Plus-size outdoor adventures…

Exhilarating and empowering – those two words best describe my experience at the 1st plus-size women’s hike held by Escaping Your Comfort Zone.

The morning was overcast and drizzly, yet mild. I packed my small back-pack with some water, my phone and a rain coat. I tied my shoe-laces and was met at the door by my hubby Pete¬†who had made me a coffee “for the road” – now that’s a man that understands me and my relationship with coffee ūüôā

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I pulled into the car park at Lysterfield Park and immediately saw a group of women chatting to Richelle, founder and leader of Escaping your comfort Zone.¬† Richelle had her favourite Pink hat on –¬† as promised, so she was easy to identify ūüôā

IMG_2282The mood was excited and calm all at once, it was just so comfortable to arrive to some familiar, and some new faces.  I was thrilled to see Kate, who also attends yoga with me of a Wednesday, she always has the most amazing smile and hug ready every time I see her.

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I LOVE how this hike was planned, not only were we with like-bodied and like-minded women, but we ranged in experience and ability.  Richelle, with years of her own outdoor experience under her belt, had cleverly planned the trail the week before, and had a team of 4, including herself, who were tasked with being spread throughout the pack to ensure no one was struggling and we were all supported.  This worked so well because all 4 of the team were super friendly and engaging women who ensured you felt at ease immediately. Perfect.

With a group of 12 curvy women¬†including the¬†team, we set out at 9am on the pre-determined trail.¬† One gorgeous lady bought her son in the pram – he was such a cutie, and he enjoyed the ride too.¬† Richelle had planned alternate routes for the pram in two areas where the track changed into single track and wasn’t accessible with the pram.

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We headed around the lake, across the “beach”, up the small set of stairs onto the bridge, across the bridge and around a corner – then we headed UP a hill – by the time I got to the top I was feeling puffed and my legs were telling me that was a long hill. At the top we stopped for 5 mins to enjoy the scenery and catch our breath. From that moment on I got the most amazing burst of energy and adrenaline and I felt like I could walk for ever. We continued along a wide path, then split off down to the lakes edge to stand on the jetty… the views were spectacular.12924525_992708964153323_1530378829849557446_n

From there we enjoyed a trail that was single file with the added excitement of lots of fallen large tree branches which just added to the fun. There were kangaroos everywhere and we had a lot of fun taking “kangaroo selfies” along the way.

Richelle put together this video that shows our adventure – I just love it!

The two hours went by so fast. As we rounded the corner to the car park I was disappointed. I didn’t want this time to end.

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. I want to be active. I don’t like exercising on my own. I don’t like walking alone to exercise.¬† I know, I know – it’s “me time” etc. and that’s true, but it’s just something I’ve never enjoyed. When I walk with someone, or a group, I feel like I can walk forever.¬† I feel motivated and happy. When I walk alone, I feel like it’s a chore. Does that make sense?

We walked just over 5 1/2kms in 2 hours, the pace was comfortable, the scenery was beautiful and the company was friendly, fun and supportive.

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Escaping Your Comfort Zone is a brilliant idea, I’m so excited to be part of this exciting group.¬† I’m really looking forward to regular outings and exploring our countryside.

I’m thrilled to be¬†presenting at the¬†upcoming Escaping Your Comfort Zone – Plus-size Adventure Retreat where I’ll be finally able to try stand-up paddle-boarding! Click here for more information and to book, there’s only a couple of places left.

Richelle has planned more exciting hikes and adventures, make sure you sign-up to the website here and follow the Facebook page.

If you’re reading this and wondering if it’s for you – feel free to give me a call or drop me a line, I’d be happy to encourage you and chat to you about it.

If you’re not in Melbourne, Victoria and you’re interested in events in your area, please contact Richelle as she’s looking to expand this across the country and beyond.

Join me on the trails?

Love your shape!

Janine x

The Curvy Couture Roadshow 2015

Did you hear it? The thunderous applause emanating from the ACMI lightwell at Federation Square on Saturday night? Or perhaps you heard the excited chatter of guests as they queued up at the steps of the Collingwood Town Hall to gain entry to the designer market on Sunday morning.¬† I’m guessing if none of the above your newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram has been humming with all the goss, images and video feeds of the weekend.

The weekend began for me at the Bloggers Brunch. 11 lovely ladies met at a café in the CBD, excited and ready to go. Jess & Erin from CCR hosted our brunch and we were given an outline of the events over the weekend, invited to come backstage to meet the designers and models as they prepped and rehearsed that afternoon, and of course to stand in the media pit, front & centre at the show. The bloggers brunch gave me an opportunity to finally meet some of my fellow writers, we were a merry bunch and all bring something different to the Industry. Thanks for the opportunity to meet and chat about the event prior to the show, it was fantastic, and so was the smashed avocado & feta toast, coffee and fresh juice РLOVE

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There was much debate on social media about what everyone was going to wear. I chose my comfy Autograph Jeans and kimono with a blast of Red with my favourite boots.

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Organisers Erin & Jess chatting to the bloggers over brunch about the event.

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Our Media passes and the yummy juice!

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(Left-right) Erin, Jess, Me, Melissa, Lily, Natalie, Omega, Ashley, Olivia, Elyse, Sam, Hayley

The Curvy Couture Roadshow blew us all out of the water this¬†past weekend. You may remember me writing about the 1st Roadshow that was held in Perth in 2013, it was my wedding weekend, and although I was in Perth I couldn’t make it ūüôĀ Last year I was overseas and missed it again, so this year I was determined to be front and centre, and boy am I glad I didn’t miss it. By all accounts this year was bigger and better than ever.

You’ve heard me banging on for over 6 years now about “realistic & identifiable” representation of plus-size garments and how ONLY doing this will truly sell to the target market. The CCR proved this point – ten fold!

From the minute you entered via the red carpet out the front, the excitement was undeniable.

Sarah & I

Sarah & I

I was lucky enough to be gifted a ticket and invited Sarah from Body Positive Australia as my guest for the evening, we loved the chance to grab a photo together before we entered the venue. I was proud to wear my beautiful kaftan by Kaftans by Annalisa, a Melbourne designer, I love it, I felt comfortable all night, but also felt fabulous! (Wish I could say the same about my shoes, my feet were killing me! but hey they looked nice right?!)

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Miss Scarlet Did It

The catwalk show began with a BANG – BOOM Suzie the gorgeous red-head stormed out of the curtains to begin the show in Miss Scarlet Did It lingerie, followed closely behind by a bevy of beauties of all shapes and sizes – not one body shape was missed – everyone in the room could identify with at least one of the models. To start the show with lingerie was a stroke of brilliance, it proved to the crowd that CCR is serious about making their mark, and more importantly making the point that plus-size fashion is relevant, it’s now, it’s shaking and that curvy women love their bodies and want to wear sexy clothes. It wasn’t only the catwalk that was full of body positive women, the room was full of incredibly beautiful women, inside & out.

The next 2 1/2 hours were a mesmerizing plethora of designs, I loved that each brand represented had something unique to offer, they all had their own unique spin on representing their garments, and the passion of the designers, the quality of the designs and fabrics made you want to run so far away from what I call “The Usual Suspects” (you know, the brands that are available in the shopping centres)¬†that it wasn’t funny. In fact, the CCR¬†was a chance to be convinced (If you weren’t already that is) that spending your money at any store BUT these designers was just, well, it’s just crazy!

Being a preacher of “love your shape!” and a firm believer of identifying your own personal style and dressing for YOU, it only makes sense to buy from these brands, not only to support local Australian businesses, but to take advantage of some seriously amazing garment options. I have a “must buy list” that is a mile long (and will take me years to afford), but the fact that I have a list now, is just sensational. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping and wanted to buy EVERYTHING!

My personal favourite was Hope & Harvest, this¬†label¬†is on fire! The H&H¬†anorak and animal print bomber jacket just begged me to buy them, but seriously EVERYTHING that came out on those amazing models, and to the beat of the¬†jungle theme just wooed me in¬†ūüôā The styling and choreography was brilliant, H&H are already a front runner in realistically & identifiably representing their garments in all their marketing, and this flowed on through their segment with streets models wearing all their designs. BRAVO!

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Meri by Design/Eder+Berk were amazing, stylish, stylish, stylish. The cape jacket will be mine! This seasons’ range is a serious option for those of you who¬†are looking for great options for¬†corporate attire too, I only wish they were around when I was in the corporate field years ago. Sigh.

Meri By Design

Meri By Design

I hadn’t seen Lisa Kerr’s range before the night, my first reaction was¬†LOVE for their marketing,¬†the models came out with signs “I am Inspirational (which is a size 18-20) and another “I am Confident” which translates to a Size 14/16 – their Measurement guide is wonderful and brilliant marketing to me, their target market. The designs were chic and fun with great accessories. This is a label I want to know more about.

Lisa Kerr

Lisa Kerr

huudaverti appealed to my gypsy side, my need to look and feel unique & extraordinary. Whilst one of the designs I felt belonged in my kitchen (I just can’t get my mind around a dress that looks like an apron), all the other designs blew me away! The fabrics are incredible, so unique, just like the designs, and although the styling was more “unique” than I would style them, the beauty was I could see lots of key pieces I could incorporate into my own wardrobe that would not only¬†suit my style, but finally allow me to express it more, as there truly isn’t another label that is coming at fashion from this angle in the plus-size market. The¬†Designers (3 sisters)¬†behind this brand are so fantastic, and I loved how they acknowledged their mum in the front row beaming proudly at them at the end of their segment.

huudaverti

huudaverti

I love the quirkiness of Misty Belvidere, her show made a big impression with bold colours and fun, exciting patterns. This is a brand to watch!

Misty Belvidere

Misty Belvidere

Bombshell Vintage opened with the incredible green emerald dress, I can still see the luxury of the colour and fabric in my mind, and teamed with the gorgeous red tresses of model Suzie with her smooth moves on the catwalk, I was in love! Vintage isn’t my thing, but if it’s yours, you NEED to visit Bombshell Vintage.

Bombshell Vintage

Bombshell Vintage

Harlow, it struck me¬†is a true Melbourne brand as us Melbournites are known for our love of wearing black. Harlow didn’t disappoint with some great styles in black, monochrome and deep reds with some pretty cool accessories.

Harlow

Harlow

Oh my goodness I could just go on forever about each brand that showed on Saturday night, but I just can’t fit it all in!, so here’s of list of the other incredible brands that showed, please show them some love by clicking on the link and subscribing to their mailing lists to stay up to date.

Seraphim, Pho Sizzle, Nyata, Camilla Jayne, Big Blossom PJs, Icelandic Blue, The Professors Daughter

Sonsee Woman made a huge impression too, suddenly out strutted models in their underwear,¬†tights and crop Sonsee T-shirts¬†– full of confidence¬†and fierceness! It was an incredibly empowering segment of the event. I personally own a couple of pairs¬†of Sonsee, and wrote a post about them last winter,¬†if you haven’t tried them yet – get on it!¬†They are the ONLY tights I will ever wear again!

Sonsee Woman

Sonsee Woman

Beyond The Sea, I wish I had seen this range before my recent Bali trip – I would have found my new swimsuit straight away! LOVE that Beyond The Sea not only understands design, but offers fantastic quality fabric in DESIGNS! Yep, not just plain old black. Loved the fun presentation of this brand on the catwalk.

Beyond The Sea

Beyond The Sea

The reaction from the crowd during the show was fantastic, there was clapping, cheering, gasps, squeals, you name it, it kept coming as thick and fast as the realistic models pounding the catwalk. The buzz during the intermission was so great, and the show finished with a bang, with one look from every brand represented on the catwalk which was greeted with thunderous applause. And then it was over. Sigh.

I was lucky enough to head upstairs to the after party where I got to talk some more with the other bloggers, meet some of the models and speak to the designers. It was hard to sleep that night, the buzz of excitement was infectious and kept my mind and body going for hours and hours. Sunday was the Curvy Couture Designer Market at the Collingwood Town Hall where as a Media VIP I got to meet and greet all the designers with a glass of champagne in hand an hour before the general public arrived. I took full advantage of that hour to scoot around and see as many people as possible, I made it half way before the doors opened and the stalls & designers were inundated with people eager to do the same!

The VIP guest for the Runway and Market this year was Tess Holliday, an inspirational woman who has made history this year by being the first plus size model to be signed to Milk Management Agency. Tess was front and centre with her man at the Runway, she was clearly enthralled by the brands on show and hugely supportive. She was so humble and generous, happy to pose with guests for photos and speaking with them. I finally got the chance to say hi to Tess myself at the Market, and I bought one of her fantastic t-shirts with #effyourbeautystandards on it! I wore it for 3 days straight, I just LOVE it and what it stands for. My 11 year old son said to me on Tuesday morning when I pulled it on over my jeans to do the school run “Mum, you really love that t-shirt don’t you!?” LOL

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I think my only criticism (for want of a better word) in relation to this event was that there was no MC. I wanted to hear a welcome, an introduction, someone to work with the excitement and anticipation that was building in the room as we waited for the event to start Рto bring it for us and at the end, after the fantastic finale walk by all the models and brands, I wanted someone to thank us for being there, and to tell us to mark our calendars for next years event. That was missing for me.

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate the organisers of this years event, it was fantastic! Congratulations to Jess, Erin, Kate, Teresa & Karyn. I know the huge hours and effort that it takes to pull something like this together, and you should be congratulated. Thank you for raising the visibility of our Australian Designers, for giving them an important platform to showcase to their target market and to the public in general. I just know that this event will go from strength to strength as it is an important¬†vehicle for¬†fashion for curvy women of Australia.

Congratulations¬†to the designers¬†who put in a huge effort to have incredible¬†& show- stopping¬†designs¬†to showcase, for all the long hours you put in to be there all weekend and for being so welcoming and sharing your brand with us. You did us so proud! I hope that you’ve felt the love and pride from all of us, your customers.

BRAVO to the models, the Industry Models from Bella Model Management, and to the street models who worked hard to practise, practise, practise to ensure a smooth performance. It wasn’t just smooth – it was AWESOME!

BUY AUSTRALIAN, SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN, we have so much to offer.

LOVE YOUR SHAPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Janine x