Kali Hancock is passionate about changing the way people view plus-size women and making fashionable clothing. Her company Belle and Broome empowers plus-size women to look and feel their best by offering well-made Bohemian clothing and accessories for sizes 12-24. Her online curated boutique features everyday styles with a free-spirited flair which she is marketing on a start-up budget by reaching out to influencers and bloggers to help promote. Today the White Plains, New York-based entrepreneur is continuing to grow Belle and Broome year after year, while also maintaining a loyal following of customers leaving rave reviews.
Hancock’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I want to help women feel empowered, and to help them express their personality through clothing. After working in the fashion industry for a decade, I started Belle and Broome to move the industry to a more accepting place. Women over size 14 make up 47% of the US population, yet the majority of clothing sold is not above size 10. Fashion has long discriminated against plus-size women, and our society as a whole is anti-fat. I want to be part of the change, to show people that plus-size women are people too, with hopes, dreams, feelings, and a desire for nice things, and they are not defined by their size!
How do you define success?
My definition of success is helping as many people as possible while also loving what I’m doing.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
My biggest success to date is 100% year over year growth last year, and I’m on track to achieve the same this year. Another success metric that is so important to me is the satisfaction of my customers. I’m proud that we have 100% 5-star reviews so far on our website.
My goals for Belle and Broome are to continue to grow, as we’ve done each year so far, to continue to increase brand awareness through partnering with influencers and getting press, to scale up and hire an employee and marketing help, and to eventually have our own plus-size designs in addition to the curated selection we currently sell.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenge is marketing on a start-up budget. I’ve addressed it by focusing on more organic marketing, including partnering with plus-size bloggers and influencers to help spread the word about Belle and Broome.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
COVID-19 has affected me, along with everyone else in the world. It is something difficult that we’re all going through together. This year, I’ve had to scale back on paid advertising and also on the amount of inventory I’m carrying in order to weather the storm. The good thing about being a small start-up is that I can pivot quickly, and make decisions that are best for my business.
Who is your most important role model?
My most important role model is my mom, who worked hard while also raising a family and was the primary breadwinner in our household. Her determination and grit were passed along to me.