Fashion: Behind the Glamour

As I sit here at 1:00AM sipping the last of my Venti Mocha Light Frappuccino with an extra shot of espresso, while I stare down mountains of work ahead of me, I decided to take a caffeinated mental break from the 68 (YES 68!!!) Excel spreadsheets that I have to complete in the next 13 hours. Not to mention a client emergency, pricing to evaluate, and prepping for the Fall / Holiday / Winter 2015 photo shoot. So, I’d like to thank my marketing team for asking me to blog more often for the mental health break.

Today, I want to paint you a picture with words – a picture of the fashion industry from the inside out, in contrast to how the fashion industry is portrayed. How do you see fashion? Chances are you see the fashion industry the way it’s portrayed in the media, on shows like “Project Runway” or in movies such as “The Devil Wears Prada”.

The flash of a camera, the swish of silk, a glint of beading, stars posing on the red carpet, the buzz of a crowd, watching designers rise to success, Fashion Police, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, art & beauty at its finest – some of us dream of fashion every day. We get addicted to the glamour, the pomp & circumstance, the way you feel in a designer pair of sunglasses or when you carry a bag that you scrimped & saved every dollar to invest in or how tall you walk in a brand new pair of shoes. It’s intoxicating & FUN!

In reality, fashion is also a tough business that’s a lot more work than people realize. We get to do the fun, creative stuff about 2 months out of the year combined, which includes designing, travelling to tradeshows such as MAGIC, fabric shopping in LA or Dallas, planning for & styling photo shoots, and taking part in fashion shows and charity events.


Fabric Shopping in the Fashion Disctrict, Downtown, Los Angeles
Jennifer Cobb, Co-Founder

As for the other 10 months… heck, there is way more to this that I even realized when we began our business! In the fashion design & product development arena that I had experience with previously, we had a huge team of people that worked on logistics, design, technical design, marketing, inventory control, inspections, picking & packing, sourcing, customer service, website, graphic design & more! My factories took care of the majority of production & development steps because we produced 1000-10,000 pieces per style! Kalliope Kids isn’t quite there yet, but hopefully we will grow to that size! ☺

Although being a designer can be glamorous, we put more blood, sweat & tears into our business to ensure we have happy retailers & customers alike. Trust me, there’s nothing glamorous about lugging 50-80 pound bolts of fabric around or pulling an all-night pricing session on Microsoft Excel or getting down and dirty with inspecting or controlling inventory & shipping to our retailers. It is hard work, but even the toughest days at Kalliope Kids, Inc. are SO MUCH FUN because we genuinely love what we do!

Above all, we aim to empower children and help them to feel amazing in their own skin! We want to see little girls “cha cha” in their Kalliope Klassics Wide Leg Ruffle Pants or twirl like a princess in her beautiful new dress or smile the biggest in her class photos because she feels beautiful in her new Kalliope Kids outfit.



We want to mom’s to be eternally proud showing off their handsome little boy or beautiful little girl in their new photos. And we want little boys to feel like the cool kid in his new dip dyed or hoodie style shirt. We want to help to educate children and boost their self-esteem, while fighting against child abuse, abandonment & cancer. And we work hard every day to accomplish this mission through our love of fashion. I invite you to join us on the journey! It’s sure to be an exciting one!


From Flattering to Fabulous Fashion

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. But, in all honesty, who hasn’t? We all have things about ourselves that we consider to be flaws, but our flaws are what make us unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful human beings! I’m so very blessed to be a plus-size girl who is very comfortable in my skin. I embrace and love my curves as my unique beauty!


Before: September 2013 – Catwalk for Hope Fashion Show
After: October 2014 – San Antonio Fashion Week

For the record, I’m very healthy, as I’ve done countless 5K runs and accomplished my first half marathon 4 years ago and am currently in training for my second. I do a body pump weight lifting class among other gym classes and training at Gold’s Gym at least twice a week and I always run at least a mile after the classes. I also have PCOS, which makes it hard for me to lose weight, but I lost 56 lbs in 2014! I’m proud of myself, and plan to continue this healthy lifestyle.

Many of my friends and family members struggle secretly with body image. As a result, I was raised to dress in outfits that were “flattering” first and foremost. While flattering is extremely important, I never felt like I could wear the “fashion” that I fell in love with early on in life. So, rather than rocking clothes that showed the world on the outside my own true style, personality and love for fashion, I shopped in the 90% frumpy plus-size section of department stores.

I tried on clothes that were tolerable prints, colors & shapes that flattered or hid my less than perfect bits. Meanwhile, I would jealously stare down size 2 girls wearing styles that I was dying to wear. I thought I couldn’t pull it off or find anything for my size or shape. My transition from flattering to fashion evolved slowly… Friends encouraged me to try on clothing that came in my size that I loved whether I thought it would look good on my pear shaped body or not.

What I found surprised me! It turns out that clothing that’s form fitting and shows off my tiny waist and hugs my hourglass hips and booty actually make me look better than those clothes I tried to hide in. I’m most self-conscious about my arms, so I never wore sleeveless tops or dresses. When I wear sleeveless, my body looks better and people notice ME as a whole! No one even sees the horrible nightmare of flabby arms that I analyze in the mirror.

When Jennifer and I decided to start our clothing line, Kalliope Kids, Inc., I knew I had to step up my wardrobe. I’ve always dressed fine, though I didn’t really have a “style” other than “flattering”. Now I’m in touch with my own personal style. Accessories don’t have a size limit, so I express myself through accessories quite a bit.

I’ve found my style, and how to make it work for me! I love to dress in a modern vintage vibe, much like our clothing line, with bohemian inspiration from the 70’s, styling cues from the 20’s, pinup inspiration from the 40’s for that little bit of glam with modern details and combinations! I love texture & prints like lace, feathers, bling & distressing.

Maxi dresses are my best friend and always make me feel great no matter what I feel like that day. There are still pieces I love that I can’t get away with, but you apple shapes sure can! Pieces like tailored blazers, crop jackets, wide leg ruffle pants, leggings, knee high or over the knee boots, shorts, mini skirts, etc. But guess what? Pears like me can rock a high waisted 2 piece bathing suit, empire waist anything, wrap dresses & tops, dresses of almost any style (form fitting may need spanx for less jiggle), maxi dresses, skinny belts, etc.

I have a passion for making children smile & feel fabulous in what they wear, but I also have a passion for making women feel fabulous & dressing women of all shapes and sizes. Perhaps this is a glimpse into the future? We shall see!

Stay tuned for styling tips!
-Nicole Campbell, CEO



Hello fashionistas! First, let me introduce myself! I’m Nicole Heavin Campbell, CEO & Co-Founder of Kalliope Kids, Inc. – A Vintage-Inspired Clothing Line for the Modern Child. My best friend since high school, Jennifer Cobb Jones, and I founded this business both to pursue our love for fashion, business & entrepreneurship, and to inspire others through philanthropy, individuality through fashion, and children’s charity & outreach. Most of all, we get joy from making people smile when they see or wear our designs!

Every great designer has a compelling life story. The one I see most includes a love of dressing up their dolls or Barbie’s when they were little. I’ve often wondered why I didn’t love playing with my Barbie’s as a kid, if I always loved fashion the way I do now. I’ve pondered, “What would my story be when Kalliope Kids becomes successful and our dreams really do come true?” What would I tell our fans? Well, it just dawned on me that I’ve loved fashion my whole life, despite the lack of Barbie fashion!

I was browsing Facebook & my intern Lauren had posted a picture that said, “We believe that playing dress up starts at 5 and never really ends”. I completely agree! It got me thinking about how much I’ve loved playing dress up my whole life. I was literally obsessed with twirly dresses, faux fur stoles, heels, pretty antique pill box hats with bows & birds nest veils, antique jewelry and lots of it! I’ll never forget choosing my favorite pale blue Easter dress specifically because I liked the way it twirled!

I obsessed over real fashion, going through my mom’s clothes, shoes and especially her jewelry. I grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s, so everything was big, chunky, colorful, and sparkly. I dreamed of owning my own pretty sparkly rings, earrings and necklaces. I would teeter around in my mom’s heels and dreamed of wearing her teal prom dress one day. Even as a teenager, I would sneak into her closet and put on her amazing silver strappy heels with a twirly dress or pretty nightgown and prance around like I had watched Baby do a hundred times in my favorite movie, Dirty Dancing.

My Mom, Granny and Paw Paw loved to take me and my friend with them when they went shopping at the local Bealles department store. I couldn’t have more than 5 years old. I saw these FABULOUS shoes with chunky heels with clear plastic mule peep toe (SO in at the time). I HAD to have them. Aren’t shoes every girl’s weakness? So, I asked my Mom for them. When she said no, I asked my Granny. When she said no, I asked my Paw Paw. I was so determined that I put my hands on my hips, cocked my hip with my loose wavy pigtails swinging and announced to anyone within earshot of my loud mouth, “I’ll NEVER give up!” All three of them failed miserably in attempt to squelch their laughter. My granny silently picked up the shoes, walked to the counter and proceeded to buy them for me!

It was a similar story when I discovered all the new rage in footwear — jellies (flats made of clear plastic, often in bright translucent colors & glitter embedded in them). I HAD to have them, and my mom was determined that they were “tacky” and looked cheap. “But MOM!!!! Everyone has them!!!” I would argue. She never cared what everyone else had or did, so my argument was completely ineffective. Luckily, after what felt like eons of begging, she understood how badly I wanted them. When I couldn’t decide between the pale pink glitter and the turquoise glitter, she got me both! Yessss!

In elementary, whenever I went to a friend’s house I loved to see what gems they had to play dress up in! At one house, they had these two matching peach twirly dresses with a ruffle along the bottom hem and neckline. I loved to spin around and make the dress morph and change into pretty fullness and back again! I would get to their house, put on one of the dresses, make one of my friends wear the other one and never take it off for the entire sleepover. That includes sleeping and playing in the mud. To this day, I hope I didn’t ruin the dress!

I still enjoy the creative challenge of dressing my plus-size, voluptuous body in the most fun, young, appropriate way possible. Flattering comes first, then fabulous fashion! I embrace and love my curves and hope to help more women & men embrace their beauty & body the way they are. Everyone is beautiful or handsome in their own unique way. I want to inspire confidence in children, and hopefully the men & women that we touch with our story!

Jennifer and I find inspiration everywhere when we design – including nature, fabrics & trims, antiques, the enthusiasm of children, thought leaders, and people. What’s your story? What do you love? What inspires you to be GREAT? Tell us!