Designer and influencer Gabi Gregg, A.K.A. Gabi Fresh
You're an entrepreneur, with three collections, on top of being an influencer—how do you balance it all?
It's tough. There's not always time for everything. Each of those things—being an influencer and a designer—is its own full-time job. I get it done with a lot of calendar management and time management. I won't lie and say there's a good balance because, really, it's a lot of crazy hours and making sacrifices.
Favorite part about what you do?
Having creative control to make, from scratch, things I wish existed for me as a customer—because I am still a consumer first. I am a plus-size woman and, unfortunately, I don't think there are many of us on the design side at these companies. So there are still a lot of old-school rules about what plus-size women want to wear—like don't wear stripes or make sure we have sleeves that come down. It's not rocket science. I'm not trying to be an Alexander McQueen-type designer. I just want to give us the same quality and trends that everyone else is getting.
Do you have a design signature?
Loud, bright, colorful—things people want to be seen in versus be invisible in.
The color orange—I'm really loving it right now. Tortoiseshell. And asymmetrical dresses with ruching, like the one I'm wearing here. The asymmetry of the hem feels really cool and fashion forward.
I'm a big fan of layering—not because I'm trying to hide anything, but I really love the juxtaposition of different textures, fabrics and colors. When it gets cooler, I love playing with proportions and mixing things up. And I love prints, obviously.
It's really personal for me—I know it when I see it. But one classic tip is to find two prints in different scales or that have a color in common.
"I look forward to the day when having a plus-size woman on the cover of a magazine isn't a headline but just normal."
I started my blog right out of college when I had no job. At the time, 11 years ago, it wasn't a career choice; it was just a passion project. I just was super frustrated with the lack of options in the fashion space for a young, plus-size woman. And because it was one of the first of its kind, it grew pretty quickly through word of mouth and eventually turned into opportunities with brands as they realized the power and influencers bloggers had.
I've always had a pretty strong self-esteem, but in terms of really getting to a place where I liked my body, that came when I discovered the body-positivity movement online. I found a body-positivity fashion forum when I was around 18, 19. There was no social media back then, so it wasn't mainstream by any means. It was this little niche of people who were touting body positivity and fat positivity. The hook for me was seeing other bodies, resembling mine, that celebrated fashion in a way I had never seen. Over time, I was able to learn about the political side as well.
Tell us more about that…
I feel really lucky that I had that foundational education through some of the leaders in the movement, like Marianne Kirby and Lesley Kinzel, because it's given me an understanding of body positivity that's not based on appearances necessarily. It's not about your size or shape; it's about pushing back on this societal expectation and culture around what beauty looks like, what it means to be thin and what it means to be fat. The issues go beyond what to wear—when you are fat, you face prejudices and uphill battles when it comes to the work place, healthcare, etc. All bodies are good bodies.
Since you launched your blog over a decade ago, so much has happened in the body-positivity space, especially with the rise of social media. But what are some issues you feel still need to be addressed?
I definitely want to give props where they're due—sizes have expanded and body positivity is mainstream. So many people know about this movement than before. But, ultimately, it still remains that, if I go to a mall, I can't find my size. I'm lucky if I have three stores that carry my size. The reality is that 68% of American women are plus-size and we still can't walk into a store and have our size.
I don't want to erase the fact that we've come a long way, but there's still a lot of progress to be made. I look forward to the day when having a plus-size woman on the cover of a magazine isn't a headline but just normal.