceptance, to make good quality clothing that is sold at affordable prices, and to cut away at women on women hate that stems from insecurity and the belief that beauty and brains can not go hand in hand.

The next time you need a basic fashion staple, you have a bad shopping experience because of your size, you feel shamed by other women or society, or you have a difficult time finding pieces that fit correctly without alterations – shop here instead. Read what I write, follow us on social media and read the items we share. Change your thinking. Don’t let your insecurities create negativity between you and other women. And don’t let other people tell you your insecurities are not valid.

We are all born different – embrace that. Own your body – and dress it accordingly.

Mallorie Dunn is a NYC based Fashion Designer. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute she had many corporate design jobs before deciding to switch to a life of freelance work. Through the freedom a freelance schedule allows her – she was able to launch her line, SmartGlamour, that she has been creating designs for since 2007. (SmartGlamour as it is today was not launched until February 2014.)

SmartGlamour morphed into what it is today after many discussions about women’s body image issues and the lack of accurate representation of women in the media. Always having the desire to make clothes – Mallorie found her real passion behind the designs when she realized she could help women with her garments. She’s excited as SmartGlamour continues to grow into a even more fully realized movement of body positivity and overall wellness for women.

Additionally, Mallorie considers herself to be a teacher, seamstress, artist, stylist, and writer. She is constantly searching for new ways to express herself, better herself, and help others. SmartGlamour is a culmination of all of these things.

Questions:

     1. I love your fall collection! Tell me about when you started designing and how did that come about? 

I have been designing and making clothes since I was in high school. I had always been interested in fashion but didn’t know that designing was actually “a thing” so I thought it would be best to be a teacher.

In high school I took the Fashion Design program that my school offered and after I graduated attended FIT and continued on at Pratt to complete my degree. After Pratt I started working in junior fashion for 4 years because I thought that would be a fun area to work in.

However, I found that corporate design was not very fulfilling so I started doing freelance design. I was one of the few people who knew how to draw and sketch designs and also make the clothes. For about a year I did freelance and was able to do a wide variety of things- sketching, designing, alterations, tailoring, and also custom pieces. This is where I began to think that I wanted to make my own line and do my own designs, but I couldn’t quite find the “drive” to get it going yet.

I remember talking with my (now) husband about how women have hardships with how they feel about their bodies – this is something I have always been passionate about. Whenever a group of friends would get together, all it took was one negative comment about their body and everyone would talk the same way about themselves. I had a lot of conversations with friends and loved ones to get to the root of what the problem was. I feel that a lot of it stems from how hard it is to find something that fits just right.

Everyone is obsessed with numbers, even though they don’t mean much. People are misrepresented in the media with Photoshop and people feel they have to look like that even though it is not reality. It’s really just not achievable.

So I decided I wanted to create a company that would solve all these things. From the beginning I was very transparent about how the clothes were made and the sizing. I gave customers options and customization.  Customers can get a perfect fit and the clothing is made ethically. I’ve combined all the things I believed in and wanted to do. Providing lots of options has always been important.

As I progressed, body positivity became more important. There are some companies getting on board with the body positive movement but they are more interested in being part of the growth but not necessarily how it affects people.

Making my clients happy and feeling good is top priority. I had one customer who ordered a 5X dress from the site, but she did not follow the measurements on the site so the dress did not fit. She contacted me and apologized for the error so I re-made the dress to the correct sizing and she was able to go to her party on New Year’s which she could not have done otherwise, because she had nothing else to wear.

     2. Would you say that your designs have a particular style and do you think your style has changed over the years? 

My styles typically lean toward retro and vintage looks – a combination of old Hollywood glamour and New York City working girl. It is really important to me that my clothing is affordable but that is not usually the way ethically made clothing is priced. I try very hard to keep my prices reasonable so it keeps costs down so it can be affordable for everyone. When it comes to pricing I always look at how long it will take to make an item, the cost of fabric and other considerations.

     3. Where do you get the inspirations for your designs? Tell be a bit about your creative process. 

I am inspired by what I see on the street and at fashion shows. I like to listen to my customers a lot and aim to make what they are saying they want to wear. I try not to follow the trends necessarily so that clothing lasts longer. I prefer classics for this reason – they will remain in a woman’s closet longer.  There are certain items that are standards like circle skirts, wrap dresses, pencil skirts, basic pants, etc.) and I will bring them back in different colors or fabrics.

     4. What are some of the challenges that you experience when designing? 

I don’t feel that I have any design challenges. I often get asked if it is hard to price things that are small through larger items but I don’t have much of an issue there. I am very transparent about my designs and encourage people to wear what they like, especially if it’s available in their size. It is really important to me to de-program negative thinking about body sizes.

I manage pretty much everything on my own – designing, website and marketing. I try to answer and reach out to emails and comments as they come in. I receive lots of repeat orders and really feel that it is because of the personal level of customer service I offer which is so important. It is difficult to compete against other companies who have the money to do marketing and advertising but it is totally worth it because this is what I care about and love.

I often hear from people who appreciate what I do with my designs, even if they have not become customers yet – they get a sense that they are ok as they are and that they are enough. Last year I had a pop-up shop and one woman came into chat. She said it was like being starved for her life and then suddenly getting food. Another woman said she is just now starting to wear short sleeves. She has always covered up her arms because she didn’t like the look of them. This is why I do what I do.

     5. What piece of clothing have you designed that you are the most proud of and why? 

I’m very proud of every item that I have designed and made. I recently posted a picture of my own closet because I realized that it is almost all my own stuff. I love that my clothes are customizable so I can adjust to exactly what my customer wants.

     6. Tell me about your own personal journey to body positivity. 

I am a thin, white woman and I am very aware that the way I look has gotten me things that were not reachable to some. However, living in a body positive community has helped me on my own personal journey. I feel that clothes have helped me the most in my journey, and this is why I like to do the same for others.

In high school, I would take clothes apart and make them the way I wanted them to be. This was my self-expression and made me feel more confident. When people have something special to put on they feel better about themselves. I feel that if people spent their days in PJs they would just want to have naps all day long, but when people put something on that makes them feel good, it affects their day and changes their mood.  For example, I feel like my life is more together when my nails are done.

     7. Do you have a designer that is an inspiration to you? 

When I was younger, I really admired Betsy Johnson because her models always looked so happy. They looked like they were having a good time. Clothes should be fun like that. My models have to look happy – not shrunken, tired, or angry. Many of my models have never modeled before but they learn to laugh and enjoy themselves and so do my regular models.

After shows I always hear from the audience that the models looked so happy and that they were having a good time. When you put a group of people in a room and tell them they are “all beautiful”, amazing things happen. I always tell them they are all equal and there is no competition. People feel so good about themselves, that they start supporting each other and cheering each other on. Some of them have actually become friends outside the modeling world.

Sometimes people see another person dressed a certain way and they immediately assume certain things about them. I feel that this comes from a place of insecurity. We live in a society that makes us feel like we are always trying to reach an unachievable goal, that when we see someone who seems to have achieved that goal, we think less of ourselves and it creates animosity. But when I put all these different types of people in a group and tell them that they are all beautiful and special, it makes them all feel more confident about themselves.

     8. What kind of feedback have you received from your customers in terms of clothing style, fit and quality? 

 About a year ago 1/3 of my customers were repeat buyers and I expect that this number is higher now.  This speaks volumes in regards to customer satisfaction along with the great feedback I receive. Due to the nature of being a small business and the ability to remember names of customers I’ve shipped to certainly helps and I can keep tabs a little closer. Word of mouth is also a big help when it comes to spreading the word about my line.  A lot of my models have become my customers as well. Even though there are some people who can never be pleased, for the most part, the comments I receive are positive.

     9. What are your future plans for your line?

I have a slightly different trajectory than most companies. I don’t want to lose the ‘specialness’ that I have with the customers I do this custom work for. I do however want to change the way people shop. In time I would like to have a full time store where people can come in and shop all sizes. There is no place else where an extra small person can shop in the same store as a plus-size person. After that I may want to expand the store into other centers. I would still oversee the operation to ensure customer satisfaction. I want to start really small and then expand from that point.

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