Meet the Boomettes - Joanna
It's time to meet another Boomette, even though it's not Tuesday, and today, that Boomette is.... me! Obviously it would be pretty boring if I just talked to myself, so I asked the Boomettes that I've previously profiled to ask me a question each, and darn if they didn't give me some toughies! So you know I'm gonna ramble on a bit...
Kris says: What do you like most about House of Boom?
Obviously I have to say he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. My Boomettes are the most obvious visual cue to the amazing people involved in Boom, and the fun - and tears! - we share at photoshoots and launches and just all the bloody lovely support I get from them means everything. But there's more to Boom behind the scenes of course, like my amazing sister & brother in law who do the photography, and my amazing production manager Iona at Umsiko New Zealand who always makes me smile, and also my various other suppliers. But also the customers too! It makes me SO HAPPY to meet Boomies who come in to the pop up shops, or who email me and are excited to be able to buy clothes in their size. There's repeat customers who love their dresses so much they buy them in other colours too and honestly that just makes my heart explode, metaphorically of course. I'm so pleased that people have got on board with Boom's kaupapa - even if they aren't fat, and I've met some really really amazing people. And that's what I'm doing this for. Making wonderful people happy is the best fucking feeling ever.
Hiria asks: What would you say to someone wanting to start up?
Oh Lorde. First of all, congratulations on your amazing bravery for seeing a problem and trying to fix it. Second, are you SURE you want to do this? Really? REALLY? Thirdly: take whatever you reckon it will cost, and double it. Then add some more. Make sure you find yourself some amazing people who can fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Have a very very clear vision of what you want to achieve, so that whenever you're faced with a decision, you can ask yourself "does this meet my vision? to help come up with an answer. Also - how can Boom & I help you with what you're trying to do? Cos I wanna!
Alex asks: How do you feel about the relationship between online shopping, fatness, and accessibility?
I don't think it's a secret that when I first started Boom I intended to open a physical shop, because so often fat people don't get to try on their clothes before they buy them. Retail shops that DO deign to carry plus sizes (and often only up to a 24 if that) tend to hide away the plus sizes as if we should be ashamed, and I say fuck that to all that noise. So I wanted a gorgeous boutique where fat people could come in, have gorgeous changing rooms and take their time, and try everything on. But of course, the accountant said no no no, and he was right, it would not be at all sustainable. So that's why I compromise with the popup shops. People keep suggesting to me that I go sell at markets, but I don't want people to feel crammed into flimsy collapsible changing rooms. I want you to take your time with Boom. Selling from my own home, with changing rooms set up in my bedroom and upstairs room is my best way to achieve that. I know it's not perfect accessibility with a step up into the house. I do still dream of one day - ONE DAY - having a much more accessible shop that's open all times.
Bodies come in all sizes and shapes, and I try to have a diverse range of Boomettes (within the bounds of I'm not actually paying very much so I am relying on friendships at this stage) so that when people are shopping online they can find a Boomette whose body is similar to theirs - maybe if they've got a big tummy they'd look at me, or for big boobs Carma, or compact would be Kris - so they can imagine themselves in the clothes. It's not perfect, and having such a small inventory meaning I can't do returns makes it harder. But I am open to all suggestions about how to make it a better experience!
Sara asks: How do you work a full time job and run a House of Boom at the same time?
Thanks to you Sara! And all the other wonderful people who help me. I've been in my full time job for three and a half years, and I'm good at it, so generally I don't have to take it home with me. That leaves evenings and weekends for thinking. Most of my business is done online, so I can do that at night, with weekend shopping trips when necessary. I package up orders at night and send them out at lunchtime (or you carry them to the post office for me cos you're the best!) and Iona works massive hours too so she's really good at seeing me at night and weekends for fittings and planning. I use annual leave from my day job to do launches and pop-ups, and schedule social media posts in advance. I don't have a partner or kids, so my time is my own - except for my very attention-seeking cat Florence and the very chill Sebastian who y'all may have met in the changing room at pop-ups. And my friends are super supportive so I'll often combine hanging with them with getting Boom chores like folding undies done at the same time. Thanks friends! But seriously, I am very very lucky to be in the position that I am in life that I could take Boom on. Would I like to do it full time? Yes, but there's no way I could support myself in the style to which I'm accustomed at this stage. Maybe one day.