Since then, I have put myself out there and learned to listen to my instincts! And these are the things I’ve learned…
1. The path may not be linear.
I moved to New York from Wisconsin, wanting to work in the fashion and beauty industries. My first internship was at Chanel where I had to stock Karl Lagerfeld’s refrigerator with Diet Coke. I worked with other industry luminaries. I got to work closely with the Bobbi Brown.
I found success as a fashion publicist, hyping other people and brands, and I was good at it. I had a successful small agency called Tinder PR (yes, this pre-dates the app, and yes, I sold them my URL!).
I met and was dating a native New Yorker, which to me, felt like I had been truly accepted in the city. I even had made my dog famous through @ToastMeetsWorld, and people were noticing.
And even though I am a naturally confident person, I was finding it hard to be comfortable in my own skin. I was constantly dieting and working out, doing my best to barely fit into a size 10. And I was losing myself in the process.
My boyfriend turned into a husband, who turned into an ex-husband. I had failed at marriage, I had plateaued in my career and I gained 60lbs. Still reading? It gets better from here, I promise.
2. Saying “yes” could change your life.
I felt like I had hit rock bottom. So the only place to go was up! I made the decision to take ownership over my own happiness, and from there I stopped the cycle of telling myself I had “10 more pounds to lose.” I stopped saying mean things to myself. I realized that none of that mattered. Bad things still happen even if you eat a healthy lunch. You may still get divorced, even if you work out every day!
Often times you can’t recognize the opportunities around you. But I had a friend working at a fashion website who said they would love to feature my style. I was shocked, but I was game. When the story went live, the response was overwhelming. Women were thrilled to see a different body type represented in the media. That was an AHA moment for me.
From there, I started a blog called The 12ish Style, and my tagline was “for all my size 12 girls living in a size 2 world.” It was meant to be hacks, tips and tricks where women could shop- where to find size 12 shoes, how to style a men’s jacket if you couldn’t find it in your size, but it has become so much more.
I’ve been able to meet so many women – on and offline – who have told me how much they needed someone to identify with. We’ve grown to become a community, a safe place for conversation and celebration.
I started to put myself out there, and I got a response. I wanted everyone to know that you can have style at any size, and you can put your confidence on first.
3. HUSTLE (and trust your gut)!
My success with The 12ish Style gave me the confidence and the platform to launch another business, Megababe. I had thigh-chafe and boob sweat and there were no products on the market that solved these problems or spoke to me. So I set out to fill the white space, and Megababe was born.
Though I knew that these products were needed by myself and other women, I found myself sitting across from men in meetings who just didn’t get it. The deeper I dug into the world of beauty, the more I realized the back of the house was made up mostly of men who were not going to be convinced that my products would be successful.
Of course, I knew with every fiber of my chafe-prone body that they were wrong. I’m as much of a beauty junkie as the next, but from where I was sitting, the category desperately needed to modernize. There’s nothing wrong with products that treat aesthetic concerns like dark spots or, yes, cellulite. But what about products that treat real issues? The kinds of issues that force you to take a cab when you’d rather walk or that make getting dressed a near impossible feat? What about products that empower and celebrate instead of focusing on fixing a flaw?
I hustled and people listened. Now the brand has now been been picked up by Ulta, Target, Nordstrom, and more. We’re launching new products this summer. We sell out. Our deodorant, Rosy Pits, had a 13,000 person waitlist!
I have had the opportunity to go on national television and reach a global audience. Nothing feels better than getting messages from women who tell me I inspire them!
Two things that have really resonated are #MakeMySize and #SupersizeTheLook. #MakeMySize is a positive movement where I highlight brands that I want to wear that do not yet make size 12+. I post myself on Instagram trying on clothes- showing just how far the brand is from making my size (not afraid to share the good, bad and the naked, sorry Dad!) I have had some incredible responses from brands. I posted an image from Veronica Beard for #MakeMySize and a few months later, I was hired to consult on the brand and model in their presentation- and now they’re expanding their size range!
#SupersizeTheLook is where I share that style has no size! I find style inspiration- whether it be from a celebrity, friend, etc. and show how I rock the same look. Now women are using these hashtags themselves and sharing their own experiences which is incredible to see.
4. Do you. It’ll pay off.
Once I stopped focusing all of my time and energy on how to be a size 10, I was able to channel it into something that helps and inspires thousands of women on a daily basis.
I don’t care what the number on the scale says, I focus on what feels healthy and good to me, and so should you!
Katie Sturino is the founder of Megababe and The 12ish Style. She is a model and activist, fighting for more inclusive sizing in the fashion industry. She is mom to @dogmeetsworld and lives in NYC.