Re/Dress’ Brick & Mortar Location to Close at the End of the Year

I’ve been avoiding writing this piece of communication for hours now. I got up early knowing I had to write it, I’ve done several other work-related tasks, read an issue of inTouch magazine about Judge Judy being destroyed by a secret affair, watched an episode of ‘This is Us,’ and even considered doing my dishes, but I can’t put it off any longer: Re/Dress will be closing its retail location permanently on Sunday, December 31st.

One of my long time friends, first muses, and Re/Dress supermodel Genna Petrolla emphatically told me “YOU DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF, DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!” when I told her I’d be closing, and as much as I love the idea of dipping out with no goodbye (people who know me IRL know that I do this at parties or shows constantly), I just can’t help but process this out loud. Y’all helped me buy Re/Dress in February of 2013 with a really awesome IndieGoGo campaign, and I’d like to think I was a good steward of your money, so you should know the full story.

It has been a really amazing 4+ years, and all of you have been integral to making this company what it is. I worked at Re/Dress back when it was transitioning from closing the NYC store to online only, which means I’ve been with the company for almost 7 years now. I cherish the aspects of body positivity, fashion, and community that working for and owning Re/Dress has brought into my life, but I’m ready for new challenges and the financial freedom that comes with no longer sustaining a brick and mortar operation.

Re/Dress has been through a lot in the nearly 5 years of my ownership/4 years of being a brick and mortar in Ohio. We’ve moved three times — first out of the basement of my rental house, then once because we expanded and once because we were in an abusive relationship with a 100 year old building that damaged a lot of our inventory. We opened a brand new website, and in the last 2 years have focused specifically on exclusively hiring models size 18 or larger as well as models of color and of varied gender expressions. We have 3 on-staff models that are a size 26 and don’t just use them for cameos or once-in-a-while photos, as we try to set the tone for the plus size modeling world to be more inclusive and intersectional. We’ve shipped out 12,600+ packages, done 42 photo shoots, sold at 31 flea markets or vintage shows, appeared at 3 west coast fashion shows, held 5 pop-ups spanning both coasts, redesigned the patterns for our most popular product, Teggings, and made 9 new permutations of them, worked with 16 indie brands to bring you unique collaborations, created and manufactured 3 super solid seasonal legwear basics that folks covet year after year, and produced three of our own original lines. We’ve held 14 events, 2 clothing swaps, 3 clothing drives, helped 6 plus size teens get the clothing and funds they need to go to prom, and housed 4 interns who have all gone on to do really amazing work. We’ve also started free and low cost programming to build community, pay plus size professionals for their talent and give them a place for their ideas to live, as well as give local plus size folks a space to learn and grow, including: Body Positive Circle, BoPo Yoga, Jammin’ Jellies Dance Class, WERQ plus size modeling courses, BoPo Dance Party, and more.

The friendships and relationships I’ve made through the store have been immeasurably important, and though there have been times of struggle, I look back on the last 5 years mostly with joy. I completed my Master’s degree, lost my father, and met and married my husband all while running this place. I’d really like to thank our shop workers and interns who kept this place together when I couldn’t be here. Erin, Alena, Amelia, Jenny B, Jennifer W, Dominique, Brooke, Shayla, Tess, Beki, Jessica, Abby, Ang, and Brittney, you have all helped so many people feel empowered through fashion in a hands-on, meaningful way. Kasey, you’ve been awesome at customer service when I couldn’t muster the strength to be kind. Thank you for nearly 3 years of virtual shop-girling! The strengths and talents in this group of people are incredible and abundant. There have been occasions when my leadership has been flawed or messy, and I thank all of you for getting through the hard times with me as gracefully as possible.

Thank you so much to our customers. You’ve chosen us over Target, Lane Bryant, Catherines, Avenue, or Torrid, you’ve come here to celebrate, you’ve come here for comfort, and you’ve come here to hang out. I hope you know that we couldn’t do it without you, and we’ve loved being with you on your journeys.

When I talk about Re/Dress, I say “we” because I work with a small but mighty staff that consists of of a part time shop worker as well as a team of part time social media and content managers. We also have a freelance staff of rotating models, stylists, photographers, makeup artists, and helpers who keep this thing running. I’d also be remiss to not mention my husband Sam, who has assisted me at so many flea markets, sales, buys, late-night-package-packings, and is basically our store handyperson. But investment-wise, financially, schedule-wise, and otherwise, it’s been me leading the team and working in the store on a more-than-full-time-schedule this whole time. As a person with a chronic illness, it’s been increasingly difficult to put in 40 hours a week at Re/Dress as well as an additional 15+ hours at my part time hustles so I can afford my health insurance, medical bills, and student loans. I don’t get sick time or vacation time for this job, and after two major health issues erupting this year, I know that I need to listen to my body and slow down a little.

I’ll be hanging on to the storefront space through at least March and from there I’ll be running the online store, which will remain intact, but will focus more on our best sellers — Teggings, our fabulous recycled jersey tunics, classic dresses (ALL THE SACK DRESSES FOREVER,) microfiber leggings, and seasonal faves like our Comfy Cotton Bike Shorts and Fleece Lined Leggings. The future of Re/Dress Online is totally up in the air and I will likely be putting it up for sale, but I’m the type of person who thrives on change, so I feel really optimistic that the brand will still be going somewhere positive.

As far as public final sales go, the first one will be 40% off everything on Saturday, December 23rd, and then there will be a final liquidation weekend where everything will be 50% off on the 30th, and then on the 31st, it will be 75% off, cash & carry, and we will sell fixtures and furniture. BoPo Circle and BoPo Yoga will run thru mid-January. Lastly, if you have an unused gift card or store credit that you don’t spend in the store, it will automatically transfer to our online system on January 1st, and you’ll get an email or a text letting you know your balance.

Lots of people have asked me how they can help or what they can do. The nicest thing you can do for us now is buy things from our store or from the website at our already modest prices so we can make enough money to finish out the year and pay off our debt. If you’re local, come shop with us on Small Business Saturday and support us and or just give me a hug. If you have a business that needs warehousing & online distribution, product photography, or otherwise, keep me posted — we do that professionally for a few brands and would love to add you to our client roster! If you or someone you know is interested in buying Re/Dress, email me at rachelkacenjar@gmail.com. I’m working with an amazing MBA from Yale (heck yes plus sized professionals!) to do a complete valuation of the company’s assets, (spoilers: the company as a whole makes a tidy profit!) and would love to sell it to someone in the community the way it was sold to me.

Thanks for your love and support, now and through the years. I feel very grateful for everything I’ve learned, lost, gained, and earned through Re/Dress.

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