Like many of you, I’m just slightly obsessed with the TV show Downton Abbey. I immerse myself in the gorgeous dresses, the old-fashioned courting rituals, and the social etiquette of the early 20th century, and I can almost forget the injustices women had to endure during that time.
I especially love the idea of “calling cards”, small cards bearing a visitor’s name, picture, and often their family crest, left behind at a person’s home as a sign that a visit from them would be welcome in the visitor’s own home.
Now calling cards are making a comeback with a 21st century twist. Nicole Skews, a 27-year-old woman in New Zealand, was inspired when a friend was complaining about how she can never find cute curvy clothes at brick-and-mortar stores. “She was like, ‘I’m young, I have a full-time job, I’m financially irresponsible. It shouldn’t be this hard for me to buy clothes!'” Another friend was quick to agree, adding that she would love to leave notes around the store to show them exactly how much money they’re losing from her simply by not carrying her size.
With those simple statements, The Clothes Calling Card Campaign was born. Shoppers who are fed up with stores who ignore their sizes, at both ends of the spectrum (larger and smaller), can order their own customized printed cards, costing $3 for a 5 pack or $5 for a 10-pack. Best of all, 100% of the profits go directly to Dress for Success New Zealand, a nonprofit organization which provides career clothing and styling advice to women entering the workforce or changing careers who would otherwise not be able to afford them.
If you’re just too excited to wait for your cards to arrive in the mail, you can also download free calling cards at the link below and start telling stores right now how much money they’re losing by excluding you as a customer.
Whichever way you choose, make sure to mind your manners! Nicole cautions us, “The calling card is a positive thing. It’s saying, ‘Hey, I like you. I like your clothes, and I would have spent X amount of money here, but I can’t fit into them!’ — not, “Screw you for not stocking my size!”
Personally, I can’t wait to channel my inner Dowager Countess by leaving calling cards all over Boston. Even though I don’t have a lot of money, every dollar makes a difference to a business when they realize they’re losing money, and clothing calling cards are a great way for stores to really grasp the amount they could be making simply by carrying a wider range of sizes!
Nicole sums it up very well. “I think the ‘great success, job done’ moment would come when we see some kind of acknowledgement that translates into more stores diversifying their range. The first step would be for stores/clothes makers to go, ‘Actually, wow, this is how many people are currently alienated by having such a narrow run. Why is that?’ I want to see people asking questions about why this is the way it is.”
The first step to growth is always to question why you’re not growing, and we can help our local businesses grow exponentially simply by helping them to answer that question, so get out there and make Lady Grantham proud by doing your social duty!