Jessica Kane is a mother, wife, spokeswoman, entrepreneur and a blogging pioneer who has been recognized by USA Today, CNN.com and CocoPerez.com. Almost everyone in the plus size fashion industry will know her as the Executive Vice President & Creative Director of Society Plus, the owner/publisher SKORCH Magazine, and the owner of the popular blog: Life & Style of Jessica.
This was a really enlightening interview and I came out of it feeling inspired to pursue my dreams like Jessica has in this industry.
Check out my interview with Jessica below if you want to learn what it’s like to be a wonder woman!
Natasha: How did you initially make your way into plus size fashion?
Jessica: I started as a shopper. I was 24 years old living my entire life without fashion at that point – I was in track and field and wore Nike pants. After living in a small town, I moved to Portland Oregon, which was huge to me, where I stumbled upon Torrid in a mall. That experience actually ended up changing my entire life. I walked in and saw all these different types of clothes that could fit me that looked amazing – it was actually what prompted me to start Skorch Magazine. It was a way for me to provide other women the feeling I had when I stumbled upon plus size fashion and share that information with others because I had personally no clue about Torrid or other brands in plus and there wasn’t that much online about plus size fashion, back in the early 2000’s.
Natasha: Can you briefly describe your involvement with Cool Gal Blue?
Jessica: Cool Gal Blue was started by Michelle Crawford around the fall of 2014 and around 2015, she reached out to advertise in Skorch and my blog. I was excited to speak with her and meet new people in plus size fashion. After chatting with her and learning more and I quickly learned that she was the real deal and was going to be huge. She had all the business side of things lined up and was doing some amazing things. Most importantly, her mission aligned with my mission: to disrupt the traditional retail system. She was a fellow renegade and I loved it. At that time, I wanted to add a shopping element to Skorch. So we meet over the course of a weekend and decided to join our businesses. It was an amazing opportunity for me to be a part of a startup and a team that were doing all the right things. So, three weeks later, my family packed our things and I moved to Florida where Michelle was based.
Natasha: What prompted the re-branding to Society Plus?
Jessica: We always had the intention of making our business more than just about clothes & retail, but a society/community/sisterhood that also had shopping and content, so we needed a name to truly reflecting what we were building here. My goal for Society Plus is for it to become the Kate Spade of plus size in the sense of the style and mentality but not the price point.
Natasha: Can you describe a typical day in your life?
Jessica: Every minute of my day is scheduled! I wake up around 6:30 AM. Take my son to school. Grab oatmeal and take 30 minutes in the morning to get caught up on Bustle, Refinery 29, Women’s Wear, The Wall Street Journal then I dive into my email, managing my own brand, Skorch and meetings with our various team members on the executive team and in marketing, as well as calls with investors and advisors. We also have a warehouse here, where I go to manage the quality of new inventory. I try to leave the office around 6 PM. After dinner and family time, then I work until midnight. Usually, I work to “junk tv” on in the background when I’m on my computer at night.
Natasha: What’s your favorite item from Society Plus?
Jessica: I am in love with the Chicest Of Them All Vest! That was a piece I worked directly with the manufacturer on with samples and finalizing on exactly what I wanted, so when it arrived, it was literally my dream piece – so that was the best!
Natasha: Other than Society Plus – who are your current favorite plus size designers and what in particular do you love about each of them?
Jessica: I love what Eloquii is doing;I think Torrid is cool; I love the Christian Seriano collaboration with Lane Bryant – it’s beautiful; I can’t wait for Ashley Nell Tipton’s line with JC Penny, I love Rebdolls, I love the great quality of Chubby Cartwheels, Ready to Stare because you can actually do something different – it’s nice and refreshing; I also love what Simply Be is doing. I love independence, so any brand that can bring something different to the mix is exciting to me, but for the most part, everyone is really on their game these days!
Natasha: What progress, would you say, has been made in the past 10 years in the body positive movement?
Jessica: OMG – It has been amazing. We have gone from zero to 160. Putting Ashley Graham on anything is monumental. In the past, I have seen token things where we have some type of representation in few campaigns – like one page in a major magazine about plus size. Seeing women like Tess Holliday working with more and more clients is very inspirational and motivating to see how far we have really come. Women are reclaiming themselves, their bodies, their potential and what they can be – it’s a powerful movement!
Natasha: What are things happening in the plus size fashion industry that you’re most excited about?
Jessica: I feel like brands are valuing bloggers – which is great. Brands are starting to shape up and recognize that bloggers have true value. That excites me.
Natasha: What do you wish there was more of in the plus size fashion industry/community?
Jessica: The number one thing for me is that I would like to see plus size women above the token size range of 18-24 in marketing campaigns. I am a size 26/28 and run a fashion company, so I know that companies have control over the models they use because I do, and I purposely use models who may not fit the norm as well as with bloggers to produce photos for our product shop because it is my duty and I get frustrated at retailers who don’t view that as a duty and use the smallest plus size model they can find. This is a problem because it excludes shoppers in the upper size ranges from being able to visualize the garment on them but it also sends a subliminal messages to those shoppers that they’re not good enough and need to keep working at it to be heard. Women shoppers need to support brands who are doing the right thing to highlight women of different body shapes and types. Unfortunately, it seems like everyone is waiting on one of the larger brands or mainstream publications to make a move, rather than supporting the smaller brands who are already doing this.
Natasha: What advice would you now give to your younger self when you were just starting your career?
Jessica: I would tell my 15 year old self, who was in track and field and was overweight and miserable – that life is not that scary and there are other people out there!
Natasha: What word do you use the most when talking?
Jessica: I saw “honestly” a lot, because I’m passionate…Honestly! 😛
Where would the plus size fashion industry be without Jessica Kane? She stands for innovation, determination, and forward thinking that we can all learn from.