Q&A: Melissa Walker Horn, Blogger, Suger Coat It

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Becoming the master of ones own destiny is something many shy away from; it’s difficult, emotional and down right scary. Facing these challenges with a smile on ones face can be even harder. Melissa Walker Horn, otherwise known as Suger Coat It, is one of these people. This woman has constantly pushed her own boundaries and continually evolves herself into the big hearted, funny, generous, ambitious soul she is today.

Melissa is a big name in the plus size world and it has taken taken an enormous amount of commitment and passion for it to be so. But, blogging isn’t her only job. She used to be a real estate agent in her home town Gympie, but transitioned to a not for profit to help create some balance so she could also manage her social media company, and blog! Lets not forget her role as wife to Mr Suger. Respect lady, RESPECT.

Her posts instantly resonated with me. Being a plus size woman can be a struggle for many reasons; one being our joint mission to find great quality and stylish clothing. But, her posts are real and relatable. Feelings and experiences she wrote about, I understood. The highs, the lows and everything in between.

In the weeks approaching my 30th birthday, she posted a fabulous and seriously OTT glitter outfit. I wanted it. I needed it. So, I messaged her desperate to know more details; within a few days it was in my hot little hands on loan.

Naturally, Melissa is a woman I wanted to profile and her answers didn’t disappoint.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

 

What are the biggest challenges the Australian plus size fashion brands are facing?

From my experience speaking with brands and hearing them talk lately, I think it’s funding their ranges and the stock requirements. The best thing we, as the customer, can do, is get behind the brands we love with our money and our support. I know that I want to see these brands survive and flourish, so I try to do my bit, and we all can do that.

How has the Australian plus size fashion game changed over the past ten years?

I started blogging in 2009, and since then the options available in plus has exploded. I still remember the first time someone told me to try ASOS and I was like, on the floor. Not that they’re Australian, but it opened up this idea that plus could be fresh, modern and on trend. I love that. Not to say there weren’t Australian brands already doing that, but to see it on that scale was huge.

For me, the fashion ‘game’ has changed in the sense that it’s a busier space to operate in. Lots of new brands and bloggers popping up, lots of requests for time and attention and more and more we see ‘plus size models’ in mainstream media. It’s exciting to see progress; I can’t wait to see where we end up in the next ten!

Is plus size fashion different? If so, why?

I wrote a post about it once prompted by a Tumblr post that stated it’s like ‘slaying a dragon’ to find the pieces, sizes and styles to put together a killer outfit. And it’s not just about what the customer goes through to express their personal style; it’s all of it. Plus size fashion is so different from the way we shop, the way we are REQUIRED to buy,  and the money spent marketing to us is ridiculously different.

It’s different because for a long time now fashion didn’t want to include us, society didn’t want to see us, and even within ourselves, we felt that we didn’t belong. But every step we take away from those ideas shifts things, we may not be there yet, but we’re closer than before. But THAT is why it’s different. 

The plus size model industry seems to be going from strength to strength. Who is your favourite plus size model? Why?

I have a few favourites! I adore Margaret Macpherson for that killer bone structure and an even better personality. She shines, and I can see why that makes her popular with advertisers and customers alike. You just can’t fake being a genuine person, and Margaret is one hundred percent that.

My other favourite is Laura Wells because of the way she conducts herself and the conversation she is part of online. But mostly because once I saw her at a show with poker straight hair in like a billion percent humidity, so she’s gifted. She seems like she has this great sense of humour, that appeals to me.

What do you hope to see from the Australian plus size fashion industry within the next five years?

I want to see more effort. I want to see campaigns that knock me on my butt, shows, grand openings, and launch parties. I want plus fashion to look every bit like mainstream fashion. I want us to claim our spot as the majority of women in this country and demand that brands try harder for us as we have for them as they found their feet. I want to be wooed and wowed; for shopping to feel like this big dramatic, heart flipping courtship and the clothes are the prize. I’m sick to death of some shoddy rack in the corner; I want plus and extended sizing to take centre stage.

What are the top ways to grow your online influence?

Be human is my number one tip. I don’t care what anyone else says or does; I think you need to operate online as you would in your life. Here’s the hot tip, fakes and posers get found out sooner or later, stop trying to be someone you’re not and be real.

Be honest and genuine with people, sure there’s a curated theme to social media, but that shouldn’t stop you sharing your wins and losses with people. It’s about connection and putting yourself on some magical pedestal will never serve you.

Then be consistent with your content and keep delivering the best you can provide for people. It takes a lot of work to deliver high-quality, valuable content to people, I know, trust me. But the good news is that they appreciate it, and if you do it consistently enough, they will love you for it.

How has the plus size blogging sphere changed over the last ten years?

It’s less about the blog, the actual website, and more about your reach across the social media platforms. We are one hundred percent content creators now, for us, for brands and for the causes we support. You become an influencer when you can manage to engage people across the board, and when that happens it’s powerful in a way that it wasn’t when the industry was new.

The plus size blogging space is more competitive too, more so now than when I started seven years ago. I think a lot of new bloggers arrive on the scene all the time (through Instagram especially) and they realise that a blog is a lot of work. Like, a lot! I’ve seen some people give it up over the years because life happens and blogging is time-consuming, it takes something to keep generating content day after day and year after year.

Why did you start to blog?

I started it because I’ve always loved to write. I wanted a place to record a few thoughts, some images I found online and things like that. At the very start, Mr Suger and I were trying unsuccessfully for a baby, and there was a community online that go that. The I found plus-size fashion and body positivity, and I never looked back. I love the interaction and community that a blog offers, I’ve always said, if I wasn’t into that side of things I’d keep a journal instead.  

You talk about bodies and confidence in an online environment. Unfortunately, these topics typically attract bullies. How do you deal with this?

I handle them with a swift kick in the delete button. There have been times where my urge to sass them has been greater, but it uses so much energy to interact. I just delete them, ban them and move on. Some people assume that means I don’t like to be disagreed with or challenged, but I love that, I just won’t stand for body shame or insults. I think if you want to have a conversation, great, I’m in. If you’re just here to take a dump in my space, then I won’t allow that. Be gone fucker.

Balancing your ‘real’ job, family, friends and your online presence can be tough – what gets you through?

Systems and scheduling get me through the mess of all the work there is to be done. I try to work in batches and plan well in advance. I manage a social media business alongside my blogs and the podcast, so it means that I have to fit my client’s social media in there as well.

I keep all the balls in the air and try to rest as often as I can so I don’t burn out. And rest for me is a day at the beach or kicking back on the couch with a book or Netflix. Brain free time!

My top tip for balancing all the things is that no matter what I make the time for my family and friends. If I can make it to an event, a coffee or a catch-up, I will. I may not be able to be at everything, but I like to think that the people important to me know that I’ll be there if I can be because they are the most important parts of my life.

How do you handle life when your worlds collide?

It’s the funnies thing, I’ve been blogging for seven years now and in the past year or two people in my hometown have only just started to notice. It’s fun and strange to be approached at the shops or have someone from here follow the blog. It used to make me feel self-conscious about sharing as openly as I do, or things like posting photos in my underwear or swimwear, but I try to push that aside. The community on my blog deserve the best of me, not some watered down version just so I don’t feel weird about some stranger in the supermarket knowing what I look like in my undies.

We are both strong believers of being who you are. How do you achieve this?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred time, my big secret to being who I am, and living that to the fullest, is to stop giving a fuck. Stop letting other people tell you what to do or looking to them for your happiness.

How do I achieve that? I do the things that make me happy and the things that advance my dreams. I stopped asking for advice I didn’t want and started trusting my gut. Piece by piece my life started to fall into place in a way that I loved, that became the incentive to keep going. This is your one chance, take control and live it in whatever way you see fit.

What’s your must-have beauty item?

Errr, next question, I’m a beauty items fail.

Does it matter if that outfit makes my bum look big?

Nope! Never. I have no butt; sometimes my aim is to MAKE IT look bigger than it is. Haha. So no, it doesn’t matter if that outfit makes your bum look big, embrace the big bum. I think that for too long we have been told that women should be this or that, should look this way but not that way. Sooner or later we have to decide that some random, far off ‘they’ aren’t going to tell us what to do anymore.

For me? It’s sooner rather than later. Maybe it was easier for me because I never fit into the ideal woman mould. I was always too tall, too broad, too athletic, too something… So I stopped using that as a measuring stick. Sometimes I think that it’s harder for women who ‘did’ fit to move on from that ideal or rebel against it, because it’s easier to try to get back there than carve their own path outside of it.  

Which are your favourite clothing brands?

17 Sundays are my go-to, always. I picked up some basics from Target and ASOS, add in a few swimsuits, some active wear, and that’s about it. I’m a simple girl; I don’t need much to keep me happy. And don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Haha.

What items are consistently in your handbag?

Apples, I seem to find those things everywhere. My stash of sunglasses, a phone charger, chewing gum and a whole bunch of random receipts. My bag is a huge mess.

The one item you must have while travelling?

Mr Suger! He’s such a laugh, which no matter where I go or where I’m travelling, he is what I want with me. After him, a water bottle, a phone charger, sunscreen and a good book.

What is going on?

I have been absent from blogging for nearly 4 months. I know, a very long time.

Please forgive me, it has been a very testing time for me. Very testing. But, I glad to be back – in some capacity. How regularly, I don’t know but I have some posts lined up in my head that I am very keen to share with you. Hopefully you will enjoy them!

So, thanks for all your comments and commitment to checking the blog regularly.

Stay tuned….

2014 – what did it mean to me?

For us in Australia, 2015 is only a few hours away.

I, and many other millions of people, get to this time of the year and become very nostalgic about all the experiences that have happened over the last 364 days.

People I have met, activities I have done, dreams I have conjured and achievements unlocked.

2014 has been a particularly interesting year for me. In 2013 I left a stable job in the pursuit of happiness before my impending 30th birthday. This process didn’t start and finish in 2013. In fact, I am sure this process will continue far into 2015. However, major highlights of 2014 included scoring a job I love, travelling, turned vegan for a week, meeting great new people who I am so pleased to say are my friends, swimming naked for charity and meeting Michelle Bridges and featuring in one of her videos as part of her 12 WBT program.

But, a great year doesn’t just mean amazing things happened to me. I was fortunate enough to be sitting front row and centre to witness my closest friends lives unfolding. Close friends fell pregnant, had babies, met the loves of their lives, and others married their soul mates.

I am truly blessed to experience all that 2014 had to offer my loved ones.

Overall, it was a pretty good year.

But, as someone who wants to achieve greatness (which I am still defining) I am setting some resolutions for the next 12 months. As you will see much of the focus is on building a healthier, wealthier and more happy life. Here is my list of resolutions for 2015!

1. Shopping ban – as shared with you already, I will not buy any new clothes, or make up in 2015. I just don’t need any more ‘things’ in my life….

2. 10,000 steps x 5 per week – with so many changes to my life this year, my exercise regime has fallen off the radar. I have purchases a fitbit, so monitoring my steps everyday shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ll be in touch on this one…

3. Manage stress – by nature, I’m a worrier. For those situations that do warrant stress, I don’t manage it as well as I could. So 2015 will be the year I experiment with other ways to help manage it. If you have any suggestions please drop me a line!

4. Grow my nails – over the last 2 years I have grown, and bitten my nails off numerous times. But right now, my stumpy nails have been painted a blue/green colour to help avoid me biting my nails.

5. Prioritise me – I’m single, and I live by myself, surely this should be easy?? In some ways it is, but other ways it’s not that simple. With a focus on next year being a happy and healthy one, this will be front of mind as I navigate the year to come. Hopefully in future years, this will need to take a back seat so I plan on focusing on this when I can!

6. Blog more! – I love it, so why not do it more? I’ve made this promise before, but I have set a metric around this for the coming year – at least 2 blog posts per week!

7. Hobbies – I love doing lots of things. But, I need to remain focused on 1-2 hobbies and stick to them!

8. Travel – I don’t want to over do this next year, but each year I do set the goal to visit a new international and domestic destination. I’ve achieved this over the last few years, and I love it so I hope to continue with it.

9. Charity – life isn’t just about taking, so in 2015 I would like to decide on a charity I can get involved with and give back to a society which has always given us a lot.

10. Be more positive – this is a standing goal because very little can be achieved while being a negative nancy. And frankly, it’s no fun either!! I’ve found being positive increases ones happiness and general well being, so why not nurture something that makes me feel good.

Some of these resolutions are simple, and others are a little more complex. But either way, I hope these will allow me to have a great 2015. There is always a fear of not knowing what’s coming, but the hope and excitement that what’s coming will be great pushes me along!

However, 2014 has not been overly kind to the world at large. Even though I have specific goals which benefit me, I sincerely hope that the people on this planet can play more nicely with each other. We have so many major issues to tackle now and for the future such as food resourcing, starvation, unimaginable violence and poverty. Even though I won’t change these by myself, I do hope to take a very tiny role in this change – will you?

I will leave you with a quote which is appropriate for the 31st December 2014 – “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again“. Thanks, Nat King Cole.

Otherwise, I hope you have a happy, healthy and wealthy 2015! See you on the other side xo

Summer styling

Nearly a year ago, I participated in a shoot with an old school friend of mine in North Sydney.

It was an incredibly hectic afternoon, but in between outfit changes (outside a local all boys high school), but we had such a fun time.

My modelling skills really are something to be desired, and in retrospect I should have at least brushed my freshly washed hair, but some of the photos aren’t too bad.

I am all about authenticity and these photos definitely show it!

In this group of pics, I am wearing a favour brand – Jones New York. The clothes are reasonably priced and great quality.

For summer, I love colours and a bright yellow dress makes everything seem that much better.

With my height, I sometimes enjoy a below the knee length dress, and the belt adds the extra shape to my body. The only disadvantage to this dress is the bust area is very ….generous. My own bust lets me down in this dress, but c’est la vie! Or, in Spanish, asi es – it is what it is!

The style of the dress, with the cross top and and the swishy skirt makes for a feminine feeling dress. I would happily wear to work or on a weekend to a lunch with girlfriends or a BBQ with family.

I hope you enjoy the pics.

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Happy Anniversary!!

Well, I made it a year!

OK, so I haven’t blogged in several months (whoops,shame on me), but today is my one year anniversary of being a plus size, style blogger! And hasn’t it been an absolutely cracking year.

I have done so many things I never thought possible – swimming naked in front of a thousand people might have been one activity and starring* in a Michelle Bridges exercise video may have been the other. Many ups, and many, many downs. And yet, here I am to tell the tale! Even if it is 11pm on a Monday night. And with a smile on face, and a heart full of happiness.

So many ideas have fluttered through my brain, and so many hopes and dreams sauntered around thoughts. Many of which you have been part of, but many will always remain hidden out of view.

To those who read every post I write, thank you. To those who read my posts and connect with my thoughts, thank you. To those of you who read my blog, and start to realise that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, thank you. Your feedback is always warm and strongly embraced.

I promise to be a more consistent blogger in 2015, because there are so many more thoughts and outfits to share!

Much love,

Pip

*starring = OK, I may not have been starring, but my role may be more aligned to being a prop – a snippet to come !!

Queen B, Me & Shorts: NYE

So, it would seem Queen B is reading my blog about how fabulous shorts are this season. As she partied with hubby Jay Z at P Diddy’s party in Miami, she rocked a Versace shorts number.

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Image found here

Unfortunately I wasn’t rocking sexy Versace hot pants, however, below is my NYE outfit – naturally, with shorts.

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NYE in Australia is hot and I wanted an outfit that wouldn’t be too hot whilst being suitable for a NYC party in a very trendy inner city loft. The white shorts, wedges and clutch gave a casual feel while the black lace top added the femininity and style. I love Elie Saab perfume which added depth to the outfit, as did the colour from the nail polish and earrings.

Outfit details:

Top: Karen Kane Grace Lace Top

Shorts: Lafayette148ny in white

Shoes: Target AUS wedge in black

Earrings: Tiered Indian style (purchased from David Jones)

Clutch: Michael Kors

Nail polish: OPI, Too Hot Pink to Hold ‘Em

Perfume: Elie Saab