My Big Idea: Style Tips (and Curated Garments) for the Modern Petite Woman
Are you under 5’5” and want to learn how to not look like a 12-year-old? Consider Jean Wang (Questrom’08) your new style guru
In our My Big Idea series, we bring you interviews with BU alums and other members of the University community who have launched a business, built a new product, or solved problems big and small. We ask them how they got the idea, what were their biggest stumbling blocks, and what’s next for their big idea.
Jean Wang, a style influencer-turned-fashion entrepreneur, stands “a touch under 5 feet tall,” and has made it her mission to address the style concerns of other petite women. One of their most pressing concerns: not looking like a 12-year-old. Her online brand, Extra Petite, encompasses a website, Instagram and Facebook pages, and a Youtube channel and offers style tips, how-to guides, shopping recommendations, and other petite-friendly resources (think alteration charts and DIY hacks) from someone who knows the struggle.
At first, says Wang (Questrom’08), “I was simply documenting and writing about my fashion struggles as a petite young professional entering the stodgy corporate workplace… It takes a significant amount of digging and shopping around.”
By trial and error, she found the answers to her sartorial questions, like how to hem jeans without sewing, elongate your legs by matching your tights to your shoes, and resize a belt that’s too long.
She also found her audience. What started as an unpretentious blog is now a style empire with more than a million Instagram followers and a cult-status clothing and accessory line, Edited Pieces, catering to petite women—in other words, women who measure 5’4” and under, according to most sizing guides.
“Properly fitting pieces are key [to petite style], and taking the time to get simple alterations if needed can make a dramatic difference,” Wang says. “Finding out what brands and clothing types work well for your body type specifically is also a big part of it.”
Extra Petite may have style at its heart, but the lifestyle brand also lets audiences tag along with Wang—who lives with her husband and two children in Boston—as she plans weekend outings with her family, travels around the country, and makes her favorite recipes. On Instagram, you’re just as likely to find videos of her packing her kids’ lunches as you are to see her styling outfits and making clothing recommendations (her Lunar New Year dumpling recipe is not to be missed).
Things can also get personal: Extra Petite’s more intimate posts, about conceiving a daughter through IVF and her battle with postpartum depression, are some of the site’s most popular, with hundreds of commenters sharing stories and offering support.
“Managing all the platforms is definitely a full-time job in and of itself,” Wang says.
with Jean Wang
Bostonia: Tell us about the growth of your brand.
Jean Wang: Extra Petite started as a blog around 2010, and my platform grew as new social media outlets popped up and a few companies that helped content creators turn these side projects into full-time careers. Between Extra Petite and Edited Pieces, we’re a team of six employees. Roles vary from customer service to project management to design and photography. But as a small team, everyone wears a lot of different hats.
Bostonia: What are some misconceptions about shopping for petite clothing, and how does Extra Petite help women who are struggling to nail the style basics?
Jean Wang: It may seem counterintuitive, but don’t restrict yourself to the petite department. Sometimes three-quarter length or cropped items in the regular section will fit a petite frame well. Also, it’s important to understand that “petite” is not an all-encompassing term—many customers assume it just means slim, whereas petite sizing can range from 00 to plus sizes. Petite pieces can even work for taller customers who have either a shorter torso or shorter legs.
Bostonia: What goes into the different sections of your website, and where do you pull your information from?
Jean Wang: We keep a pulse on our audience—what they are interested in and the type of content that would be informative and useful to them. Over the years, we’ve found that more casual “mirror-selfie”-style posts with outfit ideas and product reviews, as well as more personal or parenting-related content, are the most popular with our audience. Our audience also splits time between visiting our blog and Instagram [@jeanwang/LiketoKnow.it]. So, in recent years we’ve invested more time in creating Instagram reel videos on content our audience is most interested in, such as clothing- and shoe-care tips, capsule wardrobes, and how-to videos. On our LiketoKnow.it account, we organize our years of posts by collections for different brands, Abercrombie, Ann Taylor, JCrew, so it’s extremely easy for shoppers to search and use our database of posts as a reference. For example, searching “Abercrombie jeans” or “Ann Taylor blazer” or “striped sweater” within our LiketoKnow.it profile will yield several shoppable options that we’ve reviewed.
Bostonia: As an influencer, what makes you think, this would make a great post, when you’re going about your daily life?
Jean Wang: Generally, anything I’d be interested in seeing pop up in my own feed I think would make for a good post. Useful everyday content that is worthy of saving or sharing is usually a good benchmark for the posts that’ll have the most success, whether it’s something simple, like how to clean shoes, how to tuck sweaters, or easy outfit formulas for workwear.
Bostonia: Can you tell us about the relationship between your various platforms?
We try to share content across platforms, but tailor it to suit the format and the audience on each. Instagram stories tend toward more of-the-moment everyday content, like cooking, kids and family content, and time-sensitive deals, while Instagram in-feed content is more savable and shareable, with how-to style content. Liketoknow.it is purely shopping-focused and it’s where our audience knows to go if they want to find a quick and direct shoppable link to something that was shared. The blog is our original platform; we still have a robust email list of readers who get “new post” alerts for it and prefer the blog as a more traditional medium, which they can read during a lunch break or a commute.
Bostonia: When did Edited Pieces launch, and what informs your design philosophy beyond petite-friendliness?
We launched Edited Pieces at the end of 2021. The name originates from our core platform, “EP,” Extra Petite, and is a nod to our design philosophy—we’re not trying to reinvent fashion. We just make small edits to timeless styles to update them in contemporary, petite-friendly ways. Many of the designs are inspired by staple pieces I’ve been searching for over my many years of content creation and could not find in petite-friendly options. Our reversible belt is a top customer favorite because it’s so versatile. After launch, we had a 10,000-person waitlist and are currently sold out of many sizes again.
Bostonia: What’s a bit of secret advice you’d give a budding social-media entrepreneur who might not get it anywhere else?
It’s easy now to get drawn in by the monetization side of things and to think of it as a business first. But when you’re starting out, make sure you’re passionate about it since that’s what will give you the motivation to post consistently, even when there’s no income in the beginning. It’s really important to be creating content around something you care about, and then the business opportunities may follow.
Also, there are many tools out there now for helping your content reach a wider audience, no matter how small your follower base may be. For example, capitalizing on trending reels or TikTok ideas (but making it your own, based on your interests and passions) and using trending music on your posts can help very small accounts have posts that go viral.
Bostonia: What’s next for you?
We have some new products and styles in the pipeline for Edited Pieces, which are set to launch next year.
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