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Meet Alicia Lagano and Jessa Hollowell of Every Body

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alicia Lagano and Jessa Hollowell.

Alicia and Jessa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Alicia- Things happen for a reason, don’t you think? I happen to be one of those people that believe in signs and Universal energy. It is just all in how you embrace it. The Every Body journey started a few years back at a small breakfast cafe in Sherman Oaks. What was supposed to be just a part time serving job to help pay bills ended up being the beginning of a new life path, a sisterhood, and an amazing business partnership.

Our story began with Jessa and I working together and developing a friendship. We live down the street from one another and would often carpool together where we would share about our personal lives, as most friends do. I remember this one particular day going to work together when I shared with Jessa that my then stepdaughter had just come out to my husband and me that he, Aaron, is transgender.

All of our lives changed overnight. Although there were many obstacles that came along with this change, I suddenly felt like our lives had much more meaning. My husband and I were responsible for helping this child come into his own and love himself for who he is. It was a scary but beautiful learning experience.

There are many challenges trans kids face, one of them being the fit of clothing. This may sound small to some people but to a trans kid not so much. Body dysphoria is very common, and the fit of clothing plays a big role.

Jessa- Aaron coming out has forever changed my life. I’m Jessa, the friend, confidant and pseudo aunt who enjoys making clothes. I needed to find my voice as a clothing designer but just making cute outfits wasn’t enough for me. Then something happened.

One particular day running around at work, Alicia mentioned that her husband and Aaron wanted to create a shop for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming teens because it did not exist. The cartoons are real because an actual light bulb went off in my head. Timing is everything. Just seven days before I took a crash course learning how to start my own clothing line.

The massive amount of information did not resonate with me at that time because my heart was not entirely in my designs. I immediately knew that this path was meant for me. I proclaimed “I KNOW EVERYTHING.” We look back at that moment now and laugh thinking that we thought we knew it all but that raw passion is what drives us.

Between serving coffee and eggs benedicts… BAM Every Body was born!! There was no looking back. We were a freight train full steam ahead.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The day Every Body was born our lives shifted. We knew we had a great idea that was desperately needed at a time when the social climate was changing. What we did not know was how to start a business that has never been done before now. Our passion and connection to Aaron is what motived us to push through our challenges.

The line “We’ll figure it out” became a part of our daily vocabulary. Being Cis women, we became reliant on Aaron for guidance. Applying Aaron’s advice our social media started to grow rapidly. Our online presence has not only given us a vast amount of knowledge as to what these kids need, it has also rewarded us with wonderful friends and connections.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Every Body story. Tell us more about the business.
We plan to locate Every Body in West Hollywood. Every Body will be a one-stop shop providing necessary accessories and specifically tailored clothing to fit the unique body types of transgender-gender nonconforming teens. Our style is inclusive, youthful and specifically designed to evoke self-expression. Our store will provide convenient in-house tailoring to help ensure special individual needs. We aim to establish our company as a pioneer in this cisgender-obsessed industry.

Shopping seems simple, right? Wrong. Close your eyes and picture yourself going into a store where nothing is designed to fit your body type. The clothing is too big, too small, too long, too short and uncomfortable. You have no help, no options, and no way to express yourself.

Now imagine you’re transgender-gender nonconforming. People who are TGNC, specifically teens, struggle with the fit of clothing. They have no place to shop to find clothes that genuinely fit them. This is a problem. Through our love for these kids, we will provide a place where the clothing is inclusive, youthful, and designed to evoke self-expression.

The difference in what we are designing for TGNC (Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming) teens in comparison to Cisgender teens will be the fit of our clothing in an inclusive environment. We design our clothing with all body types and individual identities in mind. Typically, transitioning FTM (female to male) teens have wider hips, more narrow shoulders, shorter arms, and legs and they bind their chests.

Transitioning MTF (male to female) teens have broader shoulders and a more narrow lower body, as well as longer arms and legs. Non-binary individuals face similar challenges. These teens have a hard time fitting in clothes at the stores available to them. Not only do the clothing options not fit correctly but many of these awesome kids are scared to go shopping because of the treatment they receive.

They often experience poor service, dirty looks and not being allowed to use their chosen dressing room. They often leave because they are never acknowledged and receive no assistance. We are working hard to make clothing more inclusive and to help create a positive shopping experience.

Every Body = A safe, comfortable space for TGNC teens to shop freely.
Every Body = A specialized size chart and in-house tailoring that will cater to individual needs.
Every Body = A one-stop shop that will provide necessary accessories and specifically tailored clothing to fit their unique body types.

To launch successfully, we need financial backing. All funds will go towards helping us build Every Body from the ground up which includes: materials, proper equipment, rental space, clothing production, and a carefully hand-picked team that shares our vision.

“Our mission is to inspire change for an equal future.”

-TGNC. Transgender and Gender Nonconforming (gender identity)

-Trans-gen-der /transˈjendər/: of, relating to or being a person whose gender identity is opposite the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.

-Gender-non-conforming denoting or relating to a person whose behavior or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to their gender.

-Non-Binary – a category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine – identities which are outside the gender binary and cisnormativity.

-Cis-gender /sisˈjendər/: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds to their birth sex.

– LGBTQ – is a loosely defined grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, LGBT organizations, and subcultures, united by a common culture and social movements. These communities generally celebrate pride, diversity, individuality, and sexuality.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
We are both so lucky Aaron has brought us along on his journey. Stay tuned!

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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