Hello Lovelies! Hannah here, the Designer and Owner of Belle Ampleur.
I wanted to write today a little about the things that are on my heart. Firstly, I want to say thank you so much for your support and your words of encouragement. I read every single email, Facebook message, Instagram post, or G chat, and my heart is full of love for each of you. I learn something every single time you reach out, and this will only enable me serve you better.
Recently we had our first pop up shop hosted by Sassafras, with custom truffles provided by Emerald City Cakes and Chocolates, and a signature cocktail created by Glass Vodka, and it was a big success! I had the opportunity to meet so many of you, and see my clothes on real people for the first time. How thrilling and terrifying and mind blowing!
I learned that I need to work on my sizing, and tweak it to make it just perfect! I will be working with a local company in Seattle that specializes in pattern grading and sizing to ensure my clothes fit your curves beautifully. This also means I will be making a sizing chart for my website in preparation for online shopping! THIS IS HUGE! I am targeting the online shop to open by Spring of 2018, so keep your eyes peeled for the countdown, and fingers crossed I can get it all done! There will also be some samples along the way that I will be selling at a steep discount before we launch online.
Many of you signed up to be fit models for me at the event. I will be sending out emails about that soon. If you want to be a fit model for me, send an email to email@example.com! Locals only please, as I cannot provide travel or accommodations.
Here are a few photos from our pop up shop! Click through to check it out!
I am also working on an event for the next year in the Pacific Northwest in conjunction with body positive businesses and speakers, and I cannot wait to share more about this with you! As soon as things are confirmed, we will be making an announcement! It is going to be huge, so check back often for details!
On a personal note: there are so many challenges in the apparel industry, and what I am trying to make into a reality is exponentially more difficult, as it is a niche market: luxury plus size. I have had many industry insiders tell me it isn't possible, that my dream is too expensive to turn a profit, that no one wants quality woven garments anymore. "Stretch is king!", they say, and laugh when I talk of silk and cotton and linen and leather.
Garments now are mostly made in overseas factories for pennies on the dollar, by exploited workers with minimal protections. I am bucking that practice with Belle Ampleur. Currently I personally make each garment by hand, in my home studio in Seattle. I don't pay myself a wage, and I have another full time job that I work to make this dream a reality. My hope is to raise enough money this year to partner with Seattle Sewn, Seattle Made and Muses to have my garments manufactured here in Washington. Here is a little excerpt from the Seattle Good Business Network about the program I want to participate in:
"By providing apparel production training and job placement services, along with a freelance studio for skilled sewers and ongoing research on the needs of the sewn-goods sector, our two nonprofits are working together to address Seattle’s acute need for skilled sewers and flexible well-paid employment for low-income residents (primarily immigrants and refugees). Together we are working to lay the foundation for a thriving and sustainable place-based sewn goods industry."
It is important to me that anyone who works with Belle Ampleur is paid fairly and is treated with respect. I believe in supporting my community, and developing the talent and skills of those most in need of jobs, while preserving the integrity of my vision. My garments are not inexpensive and take time to make, because I believe that quality over quantity is the correct path for Belle Ampleur. I would rather pay a living wage to a stitcher here in the U.S.A. than make a garment overseas for a massive profit. I am working intentionally, methodically, slowly, to build a business that will grow over time and maintain a sense of identity, purpose, and integrity. I invite you to join me on this journey, and embrace our slow fashion, high quality, ethical mission here at Belle Ampleur.
Thank you all for your belief in me, my company, and my vision.