Women classed as being plus-sized should celebrate who they are and not feel under pressure to conform, says the founder of a bridal store specialising in plus-size dresses.
Jane Burbeary set up Celebrating Curves after struggling to find the right wedding dress for herself when she was getting married a few years ago.
She told The Yorkshire Post: “Being a plus-sized woman trying to find a wedding dress is quite difficult.
“Lots of traditional shops will just stock samples in sizes eight and 10 so when I was looking at a size 22 it was quite difficult and the choice was really minimal.”
In the end she settled for a dress that she wouldn’t have had has she been a size eight. This led her to launching Celebrating Curves in April 2016.
The business has its own collection of dresses that are specifically designed for plus-sized women.
Brides-to-be come to the store in Sheffield on an appointment only basis. Ms Burbeary says this works well as many women feel nervous when buying a wedding dress.
Many plus-size brides who come to Celebrating Curves have had a bad experience shopping elsewhere, Ms Burbeary added.
She said: “You’re not fighting for someone’s attention, you’re not fighting for the mirror, you’re not standing next to someone in the mirror that’s four or five sizes smaller than you. It’s all a really personal service.”
The average UK woman now is a size 16 with some in the fashion industry still classing anything over a size eight as plus-sized.
Ms Burbeary said: “I’m not a fan of the plus-size label. Women are women. It’s about making it part of the norm.”
Celebrating Curves stocks dresses from a size 14 up to a size 30. However, Ms Burbeary says that she has even had size six women coming to her because of body confidence issues.
She doesn’t want brides to feel under pressure to conform to idealised images they see in the media and wants them to feel good about themselves “whatever size or shape they are”.
Ms Burbeary said: “My message to them is celebrate who you are. Your partner is marrying you because they love you for you.
“They don’t want to see somebody else walking down the aisle towards them. They want you to look like you.
“Girls will come to me and they’ll be very nervous but by the time they walk out of the shop they’ve found an inner confidence because they’ve found a dress they feel amazing in.”
Ms Burbeary is looking to grow the business but adds that she will take it at a “sensible” pace.
She said: “Business is great. We’re just starting our second year of trading. What I will say about bridal is that there doesn’t seem to be a pattern. There doesn’t seem to be a season as such anymore.
“At the end of the second year we’ll be starting to look at where we can expand into other things. Maybe one area is the mother of the bride. I get a lot of mums that come that have the same problem trying to look for their own outfit.”
Start Up loan helped to get the business venture off the ground
Jane Burbeary secured a £25,000 loan from government-backed Start Up Loans Company to get her business idea off the ground.
The organisation, which merged with the British Business Bank earlier this year, provides low-interest finance and support to new businesses and those trading for less than two years.
Ms Burbeary, who has always had an interest in fashion, set up Celebrating Curves after facing redundancy from her job in the training industry.
She said: “I was very keen to get out of the training industry and move into something that I’m really passionate about and enjoy every single day, and I do with this job.”
Prior to working in the training industry, Ms Burbeary managed a travel agent’s store. At the moment she is running Celebrating Curves on her own.