Body Positive Beauty Ciera Rogers Built A Fashion Brand For Women Of All Shapes And Sizes
Houston native and body positive beauty Ciera Rogers was first influenced to pick up a needle and thread by her mother, a singer, who tailored her own costumes and later opened a thrift store. Her love of fashion paid off after Ciera eventually moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a stylist before launching her fashion design business Babes and Felines online. The brand currently has over 285k followers and counts famous names like Kim and Khloe Kardashian as customers. Ciera’s following is even bigger than her brand, with over 2.3 million devotees on IG, many who are drawn by her decision NOT to photoshop herself or her models.
With the recent launch of Babes and Felines 2018 Summer collection (leggings, maxi skirts, denim, swimwear, graphic tees and body suits specifically designed for curvy and full figured women, as well as a maternity collection) we spoke with Ciera exclusively about how she built and maintains her booming business.
How have your Houston roots influenced you?
Houston has influenced how frugal I have become thus making my brand super affordable. I don’t believe you have to spend a lot of money to have lasting chic pieces. Houston is very much embedded that in me because we were very poor growing up. This in return made me super creative.
Where does the name Babes and Felines come from?
I have always loved cats so that’s where the word “Feline” came from. Regarding “Babes,” one day I was visiting home from LA and this guy came up to me and friend and called us “hot babes.” It was super weird because it was random and black men in Houston don’t really talk like that. So, it stood out and I used it for my brand.
How did you find your clientele?
They really find me. Thanks to the internet, photos are reposted and that’s how you can be found by a customer. Babes has a healthy following because of this.
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever heard about your brand?
I love hearing that women wear my pieces forever. Some of my first pieces that I started with my customers are still wearing today. It makes me proud of the work I’ve done.
Stretch is obviously an important component of the line, how do you choose your fabrics/fabric blends?
I literally STRETCH it as far as it can go. I’m trying to see if it can fit Plus and Maternity and also bounce back to a size zero. Its important because as a woman with curves, I need the fabric to hug in some areas and stretch in others.
You use models with rolls, stretch marks, cellulite etc… How do you go about casting?
I just ask for real girls. When I do model calls, of course, I get professional models coming in but I really like the fit of my clothes on the “average girl” Also, everyone has flaws. Even models. Its not about casting really. It’s about editing less. Showing her natural beauty.
You have a huge following on IG — what’s your personal approach to branding and how you decide what images you share of yourself?
I tend to just post what I like, with a mix of what I think others will respond to. Sometimes those things are very different but keeping a huge following requires a balance. For example right now. I want to showcase more artsy images so I’ve done that. I’ve taken photos at museums that have gotten a really good response not only because of my “figure” but because of the mood I’m going for.
What sets Babes and Felines apart from other brands like Fashion Nova?
I really do admire the marketing Fashion Nova does. They are everywhere! I would like to strive toward that. However I think Babes differs from those type of brands because we aren’t necessarily “trendy” We pretty much stick to the basics because basics will last. I’m not sure if pieces from other stores will be worn as frequently or as long as pieces from Babes.
What’s been your proudest moment?
When Kim Kardashian wore my garment I was in shock. I never reached out to her or her stylists before that. When I did reach out they told me she purchased the items herself! That made me super proud. That she thought enough of my brand to actually purchase it. She not only purchased items but put me on her app when it first came out. I was the first post! That has to be my proudest moment.
Have you gotten any negative responses about the Kardashians wearing the brand or has it been all positive?
Its been mostly positive honestly. There are a few comments here and there about their image and how it can be disliked but I’m like.. is the outfit cute? Okay. Because that is all I am trying to sell here. Most people understand that and focus on the garments.
Talk about a moment you may have initially seen as a setback that ultimately provided you with a great lesson?
Honestly about two years ago, when e-commerce got really popular. I felt competition that made me insecure. When I first started I had to teach everything to myself. There weren’t as many options as there are now so I felt envious that the new stores had it much easier and were growing much faster. I think envy slowed me down and affected my business. Once I started focusing on how to set myself apart and stay in the game, it took a turn. I learned that competition can ultimately keep you on your toes and push you further than you thought you would go.
What’s the best and worse part of being an entrepreneur?
Making your own schedule is the BEST. You work for yourself so you can work when you want and have free time when you want. Also, no one can fire you.. This is something you’ve built that can last as long as you make it.
The worst part has to be that the work never stops. When you work for someone else you can go home and take a break from work. When you’re an entrepreneur, there are no breaks.
Check out some Babes and Felines apparel below then hit the flip for some of our favorite pics of Ciera exercising her unabashed approach to branding.