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Hear Us Roar founder talks virtual styling services, offline meet-ups

Pureplay plus-size fashion retailer Hear Us Roar is experimenting with ways to take its online experience offline to better serve the brand’s tight-knit community and hopefully boost its bottom line.

As many of the brand’s customers live in regional areas and struggle to visit its pop-up stores in metro areas, founder Blaise McCann has begun testing a new online styling service to reach them.

Shoppers complete a detailed style questionnaire regarding their particular wardrobe needs, which a stylist from Hear Us Roar analyses and uses to create a customised look-book. The customer then receives the online look-book, which she can choose to buy from.

“We find that once our customers have been styled, they tend to spend more, they feel more confident in the brand and themselves so they keep coming back,” explains McCann. “That’s been hugely powerful to the business so we’re building an entire arm of the business for styling alone.”

“We’ve curated that experience for her and it’s a free service. It’s an opportunity for customers to feel heard and not overwhelmed. A lot of the problem with these huge online marketplaces is people get a bit lost, especially the curvy customer. They often don’t know how to dress their bodies, so being able to help with that experience means less returns for us and a much higher average order value that goes through.”

Hear Us Roar is also looking to move away from its current pop-up store strategy, especially as McCann has had trouble dealing with shopping centre landlords.

“We’re pivoting away from pop-ups because dealing with shopping centres is a nightmare. It’s too hard and they’re so expensive,” she said.

“No wonder businesses are closing left right and centre – because Westfield’s rents are exorbitant. It’s become one bad landlord after another. We’re working with AMP now and they’ve been incredible, but I’ve been struggling with everyone else, to be honest.”

Instead, the brand plans to organise something similar to Intimo-style parties, where the team will spend a week in a hotel and customers will pay to book in a one or two-hour styling sessions.

Style your life

Another initiative on the horizon for Hear Us Roar is a weekend getaway for customers, where they can bond with others in the community and hear talks from inspiring curvy women, including life coaches and entrepreneurs. McCann described it as “a top-to-bottom approach to styling your life”.

“We want customers to have an opportunity to be with similar bodies and shapes. It gives them a level of comfort in knowing they’re going through the same thing. That’s what we’re trying to do – finding a way to empower women outside of clothing,” she said.

“Some people come to shop, but on Sunday, we had three customers come into our pop-up store, all telling each other how awesome they looked. We want to recreate that [vibe], because a lot of these customers don’t necessarily have friends who look like them or to go shopping with. We want to create that community feeling, it’s the backbone of what we do at Hear Us Roar and we want to find a way to monetise that or at least foster that growth.”

A new voice

A new content arm for the business will also be launching in a few months, as the brand releases an online magazine which will showcase the achievements of talented curvy women. According to McCann, plus-size customers’ voices aren’t often heard in fashion magazines and the brand’s new title will give them the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the media.

“I think the plus-size body is always hidden. If [a plus-size woman] is doing something amazing, it always becomes about her shape rather than who she is or what she’s doing,” she explained.

“We want to build an online magazine that’s interactive as opposed to being a black and white mag and straight up editorial. We want to reinvent that world and tie it back with the e-commerce side of the business. We’ve got some big names coming on board for that and that will be coming in August.”

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