First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Monif Clarke: We are doing well. Thank you for asking! COVID-19 has and is affecting everyone around the world. We are doing our best to protect ourselves and the people around us.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Monif C.
Monif Clarke: I am the CEO and Founder of Monif C., a plus-size clothing brand that I started in 2005. I am a plus-size woman and was very frustrated with our options in the market. I never understood why women that look like me never had access to sexy and fashionable clothing. Clothes that made us feel beautiful and dynamic. It was a big leap for me as I am not a formally trained fashion designer, but I dived in, and here we are 15 years later.
How does Monif C innovate?
Monif Clarke: Innovation, for me, is about problem-solving in a unique way. My customers are VERY vocal and always let me know what they need and what is missing in the market. I do my best to respond to their needs. I find that I like to break new categories. I started designing plus size swim because I was going on vacation with my boyfriend at the time and couldn’t find any swim in my size. I knew nothing about designing swimwear, but I decided to try my hand at it. It became our bestselling collection and was sold in ASOS, Macy’s, and Forever 21. Recently I decided to design plus size lingerie, which is another category that is usually ignored for plus size women.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Monif Clarke: The coronavirus pandemic, fortunately, increased our sales. Everyone was home with their partners, so lingerie sold quickly! Our biggest challenge was shipping; shipments out of China would usually cost 2X because of airline limitations and backed up shipments. In addition, many fulfillment centers delayed receiving packages from China until they were sanitized, which delayed receiving. The post office and other carriers also had a lot of delays, and we could not ship to our international customers for a while. Thankfully most of the issues have been resolved as of today.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Monif Clarke: Thankfully, there were no difficult choices to be made. Having been in business now for 15 years, I’ve learned to roll with the punches.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Monif C in the future?
Monif Clarke: I try not to let stress get the best of me. Meditation and prayer are my keys to managing stress. My family life is pretty amazing. Coming home to a supportive, loving partner and family is a game-changer.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Monif Clarke: There are numerous plus-sized brands out there, but I’ve been doing this for 15 years, so I’ve seen many come and go. I don’t worry about the competition; we all have something to offer. Our customers have been shopping with us for years, and as long as they are happy, we will keep doing our thing.
Our Etsy shop: monifclingerie.etsy.com.