Entrepreneur Women Who Lead

Roxy Earle on the Business of Influencing

Roxy Earle stands in front of a pink wall and wears a snake print bikini from her swimwear collection with Joe Fresh.

Roxy Earle wants you to know that the term “influencer” doesn’t even begin to grasp the business behind leading a community of over 95,000 people.

Roxy Earle, better known as @luxuriousroxy online, rose to prominence after being featured on Real Housewives of Toronto. Building off her fanbase from the 2017 reality television show, Earle has managed to grow an online community that is dedicated to following her every move.

She is one of many women who have unlocked the key to building a business around, well, themselves. Often called influencers because of their ability to sway purchasing decisions and build communities, Earle argues that they’re entrepreneurs—and huge contributors to the economy.

“I think a lot of people think these are fluffy businesses and I won’t speak about dollars because these are private deals, but we’re talking about very significant contributions to the retail market in Canada,” she says. “It is unbelievable what an influencer or a girl on Instagram can sell.”

Earle quickly realized the value in her audience and her voice. And while many influencers stick to promoting products to their audience, she has woven herself into many verticals of the entrepreneurial space, from collaborating and designing with leading fashion brands to creating her own health and wellness app, Ana.

Her latest venture, a swimwear collection with Joe Fresh launches today (May 13, 2021) and is set to be a staple in summer wardrobes across the country. Inspired by Earle’s stance on body confidence and feeling good about yourself every day, each piece was created to accentuate every body type and caters to a wide range of sizes. 

“I have had every experience on earth of trying to find cute swimsuits; swimsuits that were the right price, that gave me support in my chest, that were flattering, and that were stylish,” says Earle.  “You might’ve been able to find one, but it was definitely all black.”

The Joe Fresh collaboration is just one of many ways that Earle is dedicating herself to her mission of helping women around the world feel better about themselves. Known for her daily dose of confidence for many women online, she carefully considers the impact she can make with every move and aims to make it a positive one. 

She notes that it can be nervewracking to share her life—the good and the bad—with her community, but does so knowing it may help someone else feel less alone. And though there may be critics at times (or trolls), she has remained steadfast at being true to herself along the way.

“I like to share those trials and tribulations with my followers. When you’re vulnerable, it can be scary for most, but for me, it’s my power. My truth is my power. Nobody can take anything away from me,” says Earle. “They can critique and they can judge, but at least I’m being me.”

For the latest feature of our The Influencers series, Bay Street Bull spoke with Roxy Earle about chasing her entrepreneurial ventures, building a dedicated community, and helping women around the world feel better about themselves.

Q&A

At what point did you realize that you could have an impact on an audience and share a meaningful message?

Obviously, it started with the TV show—it gave me a platform. I came in at this moment in time where social media was really negative and fake and everything we were seeing was these perfect lives and perfect bodies. You would see a mom with a stroller and a newborn in a $10,000 outfit walking down the street with her hair and makeup done. And you’re like, “Is anyone actually living this way? Or is this just for the gram?” 

I saw it as an opportunity to talk to women about things that were honestly affecting me and have honest conversations with them about what it was like to think you were pretty fabulous and then go on TV and hope people like you, and then instead, have the entire essence of who you are, become about your body. When your body isn’t something that you spend all your days thinking about, it’s very interesting to all of a sudden find yourself in this place where every question, every interview, every byline opened with my size. 

I was like, “Why is my size so revolutionary?” I did not understand why my size was the thing people were leading with. I’m accomplished. I have an interesting life. I have interesting things to say to the world. I’m hopefully saying inspiring things to women. Why are we only talking about my body and my size? I’m so much more than my body. So when I realized that that was the direction things were going, I decided, let’s be real about this. Let’s tell my story about what it’s like for me as a woman who loves fashion, but fashion doesn’t always love me back. 

That’s where it started: having honest, open conversations with people that I thought out there might relate to. And I was right. Women related. 

Roxy Earle poses in front of a pink wall wearing a snake print bikini from her Joe Fresh collection.

From having these open conversations and having a receptive audience, you’ve been able to build up your own brand, Luxurious Roxy. How did that come about? How did it turn from having an audience and a community to “Can I build a business off this?”

It came out of what the best businesses are born out of, which is a need. I personally could not find clothes that were stylish and that I felt reflected my personality and my love of fashion in my size. On Real Housewives, I could not shop in any store in Toronto that wasn’t in the basement of a mall or next to a food court, where you walk in and you immediately feel worse about yourself. I thought to myself, “If I can’t find anything that’s stylish that I want to wear, there is no way anyone else can.” So I thought, if it’s not out there, I’m just going to make it. 

I called up the top retailers in the country—I didn’t even call their PR teams, I called their CEOs—and some of them took my call and some of them didn’t. A great Canadian entrepreneur, David Segal of David’s Tea and Le Chateau took my phone call and I said, “Hi, my name’s Roxy. I’m doing this thing. I want to build a collection with you.” And I was convincing enough that they took a meeting with me. 

At that time there was no proof of concept of my business: the idea that stylish clothes could be made at the same price point size 0 to 22, all in one store. I was trying to convince them that if they allowed me to design a collection, I could sell clothes to a size 4 and a size 14 and a size 22, all at the same price point, making a profit and driving new customers to their business. I didn’t frame it as “I think you should do this,” I created a business case for why they should be doing this. And that’s how it started. My collections with Le Chateau were very successful and after that, I was able to talk to other retailers I admired. 

Joe Fresh and I had the same type of meeting. They wanted me to do some work for them, to post some outfits or promote something. And I said, “I would love to come in and talk to you about what I’m doing.” I met with the team and I told them about how I believed I could design clothes that would have higher sales and be made for women with curves because I was the woman designing them, and they were receptive and very open. All along the way Joe Fresh has taken my feedback and listened to me and really let me work with their design teams to talk about fabrication and cuts and the technical aspect of how we make clothes that are more supportive, more flattering, and better for a woman of many body types. 

On that note, I think it’s so important for design teams to have input from the women that will be wearing them, not just created things they think will look nice [but not be practical]. What were your inputs on the designs? 

I think the experience that I have is what I bring to the room in any business and any partnership. And in this case, I have had every experience on earth of trying to find cute swimsuits; swimsuits that were the right price, that gave me support in my chest, that were flattering, and that were stylish. You might’ve been able to find one, but it was definitely all black. There was nothing that stood out and was bold and chic and elevated. 

When I worked with the team, we worked off my own experience of struggling to find swimsuits that I felt confident, comfortable, and chic in. We started with things like the bust: What kind of support does a woman with a big chest need? And where should a swimsuit cut on the waist? In the design, we focused on silhouettes that were going to be something that made a woman feel great in her body across a broad spectrum of size ranges, that showed off and celebrated the curves, not hide them.

We had the best consumer test group ever: 90,000 women on Instagram telling me everything they’ve ever wanted in a swimsuit. And I involved them [the followers] in the process. I talked to them in my stories. I asked, what are you guys looking for? What do you want? And they give me feedback. I was able to take all of that data into informing the decisions that Joe Fresh and I made when it came to the design.

And you touched on it a little bit there, how do you hope women feel when they are wearing your designs? 

Confident. I think that is the secret to my success and my life: my confidence. And my confidence is something that I practice every day, it’s not something I was born with. It’s a thing that I work at. I have gone so far as to develop the confidence theory, which are principles and teachings about how you feel good. And so, the clothes are just an extension of my ultimate goal that is I want women to feel happy and confident every day. 

How can I tell them to go enjoy their summer, if they cannot find a swimsuit that fits them, that’s affordable? If they’re not physically comfortable and then they don’t feel good, how can I expect them then to go live their best life? 

More than an influencer, you’re an entrepreneur. There are many things that you’re working on at any given time. In addition to this swim line with Joe Fresh, you also have an app. What kind of lasting impact do you want to leave for anyone who interacts with something that you create?

My goal across everything that I do is to inspire a generation of women to feel better about themselves. I believe that women are so held back because they spend and waste so much time hating themselves thinking negatively about and criticizing themselves. It leaves them unhappy, with low self-esteem and low confidence. So, my goal is to inspire a generation to feel better. 

If I can move the needle only slightly on how women in my city, and then my country, and then around the world, feel a little bit better, that’s my job done. Whether that’s by helping women walk into a change room, trying on a swimsuit that actually fits and makes her curves feel good. Or if it’s through my app that has practices that she can do to track her health or her movement or positivity to help her feel better. Or even when I go on Instagram and I’m somebody’s morning hype girl, if a girl watches that, and she feels a little bit better, my job is done. That is my inspiration and purpose. 

I asked women to be part of my ambassador program for my app Ana, and last night I was reading thousands of emails from women in my inbox—I had tears in my eyes. People said, “You don’t even know me, but you’ve changed my life. Now I feel confident in my body.” And “I save your videos and I replay them every day. I am so much of a happier person because of you.”  Just reading these emails, you think, “This is success. This is the magic of why I do what I do.”

As I said, it can be something as simple as a swimsuit that changes how they feel about themselves. Or it can be something as triggering as trying on a swimsuit that makes them feel terrible about themselves. I think people don’t realize that these things matter. When you walk into a store and find something that fits you, it’s so much more than just a piece of clothing. It’s someone’s self-esteem on the line.

RELATED: How Sarah Nicole Landry (@thebirdspapaya) Built A Career on Being Honest about Body Confidence

For sure. It can completely change your mood for the day or your outlook on yourself. And in just a single instance when that happens.

It affects your self-worth. Because if Joe Fresh doesn’t have clothes that fit me, what does that say about me? Why don’t they have clothes that fit me? Those are the questions girls ask themselves. Joe Fresh has done this amazing job to be inclusive on so many fronts, and the impact of it is far-reaching. It’s far greater than a girl being able to put on a swimsuit. It’s a girl not feeling terrible about herself.

It’s been a very turbulent year, from social justice movements to the fact that we’re still in a global pandemic, what was it like to put on a positive front and be that source of happiness for some people during a tough year? 

First of all, let’s be honest. My business took a hit too—on all fronts. At first, it was this feeling of, “Oh my goodness, what am I going to do?” And then I realized that women were looking to me more so than ever before: to just be happy that day, to have some different news to feel good about, to laugh, and have a moment of positivity. I thought these moments of positivity that people need should not be underestimated. So, that was the thing that kept me going and gave me a reality check, “You’ve created this community. Now it’s time to step up. There are women who rely on you and you need to lead them through this. How are you going to do that?” And I got to work. 

Every day, I got up and I showed up for myself and I showed up for all of these women. Through this pandemic, I have built a home, built an app, written a confidence theory, transformed my body, released a collection, and I did that because I showed up for myself—but I also knew that I needed to show up for these women. 

I knew that confidence was going to be at an all-time low coming out of this. That’s why the swimwear collection is so perfectly timed. It’s a little something to make women feel good this summer. It’s also the message that goes behind it, which is that you can, and you deserve to, feel good. You can be enough as you are. You in your own current body, we have clothes that will fit you. And I think that’s like a really important message coming out of this year because a lot of people are having a lot of issues with their bodies, having spent the year out of their routine and stressed with anxiety.

Roxy Earle poses in front of a pink wall wearing a snake print bikini from her Joe Fresh collection.

On that front, with all of these things that you’re doing, anyone within your community can see some behind-the-scenes work, but they don’t necessarily see all of the things you do on a day-to-day basis. What do you wish people knew about what goes on behind the scenes as someone who has a community or has influence?

I think that it takes a lot of work to show up for your community every day. It’s rain or shine. I can’t just go offline for weeks at a time—or even a morning—or else people are like, “Where are you, Roxy? What’s happened to you? Are you okay?” There have been times in my life, and throughout this year, where I have wanted to have a complete nervous breakdown. Like having a huge development team that’s working for me and I’m trying to figure out how to launch an app, or when we’re doing fittings via Zoom, or when this collection was pushed back [it was originally supposed to be launched last year]. And I have to show up every single day, and still be inspiring. 

I want people to know that when you support and put your power behind people who you believe in, it gives them that fuel to keep doing those things. Who you follow matters. If you follow Kylie Jenner, I don’t want to hear how you’re talking about how you don’t like what Kylie Jenner is doing. You’re giving her that power. There’s nothing wrong with Kylie Jenner—I follow Kylie Jenner. My point is that I’m fine to be giving her that power, but you have to be conscious about where you put your energy and who you put it behind. 

It takes a lot to go into showing up every day for your community and creating captivating, interesting, entertaining, or inspiring content. It also really puts you in a very vulnerable position. People have watched my life unfold. It’s nerve-wracking. People talk about every pound I lose or gain, every relationship new or old. And it’s scary sometimes when people know so much about your life and you have to show up for them. But I do it because I know I’m affecting women’s lives positively. I sort of see it as that’s the least I could do. If I have to be embarrassed every now and again or have a photo where I don’t like how I look, at least I know it’ll make another woman feel better. It’s going to have like much bigger effect if I do it. 

You touched on it earlier with your confidence theory. Could you build on that and where your confidence comes from?

I think the biggest misconception is thinking that it’s just something you’re born with, but it’s not. It’s something that I work at every day. My confidence is the sum of a million little things that I do each day to make myself proud of me. There’s a variety of things that I do every day to make myself this like armor of confidence, like gratitudes, morning affirmations, daily movement, and positive mirror talk, so that I totally control how I feel about myself. In doing so, I don’t really get affected by the public opinion of me. I’ve created this kind of like shield around me where I own my confidence and I’m in real control of how I feel about me.

It’s a very powerful thing because no one can then take that away from you. And I talk about it often and I try and share my lessons and techniques about confidence with my followers. It’s getting turned into a book because there are ways that you can feel this good. I’ve literally created the life of my dreams by believing in myself. I think that a woman, feeling confident and believing in herself is the thing that can change her life.

And with that confidence and believing in yourself, where do you hope to build your business and yourself in the next five to 10 years? Are you looking that far ahead?

Absolutely—I’m an entrepreneur! I’ve built a women’s health app and it’s launching in a few weeks. My goal is to use Ana as a tool to reach as many women as possible, so it’s completely free. I want to provide care, both mental health and physical health, for women who would otherwise not be able to access it. My dream is that with as many users as I can grow, I am able to start serving women anywhere in the world through health. 

The Ana app has a side of it that is all about positivity and about taking care of your mental health and it also has a side of it that is advanced diagnostics and tools for gynecological health. So if a woman is struggling with fertility or having vaginal bleeding in a village in India, she can go on Ana and get care. My goal is to build on my way of delivering the confidence theory to millions of women through healthcare to women who don’t otherwise have access to it and create an incredible community of women to spread that message. So, I’ve ultimately shifted to taking care of women as my goal. 

Of course, fashion will always be something I do. As long as I need to dress myself, I’ll be designing collections [laughs]. 

Is there anything else that we haven’t touched on that you’d like to speak about today? Yeah—the business behind all of this. I think a lot of people think these are fluffy businesses and I won’t speak about dollars because these are private deals, but we’re talking about very significant contributions to the retail market in Canada.

It is unbelievable what an influencer or a girl on Instagram can actually sell. A lot of people associate success with having a physical retail store. And unless you have a physical retail store, then you can’t possibly be a huge brand. But with brands like Joe Fresh collaborating with people like me, we’re talking about very significant impacts on the Canadian retail market. I think it’s unbelievable and no one ever talks about it. 

A grey snake print one piece swim suit from the Roxy Earle X Joe Fresh collection.The value of influencer marketing is completely overlooked in society. Like people scoff at it, but it’s huge for the economy and a real driver of sales for many, many things.

If I post in a Joe Fresh outfit, significant sales can come from it and that’s why they work with people like me. Maybe it’s the fact that all of the entrepreneurs and people who are really making money in this field are women who are always undermined, so the power that we have behind us in our businesses is also undermined. I just think that’s interesting.

People will say, “You’re just posting silly pictures of your body.” And I’m like, “Oh, these silly pictures of my body have quite a lot of influence.” Someone was saying to me the other day, “I’m a doctor, so I help women.” And I think that’s incredible. My partner is a physician, my business partner in Ana are physicians. I have the utmost respect for doctors. But I would argue that I help quite a few women around the world daily. So it’s interesting how people undermine the space despite the impact it has across a lot of professions. For anybody reading, I would start taking notes because influence happens in a lot of ways in a lot of industries and it’s not just fashion.

I think we are at a point where hopefully businesses recognize that value in influencer marketing and invest more in that in a way. I think it is very interesting how it’s mostly women [in this space] that build it up. It kind of goes back to the concept of word of mouth, women trusting other women. 

If I could name-drop the investors from Silicon Valley who have reached out to me about Ana, I think people would take it a little more seriously—not to say people don’t take me seriously now. I might be talking about lip gloss one day, but I’m about to launch a SaaS product that is perfectly primed for telehealth. 

So, let’s influence. Watch out for these women. We have a voice and we have communities—powerful communities.

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