beauty

Finally: A little black dress that looks good on women bigger than size 10.

The little black dress. A quientessential part of every woman’s wardrobe.

Well, quintessential if you change the very meaning of that word to: “pretty bloody tricky to find one that suits you”.

Amanda Watson knows this all too well. That’s exactly why she started making her own.

Seven years ago Amanda found herself divorced, and was thrust into being the sole parent of her now 13-year-old daughter. With no fashion experience and limited knowledge on how to run her own business Amanda launched her fashion career – making LBD’s for every body shape.

“None of us are the same size, height or proportions yet few of us are truly represented in what we see in the mainstream media or on the majority of clothing racks” said Amanda. “That’s how I came up with The LBD.”

Seven years later and ‘The LBD ~  Little Black Dress’ has grown into a successful online business that aims to empower women of all shapes and sizes.

We caught up with Amanda to find out how she started her online business …

Could you tell us about your life 10 years ago?

I was happily married with a 3-year-old toddler. Recently returned to working part-time in a corporate role. Juggling like most Mums’ the work – life balance. That all changed in early 2007 when my marriage ended and I became a single parent. I now had a whole lot of responsibility, a far, far more limited income and had to think about plan B, C and D.

Amanda – and two of her models

Did you ever think you’d be doing what you are doing now?

No. Never in a million years. Especially after my divorce. I doubt I would have taken this risk or even had the inclination to do this within the stability of the marriage. But I know I would not have had the space or opportunity to grow in to the person I am becoming now if I were still there. Sometimes the universe has a way of shaking us out of our comfort zone and (strongly) encouraging us to open doors we would not have willingly pursued. I come from a creative and marketing background but being an entrepreneur or creating a fashion label was the furtherest thing from my mind.

When did you decide to start your own business?

After the marriage ended I was completely tapped out – emotionally and physically. I decided to take an inexpensive break. The travel agent presented numerous options to me including Bali. I had read Eat, Pray, Love and so, so resonated with the book and Elizabeth Gilbert, but absolutely did not want to fall in to the stereotypical post-separation EPL pilgrimage. Despite my resistance, destiny stepped in and I ended up in Bali (for the first time ever) and (you guessed it)…..  in Ubud.

While I was there the seed was unexpectedly sown for a business idea after I wore the touristy silk shift caftan dresses that skimmed over all the body bits I despised especially in the emotional self-flagellation aftermath of a separation.

I felt like a Goddess.

For those brief moments I actually liked who I was and what I saw in the mirror. A completely crazy idea came to me – I wanted to explore how to create a clothing range that somehow encompassed THAT FEELING despite what was deceptively hiding underneath. To bring out the inner Goddess for all women. I started the Goddess 2 Go concept – to embody busy women on the go, with real bodies.

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Did you have any fashion experience prior to this?

None. Does shopping count? I think BEING my target market was a huge advantage and my family, friends and colleagues were also an inspiration for the label.

Few labels attempt to design for such a varied range of body shapes. It was a huge leap of faith (and slightly crazy idea) to start a business, particularly in fashion with no real experience, only a life BC (Before Child) working in corporate.

I took a calculated bet that there were plenty more women like me, equally frustrated with what is fashionable versus what fits and flatters the bodies we have right now.

What woman doesn’t own and/or love a great LBD?

Some of Amanda’s LBD’s.

How do you go about designing them? Because they essentially look good on every body shape – how do you create such a diverse dress?

In many ways designing the LBD capsule collection has been a simple building-block style approach. I started with a variety of necklines, then sleeve lengths/styles, then skirt options. More choices, for a more inclusive range of women. And importantly we collaborated with a top stylist Trish Murray, to make specific recommendations for each and every body shape.

The whole collection has been intentionally designed to be classic, simple, elegant and most importantly timeless dresses. It isn’t about high fashion. I want these dresses to have longevity and be the foundation pieces in a woman’s closet. Think of that LBD that Audrey Hepburn wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Still gorgeous. Our Kathryn maxi LBD is an adaptation of that silhouette. Works equally as well totally glammed up with stilettos and bling as it does with gorgeous sandals, French market basket and a floppy hat. The styling options are endless. Our LBD’s are a total winner on a cost-per-wear basis.

Quality in fabric and finish are absolutely paramount. Our dresses are manufactured using a premium quality, silky soft, opaque black jersey in a trans seasonal weight – to comfortably wear year round – light enough for travel but just heavy enough to drape beautifully.

Consistency in sizing across the entire range is critical so customers can confidently purchase the same size, in any design (best suited for their body shape). For us it’s also all about the detail. Ideas such as working to 4 standard hem lengths. Whilst for some women these lengths may seem demure for others it is perfect. Especially for women who want the coverage that is lacking in a lot of fashion or those are taller and are challenged to find dresses that aren’t thigh high.

To find out more about The LBD ~  Little Black Dress visit their website here. Take a look at their dresses here.

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