By Jeff Alexander

Pinup Girl Clothing’s PUG Changed My Life campaign gave CEO Laura Byrnes the unique opportunity to truly see her company’s positive impacts.

We got really powerful feedback. We originally did the contest to gain more insight to our customers. Instead, we got sincere stories from girls telling us how bad they felt with regards to how young women were portrayed. There seemed to be a lot of self-loathing,” stated Byrnes.

Byrnes launched Pinup Girl Clothing in 1999 as a creative outlet that also served women seeking quality, retro styles that did not give in to mainstream style aspirations.

I think creativity is taking existing elements and having fun with them. It’s rare to make anything without outside influence. You take things you love and make something newish. With regards to adding on previous designs, I believe in showing respect to your peers and there’s some etiquette with that,” said Byrnes.

The company earned $10 million worth of online sales alone but Byrnes was quick to state that success did not come easy.

People think this is as simple as launching a web site with cool photos and everything takes care of itself. Not the case at all. You have to push yourself harder everyday. I like to look for what wasn’t and I’m not afraid to put my neck out there!” exclaimed Byrnes.

Despite people having a seemingly clear idea of Pinup Girl styles, Byrnes believes the attitude should not be confined to simple definitions.

I hate to define it but I believe a Pinup Girl is intelligent, sexy, confident and kind. We always look out for our employees and refuse to participate in any stupid competitions against each other. We want people to be ok with their happiness and I like to nurture the creativity of the staff.”

Byrnes’ extensive career had her witness first hand the transformation of the industry. She reflected on her transition from photography to fashion.

I was accepted to F.I.T.’s photography program. It was really hard to get into. I actually got thrown out of F.I.T. because some of my teachers did not like me very much because I challenged them. I always complained about the equipment and wondered why such a school didn’t have certain things we needed. I guess I was a pain in the ass,” laughed Byrnes.

She continued, “My transition to fashion came from me being fed up with photography. It was daunting because you submit all these images to magazines and you don’t get paid for a while. It became negative and networking grew increasingly more difficult.

I became restless and at that time I was just making patterns for friends and things took off; everyone started asking for more. Our site was launched in ’99 and it grew organically.”

Today, Pinup Girl Clothing has earned accolades from customers all over the U.S. Byrnes credits the company’s success to relentless dedication from everyone involved but also believes in the growing trend of women rejecting mainstream fashion images.

I’m really lucky to be working with the people I have. I feel we’re not just marketing ourselves to one scene. We market ourselves to anyone that wants to wear clothing that flatters them. During our PUG Changed My Life campaign, we learned that a lot of girls felt they did not have the right body and I just think that’s bullshit. We love you the way you are and we’re starting to see a lot of women reject the mainstream fashion images.”

Byrnes stated that competition between peers can be helpful but believes facilitating a supportive network is vital for healthy success.

I still think the idea that people can support each other in positive ways is revolutionary. You really don’t see this kind of attitude around. We’re starting a girls club here so to speak. Believe it or not, a lot of women’s fashion is made and marketed by men. I want to help each other out; do business with more women owners and cast aside any insecurity. With our customers, when you genuinely care about making others happy that reflects on you. We’re going full-metal pin up so to speak,” laughed Byrnes.

www.pinupgirlclothing.com

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