Dia&Co is after every curvy girl's dreams.
The company, started by Harvard Business School graduates Nadia Boujarwah and Lydia Gilbert, has boomed into an amazing business. Dia&Co is the first subscription styling service specifically for women sizes 14 and up. It matches each customer with a personal stylist who curates a box of items based on the customer's budget, style, body type and wardrobe needs. This year, Dia&Co is releasing a full page ad in The New York Times on the first day of NYFW (today, February 9) asking designers to start including sizes for women of all shapes and sizes.
We spoke to Nadia and Lydia all about their company and why it was important for them to start their #MoveFashionForward movement.
Check out what they had to say in the interview below:
When did each of you realize that you had a love for fashion? Who did you turn to for fashion advice or inspiration?
Nadia: I’ve always had a deep love for fashion, but as a plus size shopper, I’ve always struggled to find stylish clothing that fit my body and suited my shape. Nevertheless, I made it work! I have done everything from design my own clothes to combine pieces to create my own look. For inspiration, I have always looked to my grandmother, (shout out to Abuela Migdania!). My earliest fashion memories were admiring her 1950s inspired, chic-with-a-little-Caribbean-spunk looks!
Lydia: It’s only been more recently that I’ve been inspired to play around with fashion and with my style. So I’d say that I’m a fashion “newbie”! Actually, I turn to Nadia for a lot of my fashion inspiration -- she is the friend that always pushes me outside of my comfort zone, gets me to try on pieces that I never would have before. Sometimes you just need a best friend to get you exploring!
Do you have any specific horror stories of going shopping — one moment that sticks out the most?
Nadia: I have one, absolutely. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to go to junior prom -- and the part I was most excited about was picking out a dress. But I couldn’t go shopping with my friends, because the stores they were going to didn’t carry my size. So I ended up going with my mom to the one store in town that we thought would have something for me. When we got there, the only formal wear available in my size was a hideous sequined pantsuit. The disbelief and frustration I felt in that moment stuck with me for a long time. Ultimately though, we made it work — I ended up designing my own dress for the prom, which turned out to be an incredible experience. I definitely learned early that sometimes when nobody else is giving you options, you have to take matters into your own hands.
How did Dia & Co. start?
Nadia: I knew from personal experience that shopping as a plus size woman usually wasn’t easy or fun — but it wasn’t until I was at Harvard Business School (where I met Lydia) that I discovered how many other women shared the challenge I faced with finding stylish clothing that fit. 67% of women in the United States wear a size 14 or above, yet plus size clothing only accounts for 17% of total apparel purchased. As we began to investigate this massive gap, it became clear that retail was failing this customer in an inexcusable way and this was a problem we could dedicate ourselves to solving.
Why did you think it was important to start this company?
Nadia: We founded Dia&Co because we believe in the power of style. Style can transform how we feel about ourselves; it can inspire those around us; it can spark self-love. Style is not a size — style is an expression of identity. We believe all women deserve equal opportunity to express their style, and it was important to us that we do our part to make that happen.
What was it like when you first launched? What thoughts were running through your heads?
Lydia: We were always determined. Some people may have called us delusional, but we were always incredibly optimistic. We knew that this company had to exist and that our customer deserved so much more. So for the first 1,000 customers, we got to know them very personally — the names of their kids, the new dates they were going on, the job interviews that they were taking. We talked to each and every single one of them over the phone, we personally shopped for each individual, and we folded, packed and shipped each box ourselves. It was a true labor of love. And while it was grueling, it gave us a keen perspective on who she is and what she is looking for from a new type of shopping experience. So it grounded us in deep understanding of her and led to our customer-centric focus for the company.
What has the response been like?
Lydia: The response has been phenomenal. Over the past two years, Dia&Co has grown very quickly: we’ve worked with more than a million women, and we now have customers in all 50 states and in 80% of the country’s ZIP codes. Best of all, our community is highly engaged, and they give us constant feedback to help us continue to develop and improve our offerings. We’re honored to serve such a dedicated and diverse community of beautiful women.
Talk to us about your #MoveFashionForward movement?
Nadia: Dia&Co is launching a bold campaign on Febuary 9 to bridge the gap between major fashion designers and the 67 percent of women in the United States who wear plus size clothing. There has been so much talk about inclusivity and diversity in fashion over the past few years, and we’ve seen exciting moments of progress for plus size women in that time, yet we are still so far from true inclusivity. Most importantly to us, the progress has yet to be felt by the 100 million women in this country who still do not have access to the same stylish options as their straight-sized counterparts.
With the #movefashionforward campaign, we’re aiming to move the ongoing conversation on size inclusivity from talk to action, by offering designers practical support based on the expertise we’ve gained from working with over one million plus size women over the past 2 years.
As part of the campaign, we’ve taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times Thursday Styles section on 2/9. In it, we’re issuing a call directly to designers in town for Fashion Week, challenging them to move fashion forward by creating designs for women of all sizes.
Read more about the inspiration behind the movement on page 2 >>>