As we celebrate International Women’s Day we are so excited to feature Louise O’Reilly of Style Me Curvy.

Louise is an award winning blogger and curvy model represented globally. What does it take to create a brand this strong? Check out what Louise had to say…

Liqiao Zhu, IG @litschau

Describe yourself in 4 words?

Shopaholic, bubbly (laugh at my own jokes), workaholic, coffee obsessed, (okay more than four words!)

Liqiao Zhu, IG @litschau

Influencers are very important in the fashion and beauty industry. What responsibility do you feel about being seen as a person with influence?

I’ve been working in fashion now for over 8 years, both as a plus size model and a fashion blogger. I’ve always seen a kind of “social” responsibility that’s vital to represent for those who are actively working in a digital space. I have a broad age range that follow me, so I’m quite mindful of that when I create content. Body image topics are a big part of that, particularly on social channels like Snapchat or Instastories where a topic might be instant and in the news on a particular day. At an overall level I think there are elements of where, if you are lucky to have a voice in this industry to use it where you can to raise awareness on important issues that might be happening in the world. More importantly I think it’s great for people of influence, in any capacity, to work with charities that might be personal to them. I’m incredibly lucky to do what I do so I never take anything for granted.

How would you describe your brand to us?

My brand is about being inclusive. It’s about women and individuals learning to accept who they are no matter what their shape or size. I like to talk about fashion and beauty for everyone, giving insider information straight from the runway or behind the scenes on a shoot. I want my readers to feel happy and content when they’re on my website and to feel that my information was helpful.

For me when I was growing up, shopping was painful and emotional – I never, ever had anything to wear. I would have been around a U.S. size 18, which in Europe there were little or no options. Style Me Curvy was set up to make sure no one had to feel the same way I did ever again.

Many people think that bloggers/influencers simply post pretty/sexy images. What do you think is the biggest misconception about this line of work?

It’s certainly a common misconception and I too, before getting into this industry, didn’t realise the time and energy that goes into even the most basic shoot. I always try to be open with people about this. Showing the ‘behind the scenes’ of what a shoot entails or my messy desk behind the “pretty photos.”

Working on set as a model is another common misconception. People think we just take a photo and leave, when in fact it can be 16 hour days or on-location in -5 degree weather wearing Spring/Summer outfits and trying to “look warm”! It’s far from glamorous and even though I love what I do I try to highlight things, particularly for those who want to get in to this line of work so they know what’s really involved.

My day could start at 5 am – it could be full of emails to admin and outlining content for the month, castings and model work. Every week I have over 300 reader request e-mails that need to be replied to also. So behind the nice images is a lot more than meets the eye… but unless you’re in the industry it is hard for others outside of this to see it.

What projects have you worked on that you are most proud of?

I’ve worked with Cosmopolitan magazine across both fashion and a number of beauty campaigns, which I loved working on primarily because the beauty world is still slow at working with bigger sized girls and beauty/makeup is a huge passion of mine.

The same applied last year when I worked with St. Tropez Tan for a number of months. They embraced everything about my brand ethos and me for who I am, which was wonderful.

On the more fashion side of things I’ve collaborated with both Nike and Adidas on their plus size sports range, which was another big thing for me.

And behind the scenes I work with brands on projects who are trying to become more size-friendly but need a push in the right direction – these kind of projects I adore because even though it’s a more hands on approach to fashion, it has a great impact for every day consumers when done right.

The plus size industry and mainstream media has embraced size diversity. What do you feel still needs to happen in order for bodies of all shapes and sizes to be seen as “main stream”?

There is so much more that needs to be done. While the industry has seen some incredible changes in the past 3 years in particular, there is still a long way to go.

There needs to be more organic inclusion across all sectors – fashion, beauty, music videos, acting, essentially all media outlets.

In terms of fashion there are a few key things that need to be considered. We need more brands to openly give floor space in stores to bigger sizes and not just limiting them to online only. We need to see designers and brands doing this so that customers feel included and embraced by fashion for all ages. In a social media capacity there is still this disparity whereby brands are promoting themselves as “size inclusive,” however their Instagram or social media feeds seem to claim otherwise with little or no size diversity shown. In our fast paced digital age this is something that is a key responsibility by a brand to communicate to their marketing team and we need this sense of inclusion.

The same formula needs to be applied to fashion weeks and runway shows. There are numerous designers I can think of that have a wonderful size range in their collections but very few use a broad selection in sizes, and thus as consumers we presume the brand is not size inclusive. Inclusivity is like a domino effect– it needs a push, it needs consistency to create power and strength to knock down barriers, and when it does the results impact everything around it.

What is your advice to anyone looking to bring his or her brand into the spotlight?

Be genuine; don’t follow what other people are doing. You will never in your life work harder or put more hours into something but you have to stay true to your brand, work hard on interesting content that is relatable and true to the very fabric of why you started – never let that fall to the back of your mind. Get ready to turn down collaborations and partnerships and only take on those you truly identify with – that you personally would 100% support and love or find what they are doing to be of great interest to you or your followers.

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