Over the years, Caty Steward has become sharply attuned to the lack of plus-size options available in the fashion industry. Mainstream designers are often slow to offer a full range of sizes, catering primarily to the model sizes so often pictured in magazines. However, across the nation and the world, there are countless real women—with real sizes—looking for pieces that make them feel red carpet ready.
Steward aims to change this by launching Piper Rhea Boutique, a Baton Rouge-based online store dedicated to size inclusivity and promoting body positivity. Her objective, she says, to make women feel beautiful and confident while wearing pieces that also make them feel comfortable.
We caught up with Steward for an inside look at the her new venture. Read on for all the details:
1. What inspired you to create Piper Rhea Boutique?
It started as a quarantine experiment. I’ve always loved clothes, but as a plus-size woman, it was difficult to find clothes that fit well and were fashionable. My goal is to ensure that we offer lots of options and different styles. I want to make sure everyone is comfortable.
2. How did Piper Rhea Boutique get its name?
Piper is my dog and Rhea is my grandmother’s name. I wanted the name to feel familial.
3. What was it like opening a store in the midst of COVID-19?
Scary is the best word to describe it. You don’t know what will happen. But we thought about how much we–and everyone we know– have bought online these past few months. For me, it’s more sustainable.
4. What sets Piper Rhea apart?
The mission behind the boutique is to make all women feel beautiful, with a focus on bringing quality and on-trend plus-size items to local ladies. I tell my clients to let me know when they see something they love on television or online and I’ll hunt down similar pieces for them. It’s not quite personal shopping, but it’s definitely more personal than browsing alone!
5. What is a typical day like for you?
I wake up and start ordering merchandise for the boutique. I’ll head over to my mom’s house to pack up orders to ship out. I spend a lot of time researching for new ideas.
6. What is one thing you think customers should know about Piper Rhea Boutique that they may not be aware of?
It’s all me. I want to talk to you about what you’re looking for and help you find it. My mission is to let you know that you are already beautiful. If a piece makes you feel that, then I feel like I’ve achieved my goal.
7. Who are some bloggers/influencers you seek inspiration from?
8. What advice do you have for those struggling to find clothes to fit their shape?
IGNORE THE SIZE TAG! Every brand sizes differently and every designer cuts differently. Never trust what a garment looks like on the hanger. Put it on your body, and you will be amazed. This is why I make sure to photograph all of the Piper Rhea Boutique items on my models. This way, clients can see what they look like on different bodies.
9. How do you encourage others to practice body positivity?
It’s hard. I struggle with this myself. But remember, your self-worth is not determined by a scale. You have to ask yourself, “What am I doing to make myself better?”
10. And lastly, what can customers look forward to this fall?
On Friday, September 25, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Piper Rhea Boutique will be set up at the Electric Depot for the Ultimate Tailgate hosted by Sweet Baton Rouge. We will have some great purple and gold pieces for football season!
To learn more about Piper Rhea Boutique and shop the latest looks, follow the store on social media here.