After a decade in business, the ladies behind the local clothing boutique The Plus Factor launched their own designed-in-Sudbury clothing line last month, and customers have been flocking to the store to check out the pieces.
The new clothing line, called Black LABB, was created by Linda Audette, the store’s owner, and Becky Boileau, marketing manager for The Plus Factor.
Black LABB is an acronym for the two women’s names, as well as a tribute to Audette’s new puppy, a black labradoodle named Cash.
The ladies said they went to a fashion trade show a couple of years ago, and were disappointed with the offerings.
They went back to their hotel room, and over a glass of wine or two (OK, maybe a bottle), they came up with the idea for Black LABB.
“Becky and I work hand-in-hand,” said Audette. “We end each other’s sentences, usually. So our ideas, when they start to flow, it’s usually a danger field.”
Boileau said neither of them have been to design school, and she doesn’t even “sew a button,” but knew what customers were looking for just by listening to them.
“We got some fabric, we ended up draping it,” she said. “We looked like clowns for a few days. We ended up cutting it. If someone were to watch how we actually produced this line, they’d shake their head.”
They brought their concepts to a sewing company in Toronto, and worked with a seamstress until they came up with their sample garments.
The (very eventual) result is Black LABB, a Canadian-made line that runs from sizes small to 3X, meaning it’s inclusive to almost every body type.
They are producing a tunic, poncho and a poncho with arms, as well as a sash that can be used to complement the garments. With the exception of the sash, all of the pieces cost $99.99.
Boileau said her “heart races” whenever a customer tries on one of the pieces, as she’s nervous of what they’ll think.
“Even if it’s negative, you want the truth and the real feedback,” said Audette. “You get scared, but then they come out, and it’s just smashing hot, amazing, stunning.”
So far, the pieces have been selling well.
Audette said their eventual goal is to wholesale Black LABB garments across Canada. Another ladies’ clothing store in Guelph is already selling the line.
The Plus Factor has now been around for a decade, after first opening its doors Nov. 1, 2010. The retailer even had a Timmins location for five years, but it closed in 2017 because the area didn’t have a large enough population to sustain the second store.
Audette said she decided to open The Plus Factor after being frustrated with the lack of professional clothing choices for curvy women.
“I was just very frustrated and tired of not having options,” she said.
Despite its name, The Plus Factor primarily caters to women from sizes medium to 3X.
“We have everything from casual to business and everything in between,” Audette said.
“Our stock covers primarily about 80 per cent Canadian made as well. It really makes a difference with the longevity of the garment. My line is, you’ll get sick of the style before it wears out on you.”