While working as a stylist and building a brand of vintage clothing, Ciera Rogers noticed a need for clothing geared toward curvy women body types—a community often ignored by the fashion industry. So Rogers took matters into her own hands and launched Babes and Felines, an affordable women’s wear collection for all shapes and sizes. Beyond creating a profitable e-commerce brand, the Houston native, with 2.3 million Instagram followers, landed Kim and Khloe Kardashian as customers. Plus she did it her way—refusing to Photoshop her models while promoting a body positive fashion collection of denim and fitted body suits, maxi skirts, tube dresses, swimwear, and a summer maternity collection.
We caught up with the rule breaker to learn more about her journey.
During your first few years in business, what were your toughest lessons learned and what advice would you have for other entrepreneurs?
I’d say one of the lessons I learned was how to do tasks on my own instead of hiring someone. For example, when I first started I paid people to take and edit my photos and do simple changes on my website. After watching some online tutorials on Photoshop and coding, I learned how to do things on my own which saved me a lot of money. Secondly, Google is free. A lot of things I’ve learned come from researching them on my own. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to learn to take initiative and self-learn. I see a lot of people waiting for answers to come from someone else. Their questions include “How do I buy wholesale? What platform do I use to host my website? etc.” Questions like this can be researched and answered on your own.
How did Kim Kardashian come across Babes And Felines?
Kim stumbled across my brand on Instagram and purchased the items from there. It feels surreal. I get nervous sometimes because I know the Kardashians are used to high fashion (haute couture) but they decided to mix that with my brand. Despite what people may think, her stylist told me that she is a heavy user of Instagram. She buys clothes online all of the time, which is pretty cool considering she can probably get it for free.
When it comes to using photos to promote your fashion line, you decided to forego heavy editing of a model’s imperfections like cellulite, dimples, skin tone etc. Plus, after Kim Kardashian wore your dresses, you kept your pricing affordable (e.g. dresses:$25, slacks:$50)—when many fashion brands would’ve jumped at an opportunity to raise their prices. From a business perspective that was a risky move but you followed your gut. How often do you use your gut in your business?
With business and life, in general, your gut is really all you have. Not all business logic and theory will work with every company so you have to trust yourself. When it comes to Babes and Felines, I use my gut with most decisions because I know my customers. I know them as well as I know myself and no amount of business logic can beat that. Leaving my models less edited and refusing to alter my prices after publicity came from my gut. I personally do not like over edited photos because I want to see what the clothes would really look like on me. I don’t appreciate brands that acquire some visibility and switch it up on their customers. My customers are the reason why I am here today so I respect them, and most importantly, their pocketbooks.
Another business decision I’ve made with my gut is not expanding into a brick and mortar. I think over the next 10 years, people will be shopping in stores a lot less. Technology is expanding. I see so many advancements in online shopping in the future.
Can you share two to three tips on how you have gained over 2 million followers on your personal Instagram and 283K on your business account?
Re-blogging and re-posting photos have been the major source of my following. To grow a large community on social media, you need to be re-posted and tagged by others. These shares come from me posting content that people like to see and showcase on their own pages. When users tag you, your following increases, which is subsequently how I built my following.
Another tip on growing your social media following is posting clear and good quality photos. There is so much great content out there, so you really have to step up your visual game. That means crisp photos with really nice backgrounds and places that are unique and interesting. Your content should make someone inspired or motivated.