Angelina Claes has opened everyBody's, a store on Gerrish Street that provides clothing options to women sizes 12 to 24.
“I was tired of going 40 minutes each way to get something that fit me,” said Claes May 12, the day everyBody's officially opened to the public.
The shop, which carries everything from shoes and accessories to active wear and prom dresses, offers both new and used items.
“(In stores, plus size clothing) is just pushed to the side, and we are the biggest demographic. It's a market that we aren't catering to,” said Claes.
“I know some people who don't even like to try things on. This is part of the reason I opened this – I want people to feel comfortable, to feel at home.”
She said while her original plan was to cater to just larger women, she said over time she plans to bring in some smaller sizes. She's also able to custom order items.
The prices range from $5 to $300.
“I try to keep my prices low and competitive with others,” she said, pointing to a new dress valued at $120 selling for $60.
Claes said she realizes that opening a store in a small community and having it thrive could be an uphill battle, but it's a challenge she's ready to tackle.
“It is a hard market in Windsor. I'm cautiously optimistic. My ultimate goal is I want to have my own fashion line. I want to have my own active line and dresses. This is a stepping stone, that's how I look at it,” said Claes. My 'everyBody's' name, I want it to be a brand.”
She grew up watching Fashion Television and has long been enamored with the fashion industry.
Claes took the entrepreneurial leap, investing her life's savings into the store, after experiencing much heartache.
“I was just getting by, working dead end jobs. My mom passed away from cancer. Then I went back to school to be a CCA (continuing care assistant). I loved my job,” said Claes, who worked at a local nursing home.
“Then last year, my dad, who had Parkinson's disease... passed away. And then two days later my house burnt down,” she said, teary-eyed.
It was time for a change.
“I think sometimes things happen in your life so you can try something new,” she said.
Her cats perished in the Wentworth Street fire, so Claes is hoping to partner her store with Nine Lives Cat Rescue in the future.
“I think within the Town of Windsor, we should all be working together because there is so much potential in this town and nobody is pushing it forward. We just have to think outside the box,” she said.
“I'm going to give it a shot here and see where it goes.”
The store will be open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours may be extended during the summertime.