How Ciera Rogers of Babes & Felines Transforms the Online Fashion Boutique
PHOTO CREDIT: Kristina Dixon | 11:ONE VISUALS
Who says Instagram eye candy models don’t have what it takes to be truly successful? With over 2 million Instagram followers focused on her striking hourglass figure, Ciera Rogers is a force to be reckoned with. The CEO and Founder of one of the leading online boutiques, BabesandFelines.com, is on a mission to educate and empower her audience on the value of body acceptance and self-love. “The biggest misconception is that [Babes and Felines] is only for curvy girls,” Rogers explains. “We embrace all sizes but because curvy girls were shut out for a long time, I catered to them.” Ranging from small/medium through plus, she is serious about bringing new sizing options to the table.
Originally from Houston, after graduating from college Rogers was confronted with the reality of the bleak job market stemming from 2008’s financial crisis. Because entry-level jobs were nearly nonexistent, Rogers looked to her family for guidance. “My mom had a vintage store growing up so I was always in the store,” she shares. By 2012 she decided to follow her sister to Los Angeles and try her luck there. “When I moved, [vintage reselling] was my only means to make money. I was able to grow my business from my social media following and things took off from there.” Within a year she graduated to selling wholesale apparel where “Babes and Felines” was born.
With an emphasis on neutral basics for the everyday girl, this entrepreneur focuses on maintaining an inventory of quality items using premium fabrics and materials. “We’ve been selling the same staple pieces since day one. Our customer knows what to expect with us.” In addition, she hires every day girls to serve as models and shies away from heavily editing the images that eventually make it onto her site. “The market has changed-there’s a lot of competition, so the fact that we’re able to stay in it is an accomplishment to me,” Rogers says.
While Rogers originally handpicked her inventory from wholesalers, it wasn’t long before she began designing and creating her own apparel created with her Babes in mind. When asked about the #1 product she’s designed that the site offers, “It’s the tummy control legging!” She continued, “It’s a basic legging that has a girdle affect in the waist and that’s it. I’ve been selling it for over six years now.”
From inception to finished piece, Rogers’ timeline to complete a new design is about six months. While grateful she can offer unique sizing for her customers, it doesn’t come without its share of setbacks. “I just came out with a luxury legging and a month later I started seeing it on a bunch of boutiques,” Rogers recounts. “I have to design it, receive samples, get the fabric, test it out, and then put it in production. By the time I get it and post it, people in China and wholesale sites have it copied within weeks.”
With a staff of just four and an office space not far from her home, it is a rare moment when you find Rogers not working. While self-care is important, she admits she hasn’t been the best at prioritizing time away from the office. “I like to work,” she plainly states. “I don’t have much of a social life and feel weird being away from my office.” The entrepreneur understands the importance of time away and is taking small steps, where she can, to prioritize self-care. “Downtime is when I get the best ideas for work.” Scheduling more days off, going to the spa, watching a movie, or going out to lunch with her sister are slowly becoming a part of her routine. “I have to force myself to leave my laptop at home.”
When it comes to mental health in the age of social media, the social media maven has chosen to take a step back from her millions of followers in the last few months. “I just turned my notifications off,” she says. “When you post a picture, they start arguing in the comments and start critiquing me and each other. People can be really mean on social media sometimes.”
Forever an innovator at heart, Rogers is careful not to let it dim her shine. She has already mapped out her next apparel venture. “I’m starting a [medical] scrubs company,” she reveals. “I can’t wait, because the scrubs out now are ugly!” Planned for a Spring 2020 release, Rogers has designed her regulation scrubs with the curvy girl body shape in mind. “When nurses are bending over, it’s restrictive fabric so I’m trying to find something with a little more stretch and more pockets,” she explains. “No one else in the industry is doing it now.”
Gearing up for summer 2020 Rogers is also getting ready to tap into swim. By offering one-piece swimsuits with alternative sizing on the upper and lower sections, she hopes to accommodate the overwhelming number of women who are not the standard single-size top and bottom. “I’m so excited!” she gushes as she explains her unique sizing model.
Looking ahead to the future, Rogers wants to continue to build Babes and Felines into a brand that all women can look to when they want to feel accepted and celebrated. An entrepreneur, online retailer, designer, and social media guru, Ciera Rogers is one Angeleno who is making this city more inclusive, one tummy control legging at a time.