As we celebrate 24 years in business, we thought we’d introduce one of our longtime Kiyonna influencers! Hailey has been wearing Kiyonna for years, and she is one of the many body positive babes that’s helping other women feel confident in their skin. We sat down for a virtual interview to talk about her body positive journey and her passion for fashion with Kiyonna.
1. Tell us about you!
Hi, I’m Hailey and I’m a sparkleholic. I’m a Georgia-Lina girl living in the Pacific Northwest with my husband of 12 years and our dogs, Finnegan and Dobby. I am crazy about boy bands (New Kids On The Block, Westlife, and Backstreet Boys are my faves), Outlander, Star Wars, glitter/sequins/sparkle, all things chihuahuas, and pigs with wings. I love playing Skyrim, ESO, and Animal Crossing. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013, which was a huge turning point in my life. While I am very much a homebody who prefers quiet time painting and game nights with friends, I am missing travel and adventure so much right now!
2. How would you best describe your personal style?
I call my style the 3Cs – casual, colorful, and cute! I’m a casual girl at heart, but I love fun and flirty pieces, colorful prints, feminine elements like ruffles, and sparkly embellishments. I’m practical but extra, so you will definitely see me in rhinestone sneakers; and I never leave home without accessorizing.
3. Why did you start a blog?
Growing up, I was constantly ridiculed because of my size from both family members and kids at school. I was constantly told how ugly, worthless, and gross I was. In my mid-20s I happened to find plus size bloggers with bodies like mine. I thought they were beautiful, so I wanted to try and see if I could think the same thing about myself. These bloggers really helped change my way of thinking, and the idea that someone like me could be beautiful and feel good in my skin was a revelation to me. As my own personal journey progressed, I wanted to be another positive voice in the world. I wanted to be able to help other women like me know that they didn’t have to be discounted and overlooked, that they could love themselves and be happy, healthy, and pretty just as they were. I wanted to share my ups and downs and all the things I love with the world.
4. Who is your style icon?
In terms of emulating someone’s style, I don’t think I have an icon. I try to learn more about myself and my likes and be as authentically me as possible. But if we are talking about style that makes me happy and I love, I would say Mindy Kaling, Caitriona Balfe, Sabrina on “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, and Betsey Johnson.
5. What is your favorite fashion era and why?
I’ve been drawn to the fifties era since I was a kid. I love the full skirts and fit-and-flare styles, glamorous hair, and makeup. I’m also drawn to style of the 40s a lot as well.
6. What year did you discover Kiyonna Clothing?
I first discovered Kiyonna towards the end of 2011. I was a size 26/28 and having a tough time finding clothes in brick-and-mortar stores, so I decided to take a chance and make an order!
7. How did you first hear about our brand?
I probably first saw Kiyonna pieces during an internet search for plus size clothes, or saw something on a blogger. I just remember being so excited that there were more clothing options out there that I didn’t even know about.
8. What stood out about our styles?
I felt like they were well-made, upscale pieces with a timeless look. Kiyonna items looked more polished and adult. They represented who I wanted to become one day. I was so used to just buying items that happened to be on clearance and fit me that I hadn’t given myself a lot of time to think about my own personal style at that point in my life.
9. What made you decide to become an affiliate for Kiyonna?
It was a no-brainer. I love the clothing! Every piece from Kiyonna has been well-made, fits well, and has made me feel beautiful. I want everyone to know about Kiyonna and have the opportunity to feel the same way.
10. Do you remember your first Kiyonna style? Tell us about your very first memory wearing that top/dress/skirt.
My very first Kiyonna style was the Maggie Polka Dot dress! I loved the vintage feel of it and decided to go ahead and buy it during a big sale, not knowing how anything would fit. When I put it on, I couldn’t believe it fit me so well! The upper arms were perfect. I didn’t feel like I needed shapewear. It was flirty, fun, and made me feel so pretty for the first time in a long time. I was hooked! I wore it for a Valentine’s Day dinner with my husband and felt so special.
See Hailey in the Maggie Dress here.
11. What’s the style you’ve received the most compliments while wearing?
Oh my goodness! I don’t think there is a Kiyonna style that I’ve worn that hasn’t received a compliment. The Stop and Stare Ruched Dress gets tons of compliments! I wore it while doing a segment on Portland’s Afternoon Live show about breaking plus size fashion rules and the dress was a huge hit! The Wrapped In Luxury Dress has been a go-to for holiday parties and always gets strangers coming up to me to compliment the style. The Vienna Maxi Dress has been a huge hit, both in person and from my readers and followers online. And the Penny Peplum Top always gets compliments too. I’m wearing the Penny on the website for my local humane society because my husband and I were in their 2018 calendar!
12. Name your top favorite 3 styles and share a positive memory you had while wearing each one.
1. I wore the leopard print Promenade Top to my VIP New Kids On The Block concert in June 2019. I felt super cute and totally on theme for the Mixtape Tour. I sang into Donnie’s microphone during the show and met him afterward and finally got a hug! (He said my eyes are irresistible!!)
2. Another well-worn Kiyonna style I own is the Chameleon Convertible Skirt. It has been comfy for road trips, breezy summer days, a great piece to throw in the suitcase. I was wearing it when my husband and I bought our house. It goes with pretty much everything!
Check out Hailey in the Chameleon Convertible Maxi Skirt here.
3. The Kelsey Flounce Top is another piece that goes with everything. I own it in all three colors! I wore the black one with my Outlander tartan skirt to the Portland Highland Games. That was a super fun day! I also wore it with the Celine Chiffon Maxi Skirt and a wonderful artist (@aprilheatherart on Instagram) drew me!
13. If one of our classic styles were to be renamed after you, which one would it be and why?
Just based on the fact that it is my most-worn style and I own quite a few colors and prints, I would say the Promenade Top. It is cute but practical and easy to dress up or down. If I’m going on a trip, there is usually at least one in my suitcase.
14. What style do you find yourself recommending to fellow plus size gals?
This answer also involves the Promenade Top. I love the easy fit and how it accentuates my bust but gives me a bit more room everywhere else. It is great for travel. It can easily be casual or a bit dressier. I particularly love the prints and always get compliments when I wear any of mine. Kiyonna also does wrap dresses so well. I always mention those, especially for easy work pieces.
15. Have you introduced Kiyonna to a loved one that ended up becoming a fan, too?
I’ve had the pleasure of introducing so many people to Kiyonna thanks to my blog. So many folks have reached out to say how much they love the pieces they have purchased, and how great they feel in Kiyonna. On a personal level, I ended up sending a close friend of mine a Promenade Top because she commented on how much she liked mine (it was the blue and white striped version). She was having a rough time when it arrived and then she sent me a picture of her in the top with this huge glowing smile. It has become one of her favorite tops and made her a Kiyonna fan!
16. What’s your favorite Kiyonna photo post & blog you did?
It is so hard to narrow any of these questions down! My shoot for the Penny Peplum Top was super fun! We went to a local park at sunset, so the lighting was spectacular. I felt super, duper cute and ran into a friend on her walk that evening. There was also a bagpiper playing, so I was tap-dancing around and having a great time listening to him play as I took photos.
I shot the Harmony Faux Wrap Dress at my favorite winery in Oregon during one of their tasting events. My husband and I went with some friends who were happy to wait while I shot the dress. But they are hams and decided to get involved by acting like a director and lining up shots, climbing trees, and posing alongside me. I was laughing so hard I was crying.
Read Hailey’s review on the Harmony Faux Wrap Dress here.
17. What is your favorite style of all time?
I would have to say the Wrapped In Luxury Dress. It’s a gorgeous velvet teal maxi that I don’t get to wear very often, but it makes me feel like a movie star. It always gets so many compliments from friends and strangers when I wear it!
18. What 3 adjectives would you use to describe Kiyonna?
Classic, chic, delightful!
19. In your opinion, what’s the one thing Kiyonna does better than other plus size brands you’ve tried?
Wrap and faux wrap dresses. No other wrap dress fits me the way Kiyonna’s do. The fabrics and prints, along with the fit, are just so well done.
20. What’s a style you’re currently eyeing, but haven’t purchased?
I’m always stalking the new arrivals to see what comes out. A new to me style I have been eyeing is the Eden Faux Wrap Dress. I adore a ruched detail and that print is gorgeous!! And I’m always debating with my wallet about why I need the new prints of the Meadow Dream Maxi and Vienna Maxi!
21. What would you like to see from Kiyonna in the future?
I’m forever obsessed with all the beautiful prints and color combinations Kiyonna introduces. I would love more separates and knit top styles. More prints in the Promenade. I would love for the Kelsey Flounce Top and Chameleon Convertible Maxi Skirt to make a comeback.
22. What’s your style advice for other ladies?
Forget the rules! We have all been taught so many rules about what we should and shouldn’t wear. Unlearn all of that and focus on what makes you feel amazing and reflects who you are. I also highly recommend pushing yourself to try new things outside of your comfort zone from time to time – new colors, new necklines, new styles. I always learn something new about myself and it almost always has incredible results by opening up a whole new world of items I love!
23. What Kiyonna style were you afraid to wear, but glad you did?
I was terrified to try a bodycon style. The Stop and Stare Ruched Dress and the Bianca Ruched Dress were both equally intimidating to me. The floral Stop and Stare just blew me away. I thought it was going to highlight the things I am most self-conscious about, but it actually made me feel so feminine and sexy and powerful. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to love my body even more.
We hoped you enjoyed our interview with Hailey, aka @DivineMrsDiva. Visit Hailey’s blog Discourse of a Divine Diva for more amazing content.