Rachael Chisenhall: promoting body empowerment through inclusive clothing brand
Inspired by working with people who struggle with eating disorders, this therapist made a clothing brand for everyone
Some women in this world live to shop, and some find the ill-fitting clothes and stores that don’t carry their sizes a painful invalidation of their bodies. They do the pants dance in the changing room, trying to squeeze into those cute-as-hell jeans while questioning why they go through so much torture just to find a pair of pants. This problem that so many women face resonated with Rachael Chisenhall, so she created Her Story Clothing Co, an online boutique that she says is made for “every body.” It launched in September and she is pleased with the traction she’s gaining—not only enthusiasm for the stylish clothes, she says, but recognition for the company’s values. Chisenhall recently penciled SN&R into her schedule to chat about how her company supports all body types, how she gives back to her community and her own fashion don’ts.
How do your clothes support body positivity?
We created a collection called Fashion Fit for Curves, because I don’t like the word “plus-size,” which most of the clothes [go] up to 3X. I also want the clothes to be just as good quality, cute and in style as the regular sizes, because a lot of boutiques don’t have a lot of cute “plus-size” clothes, in my opinion.
How did you come up with the name of the company?
One of the best things therapy can do for somebody is help them work on healing. Her Story Clothing Co came from telling your story, because your story matters … Also, it can be really healing and empowering to let people hear it, so that’s why on our blog we want to feature—every month—a new story about a person who overcomes any obstacle that got them closer to loving themselves. I promise there are others feeling the same way, and the story part unites people, and it’s a way to pay it forward.
What does body empowerment mean to you?
There are so many things, but I’ve been a therapist for over 10 years, and I primarily work with people who struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating, meaning that they don’t qualify for a diagnosis of an actual eating disorder. They do, however, have a poor relationship with how they see themselves, the food they eat and how they feel about themselves. So to me, body empowerment is tackling all those things, because if you love your body, you are going to treat it like you love it, or if you don’t, you are going to treat it like you don’t. I think it’s about empowering people to go toward a sense of, “I love my body, and it’s something I’m proud of, and I’m excited about how can I dress it up.”
What charities do you work with?
About two years ago, my husband and I went to New York and went to a gala there, and Project HEAL was there. It’s a national organization and the largest organization in the U.S. that helps people get treatment for eating disorders. A lot of people don’t know that treatment for eating disorders costs up to 20 grand a month, so Project HEAL raises money through galas and fundraisers. So, 5 percent of the proceeds of almost all the items in my store go to them. I also work with a local organization called Glass Slipper, which helps high-risk foster girls. So, for every “She Believed” shirt sold, 50 percent [of the proceeds] goes directly to Glass Slipper.
Have you always had a passion for fashion?
Yes and no, because I have always had a passion for shopping for clothes, and my husband and my mother will back me up on that. But I would say sometimes my passion has gone in and out because I struggled with my weight. My body changed since I had my baby—she is 2-and-a-half now—so my body is never going to be the same, to be honest. I even had to check myself, because buying clothes wasn’t fun when I gained weight. So instead of beating myself up, I went to go find clothes that looked good on my body.
Describe your fashion fail.
Oh lord, I don’t know how much time you have. In middle school, my best friend and I wore JNCO pants; yeah, your audience might not know what they are. They were really baggy, huge-legged jeans, and it was horrid. I don’t know why my mother let me go out like that.
I really want to build trust with my customers because we are so new, and I think that building trust takes time. It’s really important to me to make sure we have excellent customer service. Also continuing to look for good partnerships in the community and hopefully continue with Project HEAL and Glass Slipper.