When Blaise McCann is asked to describe her retail marketplace for women’s fashion, she is emphatic: it’s not just a business. “It’s also very much a movement,” McCann tells SmartCompany.

“[It’s] about empowering women to feel good about what they look like [to] find clothes in their size.” McCann is the founder of Hear Us Roar, a two-sided marketplace for ‘plus-size’ or ‘curvy’ women’s clothing. Launched three months ago — and born out of McCann’s own experience as a model for the past 10 years — the retail platform connects local fashion designers who make women’s clothing in larger sizes with customers who are looking for exactly that kind of clothing.

Hear Us Roar currently sells items from 10 designers, holding some of the stock itself and drop shipping other items. The goal is to build the platform into a global marketplace that can also shine a light on Australian fashion designers. This month, McCann is one step closer towards that goal after winning the $5,000 top prize at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Hatchery Accelerate Demo Day at the end of November.

Pitching against 10 other UTS-founded startups, McCann impressed a judging panel that included Blackbird Ventures partner Samantha Wong, BlueChilli chief executive Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin and Margaret Maile Petty, executive director of innovation and entrepreneurship at UTS. Having now completed the three-month Hatchery accelerator program, which includes workshops, mentorship and an equity-free $2,000 grant, McCann says she intends to invest the Demo Day prize money in advertising her business — something she has yet to spend a dollar on.

Even without advertising, Hear Us Roar has racked up $10,000 in revenue from McCann’s own networks and to date, she’s sold clothes to five recurring customers — a detail that she is proud to share. “It’s such an emotional problem,” she says of the search many Australian women have for clothing that will not only fit them, but be suited to their age and lifestyle too.

Department stores in Australia are seriously missing the mark in catering for women who wear bigger sizes, says McCann, and the specialty fashion retailers aren’t much better. While it is more common to find options for older women, McCann says for younger shoppers, the lack of ‘cool’ options is frustrating. Read more from smartcompany.com.au…

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