Tracy Christian - Canvas Rebel

Enjoy this feature in Canvas Rebel about Sante Grace founder Tracy Christian and luxury plus size clothing line; Sante Grace.

 

We were lucky to catch up with Tracy Christian recently and have shared our conversation below.

Tracy, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to have you retell us the story behind how you came up with the idea for your business, I think our audience would really enjoy hearing the backstory.

I’ve never not wanted to have Sante Grace. I’ve been taller and broader than other girls for as long as I can remember – and I was never ok with it. I went on my first self imposed diet at 10 years old.

I can remember working at a plus size store and I had a client in the fitting room – a very accomplished woman. When I walked by the fitting room I could hear her softly crying. I was about to ask her if she was ok when an older sales team member shook her head and grabbed tissue from behind a counter. She stuck her hand behind the dressing room curtain and then walked away. Later the client came out of the fitting room, bought a few things and left. No one discussed her mussed makeup or the sounds we’d heard. My colleague told me I should expect clients to sob every once in a while; they were humiliated that the clothes didn’t fit. I was angry. So many emotions washed over me I didn’t know what to do – except I would be the one to end the crying in the fitting room. Shopping should bring you joy. It should be fun. Creative but never humiliating. So that’s what Sante Grace does. We make clothes that allow plus size women to live the lives they deserve. We end the crying in the fitting room.

Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.

I’ve been a talent agent representing actors, producers, and writers for almost 25 years and always had a keen interest in fashion. I even represented people like uber stylist June Ambrose, hair stylist Ted Gibson …. But during the pandemic production was down and for the first time in decades I had a little “free” time. I took online classes at Parson’s School of Design and started Sante Grace; a luxury plus size clothing line and online boutique.

I’m proud of myself. I love the clothes we put into the marketplace – sustainable, manufactured locally, and giving plus women chic and sexy looks.

We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.

When I started Sante Grace I was really fortunate to meet a plus women who was a production expert and owned her own retail store. We struck a deal where she and her team manufactured my designs and I was able to fine tune the design and manufacturing process for my company.

One day, in the middle of production I rec’d an email from her telling me she wouldn’t be able to follow through with my order. The largest order I’d ever made. Part of the order had been cut, waist bands were missing, it was pandemonium. And to make things worse I’d already paid for the work.

Sante Grace would be insolvent if I didn’t deliver this order and I had no more money and apparently, I was out of fabric too!

I allowed myself to get angry, then I said a prayer, and then started to problem solve.

Step 1 – what needs to happen for me to be able to deliver the order? – I met with everyone in my production chain and came up with a way to replace the lost pattern pieces and gave my head sewer a war time promotion. He was the one who came up with how we could salvage the production order without spending thousands of dollars to replace lost fabrics and pattern pieces. I now had the man power and the map but now I needed the funding.
Step 2 – I showed my regular vendors images from my photo shoot and was able to get a line of credit to replace the lost fabric. Then I converted my American Express points into cash to pay for trims and other production costs.
Step 3 – I added another sku to this production run so that now I was selling a full outfit instead of just the pants we were scheduled to manufacture. With a full “look” I could sell these unique pants faster. Clients wouldn’t have to think about what would match the pants. I believed metallics would be big but had no idea Beyonce would be on tour in just a few months and ask her fans to wear silver.
Step 4 – I had production delivered to my home so that I could pack orders each day. As soon as the money came in I paid a vendor. I’m biting my nails thinking about it. We never gave up and delivered every single order.

Can you open up about how you funded your business?

They say you either have time or money. It was the pandemic so I had more time than anything. I didn’t know how long production would be down so I had to conserve funds. I took classes in design and ecommerce from Parsons and took multiple “Masterclasses”to become an expert in design, production, marketing, photography, web design….. Before I could afford to pay someone to do the thing – I learned the thing myself.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Ana Ochoa

 

Meet Tracy Christian - CanvasRebel Magazine


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