Emma Zack: Making Women Feel Vibrant, Sweet and Desirable at any Size and Shape
Emma Zack is the founder of Berriez, a curated online vintage shop that celebrates curves, colors and fruit. Although they launched in Brooklyn in 2018, the seed was planted when Emma was just a teenager, frustrated by the challenge of finding fun and stylish clothes that fit her curvy body. Emma turned to secondhand shopping as a way to find what made her feel good in her skin. Berriez brings the fruits of Emma's satorial eye to others. Accessibility and representation are the core of the company. Like fruit, Emma wants every Berriez' customer to remember that they're uniquely vibrant, sweet and desirable at any size and shape.
Here is an excerpt from our interview with Emma.
Passionistas: What's the one thing you're most passionate about?
Emma: Well, if you had asked me that just a few years ago, my answer would not be what it is today. But, today, it would be making fashion accessible to everyone.
Passionistas: So how does that translate into what you do?
Emma: I source vintage clothing over a size medium and which surprisingly not many other vintage shops do in the vintage world. The fashion industry in general primarily caters toward straight sized people, which is sizes 00 to 6-8. So I source plus size vintage, which is actually pretty difficult to find.
But I try my hardest to find it. Lately I've been working with independent designers on expanding their size ranges, so I can also sell small sustainable brands in sizes XL to 5X. I understand there's people who are 00 out there, but what I don't understand why it is that you can more readily find a size 00, then you find of size XL when over 60 or 70% of the population is over a size XL. So something really isn't adding up. So I've been trying to confront that. Passionistas: When did this first become something that you were aware of and something that evolved into this passion for you? Emma: It became something I was aware of since I was like 10 years old if we’re really going back. Because as I was a kid, I was also considered “plus size.” I always tell the story of shopping for my Bat Mitzvah dress. And I was13, I was plus-sized, but I wasn't above a size 12 women's 12. And I, for the life of me, could not find a dress. I couldn't find anything in the teenager section. My mom and I went to all these stores. I remember sobbing in the dressing room. And that's when fashion let me down. And I was like I just can't find anything in my size. And then it wasn't until a few years ago that I was so fed up with it, that I was like, you know what? I'm sick of this. I love fashion. And I'm sick of never finding anything in my size. It's just absurd. Passionistas: So besides wanting people to have pretty clothes, is there like an emotional mission that you have with the company? Emma: Of course. I mean, I think it's so much more than pretty clothes. It's about being able to go somewhere and not feeling defeated and like someone doesn't care about you because… even two weeks ago, I went and visited my mom. My mom was a size eight. I would say we went to the mall for the first time in about two years. And we literally couldn't go into any stores because nothing, there was not a store in the mall that had anything of my size. And that's so disheartening and frustrating. I don't want other people to feel excluded. It's just not a good feeling. And I grew up with it and have felt it over and over and over and over again that I want people to come in and be like, oh my God, wait. Stuff fits me. And, oh my gosh, I feel good about myself because feeling good about yourself is what's gonna help you. Do you know, your day-to-day tasks, whether that be working criminal justice or, you know, working at a bakery or whatever you're doing. I think clothes are so much more than just. How they look and I've really been getting in touch with that, especially during quarantine. Passionistas: What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to follow her passions like you have? Emma: I would say to take the risk, but I didn't take that risk until I had fully thought everything through. And organize everything. So I think that was really important. And that was because of my parents. They were like, you want to quit your job, quit your job. How are you going to live? But, it's a huge risk, but you're not going to find out if it works until you do it right. And if it doesn't work, then this is a whole long life ahead of you. So take the risk. Check out Emma’s Curated for Curves store visit ShopBerriez.com. Listen to Emma’s full interview here.