Real talk. I hate shopping for pants. I hate the bending, the wriggling, the experimentation and frustrating returns to the rack. I hate the contorting that goes on to find a pair of jeans that fits, is strong enough to withstand some of this drizzly fall weather, but also comes off without ten minutes of side stepping and at least one near-death experience. I hate the experience. I hate the price tag. I hate the whole darn process.
But fall is here. And so, take a deep breath folks. It’s time to wear pants again.
As someone who is a little bit taller, a little bit wider and somehow a little bit rounder than last year, winter shopping has always been a dreaded event. My friends forward emails, text discount codes, call me when a place is having a sale — and so I had been hearing a rumour:
“Consign Your Curves — it’s great you should check it out.”
“I got these pants there. I love them!”
“Seriously, just go. You’ll love it.”
And so, I went.
When I walked in the door of Consign your Curves on Elizabeth Street in Guelph, not only was the space bright and beautiful, but there was a woman behind the counter who obviously enjoyed her job. She looked at me and said, “you’ve never been here before, have you?”
Busted — I shook my head. “You can always tell when it’s someone’s first time,” she laughed.
Her name is Carlie Roberts, owner of Consign Your Curves. The store is a by-product of Robert’s determined effort to consign her clothes – I’m not kidding.
“I was a fashion blogger and I had a lot of clothes I was turning over that I couldn’t sell in consignment stores because they were over a size 12” she told me.
“So along with a few other women, I organized a [one-time] sale.”
In 2013, the group debuted with just 13 racks and 150 shoppers. Anyone could come in and sell their clothes, without being told they were too large or feeling judged as they looked for their sizes. The sale is in it’s seventh year now, with over 60 racks of clothing and 300 shoppers excited for new finds.
“Women — specifically curvy women, are starving for more clothing options,” Roberts said. She now self identifies as “a curvy movement maker.”
In the fall of 2018, Roberts took her idea to the next level: a store front celebration of curvy style carrying sizes 12-32. Just this past fall, she also opened her online store.
“I just wanted to give my community one more option,” Roberts said.
Now the store acts as an intersection, as local, female identified creatives and entrepreneurs come together with consignors from Ottawa to Windsor to offer a one-of-a-kind, inclusive and accessible shopping experience.
And while the CYC Instagram story tells tales about this brand new opportunity for shoppers tired of the same five stores, Roberts was recently invited to talk about the impact it had on her life.
On Oct. 16, Roberts presented at the Makers Collective’s Shop Talk Series at Shopify, talking about her experience managing personal wellness being in an entrepreneurial state. She explored the radical reality that this mission to make women feel validated in their bodies had taken over her life in a whole new direction.
“This wasn’t a business I was planning to start,” she admitted. “I knew there was a need, so I did it.”
And maybe the origin story is as simple as that — a woman on a mission to empty out her closet. But Roberts has big plans.
“Long term, I would love for there be a CYC in every province,” she said. And even bigger than that, thanks to the newly launched CYC online store, an inclusive attitude world wide.
My favorite part about the store,” she said, “is that it gives the people who shop here a sense of belonging. Everyone walks away feeling this is a safe, comfortable zone in which they’re able to shop.”
And so I think she’s right, she is a “curvy movement maker” on a mission to do good in a world of dreaded pant shopping experiences. And you can join her, and other local CYC vendors, on Nov. 16 from 12 – 4 p.m., to celebrate one year of a hashtag turned headquarters — and maybe find some fabulous clothes while you’re at it.
Racheal Walser is a local literary short fiction author and poet working in feminist non-profit. She lives on a ranch for retired house hippos along with her great white carpet, er, dog, Anthem and her not so squish, Squish cat who meows maliciously at feeding time. Her work has appeared in publications by Mensa, Fast Forward Press, After the Pause, Canadian Stories and many more.