Looking Back on a Wild Year

Posted on December 31 2023

Looking Back on a Wild Year

2023 was a doozy!

We had SO MANY great experiences. We started events back up, got tons of press (some that still blows my mind), connected and expanded our community, and made some changes to our space.

It was also one of the toughest years (for us and for small businesses everywhere.)

While we accomplished so much this year, it was also really hard to survive. It's such a weird contrast to feel like you have so many new opportunities but also are struggling to keep the doors open.

But a lot of my small business owner friends expressed similar struggles.

We couldn't have kept our doors open with you.

From shopping, attending our events, donating to our gofundme, and telling people about our little shop - THANK YOU.

This brand, the space, and everything we do is a love letter.

A love letter to you, to fat people everywhere, to my younger self, and to anyone that needs to feel seen, welcome, and worthy of expressing their personal style.

Because your body is worthy of adorning it however you desire.

So thank you for being here through it all.

I thought we should take a look back at the year to see just how much we've experienced together.

Lovers and Friends Market - I've always loved producing events but we hadn't had one since pre-2020.

Since I was able to host an event in the green space behind the shop, I thought it was time to finally put together something fun.

I compiled plus size clothing vendors and designers along with vendors and makers that carried vintage housewares, portraits, candles, bouquets, tattoos, and more.

The overall feedback I received from this event was that everyone felt like a friend!

Hosting an event that feels warm and welcoming is all I ever want, so I was so moved that everyone had such a great time.

That's all thanks to our vendors and customers.

Two of the attendees even got my art tattooed on them, which is something I will probably never get over.

Good Morning LA segment - When someone reached out to me from one of my silly little tiktoks, I thought maybe they'd just feature us on their own tiktok.

I was wrong. They wanted to do a full blown feature on Good Morning LA.

I was SO NERVOUS. I had never been interviewed for a news segment like this and public speaking is scary.

It was such a cool opportunity, I knew I had to push through those fears and do it anyway.

So, I asked some friends to come model (and maybe provide moral support.)

I am so proud that I did this, and I think the interview came out great and really honored our name sake, my grandmother.

Watch the segment here!

Our first workshops - We've done events for so long but I've always wanted to offer workshops where you can learn something in a welcoming space.

Through our Valentine's market, I met Taylor. She's a florist, among other things. And she offered such lovely bouquets at the market that I asked her to teach our very first workshop.

It was such a lovely and fun time with friends, tea, and floral arranging!

Later in the year, we also enlisted Mary (who also popped up with us a couple of times this year) to teach a workshop I've been wanting to do since we opened this space: Fat Figure Drawing.

Our model was another friend met through an event this year. Benny was one of our runway models for the WLW fashion show (read more on that below.)

The workshop was such a cool experience! I loved focusing on a fat body when learning art techniques. 

LGBTQ+ center WLW fashion show and market - When the LGBT center reached out to ask us to participate in the WLW fashion show, I was floored.

Not only do they do such great work in LA, but Roxanne Gay was the keynote speaker.

So, I said yes and got to work producing some new designs. We put original pieces along with reworked vintage and hand printed denim down the runway.

This was such an amazing opportunity. 

Our first industry chat panel - I hate public speaking. Lol. But after all the press and events, I felt myself getting more comfortable this year.

Since I have so many talented friends in the fashion industry, I really wanted to get them together to talk about the unique experiences and challenges working in both corporate and indie spaces that produce plus size clothing.

This event was such an informative and cool experience. I'm so glad that I was able to get these talented women together to talk about their experiences.

Thank you to our panelists, moderator, and to everyone that attended in person or virtually!

The first Thick Thrift - If you know me, you know I'm passionate about creating physical spaces for fat people.

Whether it's a market or an opportunity to gather and build community.

So when an organizer from Thick Thrift popped in to tell me about this event they were planning, I was SO EXCITED!

The first Thick Thrift was like a fever dream. I saw old friends, met new friends, and saw folks fall in love with plus size vintage pieces all day.

We even got to chat with a journalist for a piece that ended up in NPR! Listen here.

I've been lucky to vend with Thick Thrift again and really appreciate the amazing job the organizers do to create a fun space where you can shop plus size clothing and accessories.

Belly Laughs comedy show - I've organized and produced quite a few comedy shows that center plus size comics.

Because I think it's important to experience joy.

But it had been YEARS (we all know why!) since putting our last show on.

I reached out to Ever Mainard, who I've been a fan of for years, to ask if they'd host a show at the shop and they said YES!

We asked a few of our favorite comics to perform and it was such a fun night. I can't wait to do this one again!

Proud Mary in Bust magazine! - I still struggle to truly express how much this means to me.

When Lina Lecaro reached out to feature us in Bust, I assumed it would be a roundup on their website (and I was really excited!)

When she came in to the store to chat, she told me it would be a single page feature in the print version.

Excuse me?

Internally, I was screaming. But I had to keep it cool to get through the interview.

We ended up featured in their 30th anniversary issue with Boy Genius on the cover.

This is really a highlight for me and I will cherish my copy forever!

See the feature (also on their website) here.

Lil Fatties podcast - Looking back on how much I got to speak about Proud Mary, my grandmother, and our goals this year has been incredible.

I loved chatting with friends of the shop Taylor and Bailey for their second season opening episode of the Lil Fatties podcast.

The title they chose couldn't be more perfect - Mary's Terry Cloth Romper.

Check out the episode here.

5 Years at this location and 12 years of Proud Mary - 12 years ago I got friends together with pizza and PBR and we did our very first ever Proud Mary photo shoot.

Back then, I was doing markets and I was also starting an etsy. Something I had wanted to do forever.

Who knew where that would lead. Now it's been 12 years since we launched, 8 years since our first fat-centered event, 8 years since we launched original clothing, and 5 years at our current location.

A new coat of paint - In celebration of our 5 year shop anniversary, I was finally able to convince our landlord to let us paint the outside of the shop.

It has been garnet and gold forever and it didn't match the inside. We constantly have people tell us they didn't know we were here!

So he said yes and we got to work!

We launched a gofundme that helped us get the outside painted, make some additional small changes, and keep the doors open during an especially difficult time.

It is hard to ask for help and we so appreciate each and everyone of you that donated, shared the fundraiser, had kind words, and came in to shop.

Our gofundme is still up here.

Featured in Jr Hi Magazine - We ended the year strong with a fun editorial in Jr Hi Magazine.

I've been to a few events at Jr Hi's space and love the work they do to uplift queer artists.

So I was really excited when they reached out to feature us!

I'm used to being behind the camera and was a bit nervous to be the subject of another photographer. But I'm so glad I did. The feature turned out so fun and I loved the write-up.

I'm really proud of this feature and everything we've accomplished this year.

Read the full feature here.

2023 has been a rollercoaster ride unlike I've ever experienced. Running a small business is always unpredictable but this year had the most ups and downs of all.

I'm excited to see what else is on our path and hope you'll be here with us.

Proud Mary til the wheels fall off. 💕



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