Being tall was one of Kayla Alexander’s life gifts.
It helped her get an education, see the world, play the sport she loves for a living, and become an Olympian.
The Canadian national team star is six foot eight and has set several career records at Syracuse University and has eight WNBA seasons under his belt, but can still remember the embarrassment of going back to school and finding himself empty.
“My mom would say, low budget, ‘here’s the money you go to the mall, do what you want,” Zoom recalls in a call from Russia, where he is playing another season in the national top flight. “And I was so jealous of [my sister], Keisha.
“He would come back with all these cute clothes like, all these jeans that were cheap and trendy and I would come back with jewels and t-shirts because I couldn’t find cute and trendy clothes that fit me. So, I never liked the whole back-to-school shopping thing. “
Canadian Kayla Alexander shoots South Korean Danbi Kim during women’s basketball preliminary match at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Charlie Neibergall / AP)
Nicole Murphy is Alexander’s lifelong friend of Barrie, Ontario. It was Murphy who saw the new tall girl in sixth grade class and invited her to come out to the basketball team, inadvertently launching Alexander’s career.
Murphy grew to six foot eight and had his own challenges when it came to clothing and fashion.
“I felt the utmost frustration getting ready for the holidays or doing things with my other friends and they all wanted to go shopping to get some clothes and I’d just like to tag along, but I could never find nice and fancy things that it fits me so I would always wear it like my basic like jeans and a T-shirt, “she says.” And I don’t know if they’d make fun of me, but my friends always said to me, ‘oh Nicole, you’re always so boring.’
“Or even just being able to share clothes or shoes before going out. I could never. I just relaxed as everyone got ready. Looking back, it was frustrating. “
Alexander and Murphy’s friendship and shared fashion annoyances prompted them to take action. The couple, along with Alexander Keisha’s six-foot-long sister, have launched TallSize.com, a business they hope will alleviate some of the challenges they and their colleagues face in a retail-oriented world of those who are not likely candidates to play center for the Canadian senior women’s national team at the Tokyo Olympics, as Alexander did last summer.
It happened in two stages. Last March they started a directory of brands aimed at solving the shopping and fashion needs of tall women by doing most of the work for them.
“We found every single tall clothing brand that we could in the world and so we pretty much put a filter in, so if you say you’re in Canada and want to find jeans with a 38 inseam that ship to Canada, we basically filtered like that. once you have all this information in and you can find which stores you could potentially shop at and find those jeans to ship to you, ”says Alexander.
The response was immediate and encouraging. It seemed there was a need and visitors to the site were happy that their treasure hunt had been both simplified and made more rewarding. Alexander didn’t have to go and test their ideas, he just asked teammates past and present. A life of elite basketball played around the world told her her frustrations were widely shared.
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Murphy went beyond Alexander’s basketball club and was even more convinced they had something while interviewing potential clients.
“It was a validating experience to hear about [frustrations] we all heard, but there were a lot of things that I heard that I wasn’t personally influenced by, “Murphy said.” But there’s a lot of emotional weight attached to not being able to find clothes like a tall woman, especially when you are younger.
“You’re already taller than the kids and I mean, it’s just not normal. And then on top of that you can’t find clothes that make you feel good in your skin or confident and so I think there are a lot of body image issues associated with it … so it was super validating and I think it was just useful to point us in the right direction. “
As the directory of brands gained traction, they began to consider other opportunities and settled on an online marketplace that allowed buyers and sellers to meet in one place online.
“The next natural step for us was fine, instead of kicking [users] out to shop from all of these different top brands [we identified], how can we create something that allows them to shop from all of them in one place? ”says Murphy, who is a veteran of multiple ecommerce ventures and quit her latest job to commit full-time to TallSize last year. summer. “And that’s where the market model was born, from which we partner with several tall brands, bringing all their products in one place so that tall women don’t have to scour the internet far and wide for hours alone. to find things that maybe fits.
“We just wanted to create a space where women can know they can count on it, they can go there and know it’s been controlled, to truly be items they can shop from.”
Hopefully, the feat will provide another avenue for Alexander, 30, once his playing career is over – an addition to the children’s books he publishes with Keisha, as well as his art and speaking in. public.
But until then there is satisfaction in knowing that those embarrassing or frustrating trips to the mall no longer have to be like this, and along with her sister and older friend, they are actively doing it.
“I always had the entrepreneurial mind to try and figure out the things I could do,” he says. “The most important thing is to do things that I am passionate about. And this is something that I am passionate about, because it is something that concerns me, it allows me to be creative. It allows me to keep learning [and] … I am doing the work now so that when the time comes to put my shoes on forever, I can smoothly move on to the next stage and TallSize … will grow and this [we] can continue to do so for many years to come. “