How This Project Started
I am often asked to define our "customer" or "demographic", and it's always an impossible question for me to answer. As if a group of powerful women from all over the world - with such inspiring variety in lifestyle, body type, occupation, and ethnicity - can be summed up in a sentence or statistic. Our community is comprised of all kinds of women, and I have been craving a way to show that well. Being an online company, it’s always a struggle for us to communicate with customers in a thorough and meaningful way, and we’ve felt for some time that our imagery has been lacking in representation. I wanted to celebrate all the women who are 00-16, short to tall, daughters to grandmothers who bring ES to life. We were going to do a shoot with models of various sizes and backgrounds to show how our garments work on different women and to better represent the diversity present in our customer base. The planning was slow-going, and none of the models we tried casting felt right.
At a media staff meeting, I explained that what I really wished we could do is photograph our actual customers - real women who already wear ES and represent the diversity of our customer base perfectly because they are it. Once it had been said out loud, there was no turning back. We shifted gears, and re-organized the shoot so that it would center around ES customers. After reaching out on social media and receiving hundreds of applications, we selected thirteen women to participate. We flew them to Nashville, set them up in AirBnB’s, held an incredible intimate dinner Friday evening after a full studio tour here at our warehouse, and spent the whole day Saturday shooting.
Every single garment in our Signature Collection was photographed in each size it’s available in, and those images will live on each product page so every shopper can confidently envision a garment's future in her own wardrobe. But this project was about so much more than size. It let us see firsthand how transformative confidence can be, it was a reminder to us of why we love what we do, it was a joyful celebration of the full gamut of individuality that gives Elizabeth Suzann its soul.
What it Turned Into
Spending the weekend getting to know each of these ladies, watching them interact and become fast friends, dancing and smiling and sharing stories - the experience moved me in a way I didn’t expect. In the days following the shoot, it became clear that there was more here - more to explore, more to do, more dots to connect. I want to make shopping with us not just easier and more comfortable - I want it to be welcoming, joyful, inclusive. I want to reach out more to our customers and find even better ways to connect and interact. I want to encourage and strengthen communication between the vibrant and spectacular women that are a part of our story. I want to remember why the clothes we make are important, and never forget how powerful the act of getting dressed is.
Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who felt like there was a deeper vein to this project. Beyond the moving experience of the weekend itself, the response to the concept of this campaign was telling. The interest and excitement that you all expressed was evidence that you’re craving more information, more inclusion, and more ways to communicate with us (and each other) about our products. So, in addition to the campaign images living on each product page as planned, we have built out an entirely new area of our site dedicated to sharing customer images and information. This allows us to create individual profiles for customers, letting shoppers see tons of real women wearing ES and learn about their lifestyle, size, and experience with our garments - and hopefully make an excited and informed decision about their own purchase and involvement in this incredible community.
It will also let us further celebrate the inspiring range of diversity our customers represent - this page will paint a much broader, more colorful picture, and will hopefully become an indispensable resource for inspiration, encouragement and understanding. Profiles are filterable by various categories, so you can easily find another customer that you identify with and see how they’re wearing ES. We want to go beyond the product image, and show how our clothes are meant for real living and all women.
DIFFERENT BUT ALSO THE SAME.
Each of these women is wildly different. They have different occupations, different family lives, different body types, different skin colors, different tastes in food, different stories. They became individuals in different parts of the world, in different decades, and under different circumstances. The motivation for this campaign was to highlight how different and varied our customer base is, and to paint a more accurate picture of the incredible women who are the beating heart of ES. But ironically, the thing I can't stop thinking about now is how much each of these women had in common with each other. They are all fiercely intelligent - holding meaningful conversation all weekend long. They were so welcoming and kind, lifting each other up and supporting each other continuously. Each one shared a deep appreciation for the things that matter in life - their families, friendships, and purpose. They were all full of laughter, good questions, and encouragement. I can't help but feel like these women - and all of our customers - are cut from a special cloth. Surrounded by such happy, radiant people, I truly felt overwhelmed by the goodness of humanity.
To the thirteen women that traveled here to shoot with us, and to every one of our customers and followers across the world that are a part of this community: Thank you for being yourselves, for being honest and kind, for being intelligent and witty, for embracing your own strength and beauty, for being part of something big, and for giving me something to believe in.