Unfortunately, it seems like the fashion industry is oblivious to curvy petite women, and considers petite and curvy to be on opposite sides of the body type spectrum.
Struggling to find trendy and cute clothes that fit, and hearing from other petite women who have had similar shopping issues, inspired Harris to launch her own online boutique, Charrish11.
Harris had been working on her business for about two years before officially launching her boutique on June 29.
“My oldest son told me to stop procrastinating and just launch,” Harris says. “When the pandemic happened, I was like, ‘whoa, I don’t know if I should do it because all this stuff is happening. It’s probably going to be hard for me to launch.’”
Harris’s doubts disappeared after seeing how other online boutiques continued to bring in revenue despite COVID-19. Harris also noticed that since we were staying at home, a lot of people, including herself, have been doing more online shopping.
“I’m always online looking at Amazon, Pretty Little Things and Fashion Nova,” Harris says. “I’ve spent a lot of money during this quarantine because I’ve been at home.”
Following her son’s advice and feeling more optimistic about ecommerce, Harris decided to take the plunge and finally launch Charrish11.
Having a business that represented her as the owner was an important factor for Harris.
When coming up with names, Harris said she likes the name “cherish” because of its meaning. She then had an ‘Aha’ moment and discovered that if she put a C in front of her last name, it would be “Charrish.”
Harris says that she came up with 11 because her and her husband’s birthdays are in November and that 11 is a highly spiritual number. Harris says that 11 means high energy, enthusiasm and creative energy.
As a self-proclaimed engineer by day and fashionista by night, Harris has always loved fashion and working with her hands.
As a kid, Harris asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. “Most kids want toys, but I’m like ‘l want a sewing machine,’” Harris laughs.
Once Harris received her Singer sewing machine, she began making her own clothes.
Charrish11’s clothing is not designed by Harris due to the high costs of manufacturing, but Harris plans on designing her clothes in the future. In the meantime, Harris pays close attention to the type of clothing she buys from wholesalers.
“I try to look for items that I think will look good on the majority of body types,” Harris says.
Charrish11 specializes in clothing for petite women but also carries clothes for average-height and plus-size women, with sizes running from size small, or 4-6, to 3X, 22-24.
Wrap dresses, Harris says, are universally flattering.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re tall or short. The wrap dress works well because it accentuates your waist,” Harris says. “It’s just like one big piece of cloth. So it will adjust to whatever body shape that you have.”
Harris can also find bottoms and jumpsuits that are the perfect length for petite women.
“I would buy a pair of pants or a jumpsuit and then I would have to get it altered, and it ended up costing me more money to get it altered than what I bought the outfit [for],” Harris says.
Harris describes her personal style as trendy and sexy, but classy.
“I don’t like to look thotish,” Harris laughs. “I don’t like the trashy look, but I like to show off my curves.”
Harris has learned what looks good on her and other body types through research and trial and error.
I’ve been doing a lot of research for several years about different body types,” Harris says. “If you have a rectangle shape, wear this. If you’re an apple, wear this.”
Harris shares her style tips on her fashionista Instagram page, @TashBoog.
Harris’s Instagram has also played a huge role in helping her engage with customers and connect with influencers. One of her biggest supporters has been Kristin Ulmer, aka The Petite Pear Project.
Harris says that they have been communicating back and forth on Instagram for at least a year now and that The Petite Pear Project has featured Harris on her blog and has become a loyal customer to Charrish11.
“She really has been on my team in really helping me get my name out there and to get exposure,” Harris says. “It really has helped my brand and helped me get more exposure then I think I would have got.”
With COVID-19 still active, the future feels uncertain, but Harris isn’t letting the unknown hold her back from growing her business.
Since Charrish11 is still a new business, Harris’s main goal is to continue to increase her brand awareness.
“People have to be able to trust you before they will buy from you,” Harris explains. “For the next three months I’m really working on getting my name out there, being engaged on social media, so that I can build that trust factor.”
Harris is also researching manufacturers so that she can one day design her own clothes for the boutique. She also wants to eventually have a brick-and-mortar store and branch out to an accessory and men’s line.
Harris says that her husband has experience with owning a business and would take over the men’s division. The men’s line will include suits, ties, watches and other formal wear, and will not cater to a particular height or body type.
“My husband is more on the bigger side, like the 3X, 4X, and I know he struggles finding clothes too,” Harris says. “I’m sure he’ll incorporate something like that into the men’s side as well.”
Harris’s advice to other women looking to start their own boutiques is to stop procrastinating and just do it.
“You’re going to learn through trials and errors. So just get out there and do it,” Harris says.
Visit Charrish11 at charrisheleven.com, on Instagram at @charrish11 or on Facebook at facebook.com/charrisheleven.