A few weeks ago we posted on our Instagram grid a caption relating to the new lengths of skirts we had introduced to our Spring Summer collection. This caption referenced a certain length being great for people with bigger legs, bums and hips to cover up.
A short while after writing the post, we received both a comment on the post itself as well as an private message, highlighting concerns about the wording we had used when describing who certain styles worked for. As both people mentioned, insinuating that a certain size should ‘cover up’ is both negative and hurtful to those it is being aimed at.
As soon as we received the comments and re-read what we had written, the post was amended. We also then contacted both people directly to not only apologise but also to thank them for holding us accountable and to see if we could speak with them further.
The reason for continuing the conversation beyond an apology, is because Heidi and I are two people (with a very small team around us) and when you are this small, you have to acknowledge there is only so much we can learn from one another; so when we make a mistake - this being a prime example - we feel the only way we can truly learn is from the people who were willing to contact us, make us aware and ultimately offer us better insight into what we can do moving forward.
Of the two people, we heard back from one, Lis, who very kindly said that we can reference our conversation in this blog.
Lis wrote us a direct message on the back of our post with a lot of detailed feedback about what the wording that we used in the post meant, and it was from this message that she then gave up time in her day to have a call with us.
Listening to Lis’ feedback and also her experiences with the fashion industry, it really hit me how much certain words and phrases have negative connotations attached to them. Lis referenced (and I am sure many millennials out there will agree) the use of phrases such as ‘legs, bums and tums’ nodding to those fitness DVDs and the diet cultures that have been prevalent over the last 30 years.
Perhaps it is because I am at heart a marketeer and lover of words, but it was hearing that off the cusp phrases such as this can be so damaging, that really hit home. When it comes to writing copy, although Heidi and I do schedule some content, we actually write most of it ‘off the cuff’. In an effort to be as real as possible (on a platform that is so easy to pre-plan and curate), we purposely write and post ‘in the moment’ as we feel it is one of the ways we keep the authenticity of our brand alive. That said, we must hold our hands up and acknowledge that in this instance, this ‘off the cuff’ post, really missed the mark.
When speaking to Heidi about the wording that we had used, we realized that it was the lack of context on the post that also didn’t help. The reason we had chosen to highlight the different lengths of skirts available was because prior to this collection, our skirts were only available in a ‘mini’ length. We had received repetitive feedback from customers who referenced being larger and that our mini skirts just did not work for their body shape.
However this explanation did not exist on the post; and instead we had carelessly told people to cover up. As Lis pointed out, we could have so easily tweaked what we said to reference ‘anybody who wants to cover up’ and it is clear that in this moment, we rushed what we were doing and did not think about what we were writing.
Reflecting on our call with Lis, I realise the power of listening to those in our community. To have people who feel that they can reach out to Heidi and I when we do make a mistake… and in this case, give up their time to talk us through where we went wrong…is so incredibly valuable.
So thank you Lis, for reaching out and for being so honest and open with us. And to anyone else who read the post that I have been referencing, from both Heidi and I, we are really sorry. We would never mean to cause offense and going forward will put more time into the comms that we put out there, regardless of whether they are scheduled or written in the moment.