The Strutter Q&A: Emma Medeiros
We're in the midst of a plus size revolution. Every day, we're learning of new businesses, blogs and fashion lines dedicated to the plus size industry.
When you're a building a new business, you're looking for ways to get the word out about your new venture. Many hire public relations firm to represent them to tastemakers around the country, but very few deal with those same people in the plus size world.
Enter Emma Medeiros, owner of Medeiros Fashion Public Relations. Last year, Medeiros launched the very first PR firm in the U.S. focusing on plus size fashion industry. Medeiros aided several plus size businesses get much-needed visibility to the people who are demanding it the most.
Medeiros, originally from Providence, RI, earned a Integrated Marketing Communications degree at Emerson College in 2012. That same year, she got married and launched a blog called Curves, Cats, and Creams. Medeiros took time out her never-ending schedule to share with Strutter her motivation to keep plus size businesses in the public eye.
What inspires you personally? There's so much untapped potential in the plus size industry. The majority of the women are plus size but people say there's no market for plus size clothes. It's ridiculous. I'm giving them a voice and showing that, yes, there is a market for us. Give women more options for plus size clothing. Keep the conversation clothing. It's like segregation in the ‘60s separate but equal. It didn't work then, and it won't work now.
What challenges did you face launching your business?
Any small biz owner knows you wear a lot of hats. There are no business hours. A lot of people have accused me of promoting obesity, which is not true because I recognize that obesity is unhealthy. What I DO promote is feeling beautiful and positive because that will make you want to take better care of yourself. The first step is feeling good, and you want to keep it going so you might eat better and go to the gym.
What was the most important piece of feedback you've received about your business?
To network, network, and network some more. I'm constantly networking online, over the phone, and in person every day. It's PR...Public Relations and the relationships I have with my contacts are by far the most important part of my business. I'm really comfortable with talking to someone don't know at events. My husband says, "How can you go up to someone you don't know?!” Sometimes it's hard to build relations online so going to events and seeing people face-to-face is important.
Who is your ideal client?
I look for someone who’s doing something really unique. My favorite Coco Chanel quote is "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” It's so true. There's so much more competition out there now. Since journalists get so many emails every day and don't have time to open most of them, I only have the subject line to grab their attention, I've become good at getting to the nitty gritty of what makes my client different. Like with Curvy Chic Closet, the largest plus size consignment in North America. Twice a year in the spring and fall you can literally get a new wardrobe for pennies, which was something that attracted me. It's not just a clothing swap that may or may not have plus size. It's a four-day long event for plus size with a fashion show in the bargain.
I remember my college professor talking about a job interview he was on in which the interviewer asked him point blank "What makes you so f*ing special?' However they phrase it, people want to know what makes you so different from the other designers, retailers, photographers, models out there? I paint a picture of my client's brand and make sure people want to be part of it. If my clients are smart, they focus on the emotion of the brand. For example, with Curvy Chic Closet, I use words like "indulge" in clothing. It paints a picture in your head of something you really want to do. What do I want this person to feel when they're reading your press release? I want the person to feel like, "I have to be there." Like Saundra MacKay's The Measure of Love, a romance novel about a full figured women dealing with the challenges of dating in a thin-obsessed world as well as feeling trapped between her love for two men. It's a very relatable story.
If you could go back in time 10 years, what advice would you give yourself?
Don't take no for an answer. It's hard to swallow when you're told not to do something. If it's from someone you love, at least consider it first. But you need to do something you love. For instance, I want to move to New York City. My parents think I'm insane. They think it's dirty and crime ridden. My parents’ hearts are in the right place, they're just concerned that I'm OK. Don't be afraid to take risks as long as you calculate the risks. If you know in your heart that it's right, do it. Consider the opinions of people you love, but don't let them rule you. Thankfully, I've realized that in the last few years. Ten years ago, I wasn't quite there yet, but I started to realize it. You have to live your own life, bottom line!
Photo credit: Jayme Aronson of JLA Photography