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For some, clothing is just clothing. For others, it’s a form of expression. For others still, it’s a community. Beautiful Disaster Clothing is a company that has truly embraced the idea of community within a brand.

They call not only their customers, but anyone who subscribes to the messages of the brand, their “tribe.” This feeling of inclusiveness and self-selection helps to power their brand and sales. In 2021, Beautiful Disaster was on track to reach $12 million in sales …

Clearly, they are doing something right.

A Tribe of Women

“Beautiful Disaster is more than a clothing brand. We are a tribe of women who support one another through all trials and triumphs of life,” says Melissa DuVarney, founder of Beautiful Disaster Clothing.

DuVarney’s brand encourages collaboration, communication, and support amongst its tribe that leads to feelings of belonging, power, and wellness. They have created a video campaign that features plus-sized and non-plus-sized women who are telling their stories while styled with Beautiful Disaster merchandise.

They are stories of hardship, trauma, triumph, and hope. They are often accompanied by hashtags such as #PerfectlyImperfect or #YouDontKnowMyStory. Women who see the videos and feel a connection can become a part of the tribe without even buying anything. Though, of course, a feeling of belonging often goes hand-in-hand with a feeling of pride. These women will often want to wear the brand they feel a part of.

Beautiful Disaster also has a Facebook group. This online community is a place where women can feel safe and connect with others like them, women who have been “to hell and back” as well. No matter what kind of day they are having, members of the Beautiful Disaster tribe can find connection and support on the brand Facebook page.

According to DuVarney, the brand is for women who may have been forgotten before, but who are now coming to reclaim their stories, their identities.

Emotionally Powerful Messages

Beautiful Disaster clothing is messaged and screen printed, and not just with any old slew of words. DuVarney and her coworkers choose powerful words that convey that “even though [our customers] have been through it all, there is still hope.”

They choose messages that help women take control of their pasts and face their futures with courage. “Wearing Beautiful Disaster is like slipping into self-acceptance.” Beautiful Disaster has a number of successful collections, all centering on an emotional message with which women can relate:

  • “Perfectly Imperfect”
  • “A Queen Turns Her Pain Into Power”
  • “The Fire Inside Me Burns Brighter Than the Fire Around Me” 
  • “Though the Weight of My Past Is Heavy, the Beauty Still Rises”

These words are printed in hardcore fonts on the clothing, along with designs of skeletons, angels, flowers, or hearts. Tribe members can choose clothing with a message that resonates with them.

One-on-One Interactions with the Tribe

Collecting data can be made personal. “We are obsessed with one-on-one interactions with our tribe!” says DuVarney. Her company is focusing more on first party data: information collected directly from site visitors and customers.

Beautiful Disaster has also been using more multimedia messaging (MMS) and short message service (SMS, better known as texting) to communicate with their customers.

This way they can send more targeted messages as well as be sure their message is actually reaching the customer. They are focused on community-building and brand messaging and are building their marketing strategies to do so.

Personal, Despite 100% Online

Since 2019, Beautiful Disaster Clothing has been 100% online. That doesn’t mean they never put in the grunt work, though. For years they were on the road, selling at road shows, local events, and festivals.

They even had a boutique in Ventura, California before it was unfortunately burnt down in an arson fire. True to their brand of resilience and strength, they simply moved to a warehouse and continued business from there.

For those customers who are used to having an in-person store, Beautiful Disaster allows customers to come to the warehouse for on-site pickup. They also have monthly warehouse sales where locals can come shop and connect with the employees responsible for the clothing.

For everyone else, Beautiful Disaster has an easy-to-use website. Once you become a customer and enter your email, they conscientiously avoid spamming you. “Connectivity of the tribe comes first,” says DuVarney.

To this end, Beautiful Disaster sends out one to two emails per month highlighting the story of a tribe member, empowering and inspiring their customers. They also send out emails when they launch a new product, when there’s a sale, or when it’s that tribe member’s birthday. This way customers can feel connected and cared for by the brand, without being overwhelmed by emails.

Personal Order Fulfillment

The Beautiful Disaster team doesn’t outsource its order fulfillment. They have a team of 5 “warehouse bunnies” who fulfill the 300-500 orders a day with care and attention.

Each package is wrapped in tissue paper, a note slipped inside, and sealed with a sticker. The packaging has become a part of the brand. It’s just another way their customers can feel included in something greater than themselves.

Beautiful Disaster Clothing’s success was not born overnight. It took 13 years to get where it is now, selling around 400K worth of clothing each month, and it wasn’t just the perseverance that did it: It was the community-building.

Creating a brand that invites women with complicated pasts into the tribe has given its members connection, representation, hope–and something to wear.

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