Story behind beautiful disaster clothing

Story behind beautiful disaster clothing DEFAULT

Yan Daixiang squinted through dense, freezing fog as she struggled to make out her surroundings. Runners were scattered everywhere—off the trail, in ravines, on the other side of the mountain—dotting the hillside in brightly colored athletic gear. It was hard to tell loose clothing and people apart. People trudged in every direction, struggling against freezing wind and rain. Others huddled around bushes or boulders.

Some runners passed Yan, heading back down the mountain. They’d tried to reach the race’s third checkpoint at mile 17, but failed. They were retreating now, back to the second checkpoint, to drop out.

“It’s way too cold on the top at the third checkpoint,” one cautioned Yan.

The temperature had been dropping consistently since the rain had started. It would get colder the higher she climbed. Yan was still going up.

Most of the runners were wearing shorts and T-shirts. Racers had been encouraged to stow their warm clothes in a drop bag, which they could pick up at mile 39, at the 6th checkpoint. But few had expected they would need extra layers: the Yellow River Stone Forest 100K took place in a desert, and in previous years runners had battled heatstroke, not hypothermia. The bags, if they had anything warm in them, were nearly 20 miles away.

Yan was lucky; she had brought warmer clothes with her. She donned long pants and a jacket, and decided to keep moving.

There was a mile left to climb before the next checkpoint. Around her, more dots of neon color covered the mountainside—crawling, lying on the ground, standing but barely moving. Yan approached an elderly man whose eye was bleeding. He insisted he was fine.

Yan was ascending the race’s most dangerous section: a 2,900-foot climb, which would bring her up to 7,300 feet. The trail led up a mountainside past steep cliffs; the rock and sand of the path had grown slippery now, pounded by wind and rain. There was little vegetation beyond desert scrub to find shelter in. Looking ahead, Yan couldn’t find the trail—the wind had blown the markers away, and fog had shrouded the route. To find her way, she followed a vague pattern among the dispersed runners, like a trend line through a scatter plot.

The path was growing steeper now. Yan bumped into at least three more people, all in shorts. She called out, but her shouts traveled nowhere. She was walking now. The temperature, Yan guessed, was no more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Save her chin and forehead, she had covered her entire body. Still, she felt freezing.

The third checkpoint seemed unreachable, and the second was even farther behind her. Terror and dread began rushing in. Yan was pinned.

Staff, Unsplash (texture)

Yan, 43, had arrived in China’s Jingtai county a day before the race, on May 21st, to sunshine and blue skies. She was excited; she had traveled from her home in the southwestern city Chengdu, a 10-hour drive away, and this was her first time visiting the Gansu Province’s deserts. The landscape was beautiful in a stark, wild way—sheer cliffs rose like sails above the desert floor—and the race, the Yellow River Stone Forest 100K, would be her longest course since China had lifted its coronavirus lockdown.

She’d been running for four years now, starting in 2017, a few years after developing pneumonia. When she returned to work as a nurse at one of China’s largest hospitals after her illness, she found herself weak, freezing, and prone to exhaustion during her shifts.

Running helped her get stronger. She’d begun slowly around Chengdu, but eventually 10Ks and half marathons came easy. Soon, Yan was racing all over China. Between 2017 and 2019, Yan estimated she’d run one 100K ultramarathon each year, three 60K ultras, four marathons, and dozens of halfs. Running also made her a better nurse. She stopped tiring over shifts, and her medical training came in handy during races. Yan monitored herself closely while running, and she often worked as a medical volunteer at competitions.

When lockdown ended in China, in April 2020, Yan returned to running. By the fall, races were being held again, and Yan set off for marathons around the country. A friend recommended the Yellow River Stone Forest 100K, just off the Tibetan Plateau near the Gobi Desert.

Courtesy Yan Daixiang

The region where the race was held consisted of vast expanses of high desert, filled with rocky sections of mountains and dry washes. Heading into its fourth year, the race climbed rugged hills and mountains above China’s Yellow River, named for its brownish, earthen color. Yan had never seen the Yellow River in such a stark landscape, and the novelty was exciting.

On WeChat, at 8:12 p.m. on the night before the race, Yan posted eight photos—seven of the desert landscape and one of her race supplies. “Conquer the Yellow River, chase the Stone Forest throne,” she wrote. “My goal is to finish the race safely!”

The morning of the race, Yan woke at 6 a.m. to blue skies. Temperatures were in the mid-50s. She threw on long pants, gloves, and arm warmers, and then packed her bag with fuel—electrolyte tablets, energy gels, Snickers bars, and a liter of water. By 7 a.m., the sun was still shining, and wisps of stratus clouds hung in the sky. Temperatures were hovering just under 60 degrees. For sun protection, she wore a bandana around her neck and a sun hat, its large brim and side flaps protecting her cheeks.

On the shuttle bus to the starting line, at about 5,000 feet, Yan snapped more photos of the desert. The sky was still clear. But by the time Yan arrived in the park, wind gusts had grown strong enough to blow over signs and race flags. She lined up for the start, alongside 171 other runners.

The mayor of Baiyin, the nearest town to the start, shot off the starting pistol at 9 a.m. The course began down a stone road, and then bent around a 90-degree turn into a valley. There, runners were hit with an enormous gust of wind. Hats and sunglasses flew everywhere. Yan’s visor flew off, and her hat’s flaps whipped around violently. She chased down her shades and hat and adjusted, and then kept going.

At the front of the race, Zhang Xiaotao grinned as he hit the turn. He liked cooler weather for running. With his cap grasped tight in his right hand, he charged ahead, following the race leaders. One of China’s best ultrarunners, Zhang was competing that day against some other stars in the country’s racing scene—most notably Liang Jing, who had won the 400K Ultra Gobi desert race in 2018 and held the Chinese national 24-hour record.

“When we started at 9 a.m., there were still really big winds, and a lot of people’s hats were blown off,” Zhang later wrote about the race. “But the first 20K were still okay—the situation was relatively normal.”

Zhang had grown up farming in central China’s Henan Province, where he was raised herding goats and harvesting corn by hand. Dashing up and down low, rolling hills of farmland had prepared him well for distance running. By 2014, he was competing in at least 20 marathons a year, bagging top-10 finishes, and sending most of the money he won back to his family. In April, two days after the registration was opened, he signed up for the Yellow River Stone Forest 100K. He was excited. Among China’s landscapes, the dry, open desert of northwest China was his favorite.

In April, to prepare for what he expected to be scalding desert temperatures, he ran during early afternoons, for up to two hours, until he felt hints of heatstroke. By the time the race rolled around, he felt prepared for heat, and he was hoping to finish with prize money. The night before the race, as wind banged at his hotel room windows, he thought little of it. At the race briefing a few hours earlier, the organizing committee had cautioned racers of nothing more than heatstroke and sunburns.

STR/CNS/AFP via Getty Images

“Storms and chills were the last thing to ever come across my mind,” Zhang says.

Zhang passed through the second checkpoint, 15 miles in, well ahead of Yan. A few miles behind him, even before the climb, she was beginning to feel the storm’s power. Gusts of wind whipped dirt into her mouth. Hard rain began falling. She slowed down. She stopped to rest for a moment at the second checkpoint. She’d heard that the next checkpoint wouldn’t have any food—just two volunteers punching race cards. Yan decided to fuel up, eating cherry tomatoes, water, and bread. Ahead of her lay the third checkpoint, five miles up the 2,900-foot climb, the race’s most challenging ascent.

The rain was drenching now, and far below her, the river was raging a deep brown yellow. Along its banks, the loess soil was loose and thick. Yan took out her jacket. Her other layers were soaked through, and sand and gravel had filled her shoes. More runners passed. At least half were now ahead of her, starting the climb. Ten minutes later, around 12:00, she set out, head down against the gale.

Meanwhile, the lead runners were barely moving. Wind and freezing rain were pummeling them, slowing their progress to a shuffle. About halfway up to CP3, hail began to mix with the raindrops, slamming into Zhang, numbing his face and blurring his vision.

Zhang had just come across two racers in trouble. One was shaking and trembling, apparently on the verge of hypothermia. Zhang tried helping him forward, wrapping his arms around the runner and walking together. But the trail was too slippery and not wide enough for two people hanging on to each other side-by-side. The wind gusted so hard that they kept falling. Eventually they decided to separate.

Gazing up the mountains ahead of him, Zhang tried to scramble up. Keep your head, get over the mountain, and everything will be fine, he thought to himself.

He didn’t make it far. Wrestling the wind, Zhang fell at least 10 more times. With the two runners he’d tried to help behind him, Zhang was sitting in fourth place—higher and farther into the course than almost anyone. His felt his limbs growing stiff, and hypothermia began settling in as the fog thickened. Soon, he lost control of his body. He fell once more and couldn’t get up. In his last moments of consciousness, he managed to pull out a space blanket and wrap it around his body, and send out an SOS signal on his GPS.

On May 20th, two days before the race, an enormous cold front had pushed down from Siberia to the west of Gansu, where temperatures plummeted close to freezing. The polar vortex was moving southeast, and weather stations in the area began alerting the public. On May 21st, the night before the race—when the race briefing was held—the county’s Meteorological Administration issued a warning that sustained winds between 27 and 32 mph were possible over the next 24 hours, along with large temperature drops possible across the province.

Xinhua News AgencyGetty Images

That afternoon, however, temperatures in Jingtai county, where the race was being held, reached almost 80 degrees.

By the race’s start, the edge of the cold front was just starting to descend on the course—perfectly timed to meet runners head-on as they climbed to CP3. Heat and pressure differentials across the front’s edge were causing strong winds, and by 8 a.m., gusts were reaching 25 mph. Temperatures began dropping steadily. But these changes had only just begun at higher elevations; their extremes hadn’t yet moved down into the lower parts of the Yellow River Valley, where the race began.

By 10:30 a.m., an hour and a half after the race started, thick clouds had begun forming as warm, high-pressure air from the desert floor rushed into the sky and cold, low-pressure air from the vortex plummeted down the mountainsides.

The winds and rain grew strongest between CP2 and CP3, as runners climbed higher, into the descending cold front. At this point, as the lead runners were climbing to CP3, temperatures were dropping as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit per hour. In Jingtai county’s lower elevations— 5,200 feet, about the elevation of Denver—temperatures reached about 44 degrees. But at the race’s higher altitudes, during the climb to CP3, which reached 7,200 feet, temperatures approached freezing. As warm and cold air rushed across the most dramatic pressure and temperature gradients, winds likely reached between 40 and 55 mph. The resulting wind chill made the air temperature at higher elevations feel more like the mid-teens. Together, the temperature, wind, and rain were enough to cause hypothermia, with most runners wearing little more than shorts and a T-shirt.

It is not clear whether race organizers followed the polar vortex, or were aware of the alert, and most forecasts didn’t reflect the severity of the front headed toward Jingtai county. The night before the race, Yan had seen forecasts predicting colder-than-usual temperatures, but nothing especially alarming: in the morning, a light drizzle and wind around 12 to 18 mph, with temperatures ranging from the low 40s to high 60s.

Colder temperatures had never impacted the competition, and most athletes ignored the late change to the forecast, if they even saw it. Yan was one of only a few runners to pack warmer clothes. Most had opted to leave their extra layers at home.

STR/AFP viaGetty Images

Yan’s cheeks were becoming numb. She was ascending to the third checkpoint and rain lashed the trail, buffeted by gusts of wind. The rock trail was slick as ice, and led perilously close to sheer cliff edges. Visibility was only 15 feet, rendering trail markings invisible, and signs of people had mostly vanished. So when Yan bumped into a runner nicknamed Ke Le, they teamed up, and decided to try to head down the mountain.

“We were just circling ourselves without any sense of direction,” Yan says. Whenever they paused, she could feel her heart racing. Her breathing increased. She started to lose feeling in her feet and hands. She was certain that she was about to freeze to death.

As Yan and Ke Le were trying to descend, they spotted a cave dwelling. The discovery was a deep relief. Among many groups stranded between the second and third checkpoints, there had been rumors circling of caves near CP3.

A shepherd from a nearby village, Zhu Keming, was standing in front of its entrance, beckoning them inside. He was already sheltering another runner, wrapped in blankets and lying on a kang, a bed made of packed earth.

Trembling, Yan sat on the kang and took off her socks and shoes. They were soaked through. “I was like, I’m almost done. I was just too cold,” says Yan. She tucked her feet under the first runner’s hips for warmth and wrapped a dusty space blanket around herself. She asked Zhu to call for help—he already had, and none had arrived. She was sitting close to the other two on the kang, but still trembling.

“I am not gonna make it,” Yan told Zhu. “Is there any chance you can set up a fire?”

Zhu ventured out. About 20 minutes later, he returned with kindling and started a fire next to the kang in the cave. Yan threw her wet clothes close to the flames. Slowly, she began to recover.

Two more runners showed up at around 2:30 p.m., 45 minutes after Yan had reached the cave, and reported that athletes were lying on the ground all over the course. “Almost all of the runners are either in hiding or dropped out,” one of them told Yan. They’d checked some for pulses, often without finding any. Another runner they passed was cramping on the ground, but they couldn’t carry him over.

Zhu went out to look for him. At around 3 p.m., he came back and reported that he’d found the cramping runner, as well as three others who appeared to be dead. The survivor was mumbling, “I’m in fourth place.”

It was Zhang Xiaotao. By then, he’d been lying on the ground for more than two hours. His distress signal had gone unanswered by rescuers.

Zhang could barely move, and Zhu called Ke Le to help carry him inside. To keep the smoke away, they placed him just inside the entrance. Zhang was still dizzy, fixated on the competition.

“I’m in fourth place,” he repeated. “I fell seven or eight times. I want to race.”

With the others’ help, Yan removed Zhang’s wet clothes and placed them near the fire.

She ordered others not to put his hands and feet too close to the flames, or massage his limbs. Yan worried cold blood might circulate to his heart and kill him. She pulled out water, an unopened Snickers bar, and some energy gels. Slowly, Zhang began eating. He couldn’t extend his left hand’s fingers, which were going numb, but he insisted on rejoining the race.

“Mentally, I was still just carrying on in the race,” Zhang recalls of recovering in the cave. Eventually, though, runners calmed him down, and convinced him to drop out. “Then I realized it was a matter of life or death. I was so muddled.”

At around 5 p.m., local villagers arrived at the cave with quilts, thermos bottles, and paper cups, but Yan sent them back outside, to search for runners on the hillsides. A half hour later, the group wrapped towels from the villagers around themselves, and decided to head down the mountain before nightfall. The storm had died down. Thick clouds remained, but it felt much warmer now, and descending wouldn’t be so dangerous. Zhu, the shepherd, led them down a shortcut off the hillsides, following a goat trail.

The trek downhill took over an hour. Along the way, they saw villagers carrying more quilts and hot water uphill. A group of doctors and nurses passed with first-aid kits. A bulldozer followed, clearing a route to deliver medical supplies up the mountain, with all-wheel-drive vehicles behind it.

Yan arrived back at her hotel after 8 p.m. and went to dinner with other runners who had made it back. The meal was somber, filled with speculation about who had survived. Liang Jing, the top ultrarunner, hadn’t been found yet. Others were missing as well.

By the next morning, 18 were confirmed dead. Three were missing. Headlines were spreading worldwide.

Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Of the 172 runners who set off in the race, 21 died and eight were seriously injured. Most if not all the deaths were from hypothermia. In the lead group of six, only Zhang had survived. Liang Jing’s death was especially unnerving. He was no stranger to extreme races—his win at the Ultra Gobi 400K took place in another corner of the Gansu Desert with extreme temperature fluctuations.

In the postmortem, the race was deconstructed
endlessly. Was the weather a freak event? Should the organizers have been more cautious and prepared? Whose fault was this? That the organizers hadn’t followed the cold front—or had at least dismissed it—was negligent at best. Still, many pointed out there were contingencies in place. Runners were required to have GPS—as well as other bells and whistles one could expect an ultra race to require—and a way to send distress signals. But many of the runners, Zhang and Zhu included, had called for help and never received it. The distress signals had reached rescue teams, but by the time the rescuers arrived, it was too late to save many of the athletes.

Discretion and weather awareness—skills that come with experience—were perhaps in shortest supply. Many wondered why the race committee hadn’t held racers at the second checkpoint. By then, the weather had already turned bad.

The Chinese government’s response to the tragedy lacked nuance. Almost immediately, the government banned ultra races, as well as other “high risk” outdoor adventure sports, the range of which was left vague. The Chinese Communist Party’s disciplinary organ—which, among other things, punishes and investigates officials for corruption—was tasked with looking into the disaster. In the weeks following the race, Jingtai county’s party secretary, Li Zuobi, committed suicide by jumping off a building. He appears to have known what was coming; soon after, a harsh judgment came down from the government’s Party provincial committee, naming almost everyone connected to the race—organizers, sponsors, or others connected to them—as potentially liable.

Around China, race organizers were chilled. So far, 27 officials have been punished or charged, with sentences not yet rendered, while the magistrate of Jingtai County was fired. Other organizers are watching closely, some leaving the industry altogether.

Months later, the runners are still working through trauma and injuries from the storm. Zhang’s left index finger is still numb from nerve damage, preventing him from helping his family with their harvest. He prefers not to talk much about the race’s psychological aftermath. After he published an account of the competition, commenters began harassing him on social media, and Zhang suspended his account. Since then, he’s mostly shut the world out, taking time to heal.

For Yan, the experience has haunted her dreams for months. She has had trouble sleeping—flashbacks to the race woke her up almost every night in the first weeks afterward—but has kept in touch with Zhang and other survivors, for mental support, as well as Zhu Keming, the shepherd. Recently, she’s been mailing him specialty snacks from Chengdu. One day, she hopes, the cave-dwelling crew would reunite at the site of the race to thank Zhu in person.

After the race, Yan and Zhang both took a break from running. Eventually though, they returned. About a month after the tragedy, on a cloudy, cool morning with a gentle breeze, Yan set out on an eight-mile jog in a wetland reserve. The break from exercise made her pace slower than usual, but speed was the last thing on her mind. The reserve was her favorite place to run in Chengdu, and soon the happiness the sport brought her came flooding back. And partly, she explained, she was running for the spirits of the deceased.

“They are no longer running in this world. So no matter what, I’ll keep running, for them and for myself,” Yan says. “I’d dwelled on little details in the past. But eventually, you feel that just being alive is good. Really good.”

Back in his hometown, in Henan, Zhang had taken even less time off. Just 10 days after returning from Gansu, with the blessing of his doctor, he put his running shoes back on. On a bright, 85-degree evening, he donned a white, long-sleeve hoodie, and set out running through the countryside. Three miles later, his life was feeling intact again.

“I’ll carry on, keep running, love everyone beside me, and shoulder their unrealized dreams,” Zhang says. “Ahead, there’s a long, long way
to run.”


story behind beautiful disaster clothing

; { )I once saw a shirt at a seconds store that read "Herpies Shmerpies"--I still wish I'd got it, but I'd figured my dating game would take a serious hit.I guess a lot of these were designed and produced in non-English speaking countries.

Why didn’t you just roll in dog shit to make your outfit complete?”We pulled into the parking lot of Shepley’s apartment complex, and I followed America to the stairs. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. Sleep with him?” America shrugged. The story behind the infamous Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield photo, 1957. Maybe you slipped and fell in front of everyone or accidentally stepped in dog poop, and while these funny fails are horribly awkward, sometimes all it takes is putting on The following list is a series of ugly outfit moments that are beyond cringe-worthy.

The stairs were crumbling, the rowdy patrons were shoulder to shoulder, and the air was a medley of sweat, blood and mold. “So what’s your story, Pidge? If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Jesus, Abby, since when did you start fishing in the deep end?” Finch said with disapproving eyes.“What do you suggest I do? No touching the fighters, no assistance, no bet switching, and no encroachment of the ring.

Some of them were at the fight, but no one mentioned my ring-­‐side experience.I tried to ignore him for as long as possible, but when I looked up, Travis was staring at me.Travis smiled at me in what I assumed was his most charming expression.

They'll buy anything.It's even worse, since plastic can act as a magnifying glass and cause severe burnsI can't decide what is the biggest fail, the design of the bag or the woman who bought it... :/And he/she is also the sheriff?!? It's called "Goodwill", "The Salvation Army Store" or your local flea market. You’re going over there tonight, right?”Four hours later, America knocked on my door to take me to Shepley and Travis’. She didn’t hold back when I walked into the hall.America rolled down her window and spit out her gum. Betting ends once the opponents are on the floor.

You can read more about it and change your preferences Get the latest inspiring stories via our awesome iOS app! If you are looking for Economics one-­‐oh-­‐ are in the wrong fucking place, my friend! “Don’t you remember, Travis? Jamie McGuire is the New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Sacrifice, Beautiful Redemption, Beautiful Oblivion, A Beautiful Wedding, Red Hill, Walking Disaster, and Beautiful Disaster. His first attempt to take his own life happened in 1968, before he became popular. Your image is too large, maximum file size is 8 MB.Ooops! I loved how we got to see a bit of Travis and Abby again, and to see how much their love for one another just jumps off the page. She sort of tagged along; she didn’t want me to come alone.”Several chairs knocked together as the soccer team left their seats. The tops of Marek’s and Travis’ heads became visible, so I continued to push my way forward.When I finally reached the front, Marek grabbed Travis with his thick arms and attempted to throw him to the ground. I squeezed through the crowd, following close behind my best friend.“Keep your cash in your wallet, Abby!” America called to me. Amazing. I bet the guy in the PEDO shirt made this!Ooops! Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-­‐Night Stand.Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid.

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‘My customers are my heroines’ – Christina DuVarney of Beautiful Disaster Clothing

Christina DuVarney is the proud owner of Beautiful Disaster Clothing. Beautiful Disaster is a multi-million dollar brand that distributes confidence and self-empowerment through fashion with a purpose.

With a team of 9, Beautiful Disaster has been  in business for 13 years, from its base in California.

Thanks to Christina for taking the time to share her story and top tips for business success. 

Tell us about your customers

Our customers are women of all ages, backgrounds and experiences, the tie that bonds us all together is that we have been through traumas and struggles. We have been through hell and back and like the Phoenix when we were reduced to ashes, we emerged stronger than ever.

Identifying with the concept of being a beautiful disaster has become incredibly powerful, and we are so honoured to be able to give women a platform to wear clothing that makes them feel empowered, strong and better about themselves. The need it meets is Self Acceptance.

What did you do before you started your business and how has that experience helped your venture?

Sales. I was a natural born salesperson. From selling cars to making over half a million cold calls over the phone, I lived, ate and breathed sales. I had a 20+ year career in the Automotive Industry and that is where I got my chops. I was belittled, I was bullied and I was harassed. That is where I got the gift of a chip on my shoulder to be great. It only fueled me to be better, to work harder, to work faster, to work smarter and to win. Those experiences gave me grit and that is the characteristic that separates good from great.

If relevant how does family fit alongside the business?

I am fortunate to run this business alongside my husband Tory, we have built this brand together, hand in hand for the last 13 years, our motto is “Everything Together Always”. We are often told that it is quite the feat to work side by side in love and business with such ease. We know we are very fortunate to have the strong relationship that we have. There is nobody I would rather have by my side, through every failure and victory. We have a 6-year-old daughter who is already a pro at folding t-shirts and labeling packages. Everything Together Always.

What do you do to relax?

Pilates and vacations. I have a non-negotiable on my pilates days, it is my sacred time. We, as a family, also have non-negotiables for our vacations and time off. We take 3-4 vacations a year and that is our most precious time together to laugh, play and have fun. Our phones and laptops are always with us – not by force, by choice. We are in love with what we do and we don’t mind taking it with us everywhere we go. From Hawaii to Mexico and everywhere in between we are always happy to keep working on this incredible brand and legacy.

What are your values and what role do they play in the business?

I will give you my top 3:

Time: I am very aware of how precious time really is. It is our most valuable asset and should not be wasted. While I do not live life like today will be my last, meaning fearful, I am very conscious of how I invest my time. I am careful not to spend it – only invest it.

Joy: There must be joy in just about everything that I do. Do I have tasks that I do not enjoy – of course, but I keep them to a minimum and I have no problem saying no to things that will not fill me with joy.

Personal Growth: I am a personal growth JUNKIE! I have more mentors than I can count and I rely on the advice experience and wisdom of others to help me be the greatest version of me I can be. From books to courses, to podcasts I am obsessed with self-development!

What are the high points of building your business?

The stories from our tribe of women. When I receive an email, video or comment from a woman in our tribe who tells me that Beautiful Disaster has positively impacted their life and self-esteem that is the highest high I could ask for. Recently I had a vendor make a comment that they wished they worked for more brands like Beautiful Disaster because what we are doing is a movement and really making a difference for people. The highest points are when people are genuinely touched by what we are doing.

What were the toughest challenges and how did you get over them?

We have failed more times than I can count, we had to change the name of our brand 2 times and we struggled for 10 years to get the brand off the ground. There were countless times when giving up would have been much easier than pressing forward. Giving up on this was never an option, we just had to fail forward and learn along the way – and by we have learned a lot! I can safely say we have probably learned every way NOT to succeed and those lessons have been the foundation for our success.

Money – if you needed funding for start-up or to grow, where did you get it from and how was the process?

We are proudly a 100% self-funded debt-free company.

Marketing  – tell us about a marketing tactic that works really well for your business?

Storytelling. This is the people’s brand, their stories are what has shaped us into the brand we are today. Hearing from the women in this tribe about their stories and why they identify with the Beautiful Disaster brand has been the catalyst for our growth. The women in the BD tribe have paved the way for every design, every quote, every ad, and every marketing strategy. We listen to them and we give them what they ask for.

What are your main sales channels?

Our website, Facebook and IG.

Technology – how does technology fit into the business?

Everything we do is content and the distribution of that content on all platforms, we utilise technology to be the messenger.

Where do you get support from?

The Beautiful Disaster Tribe, we are all so connected on a deep level. I also get support from my mentors, there are so many people that I turn to for advice and inspiration. I never have to do anything alone. Also, my incredible business partners, my husband Tory and our Co-Owner Jamie – they are my rocks.

Who has inspired you and why?

Where do I begin?? This is probably the hardest question because I am inspired on a daily basis by so many people, I may sound like a broken record but it is the women in the Beautiful Disaster Tribe that inspire me the most. They are the everyday heroines. When you take the time to learn about them as individuals it is impossible not to be inspired. These women have suffered and survived, have had pain and joy, have been beaten down and continue to fight.

What are your future plans or goals? 

We are just getting started, recently we expanded our collections into plus size (we call it Curvy) and that was a huge undertaking and investment. We have a very high demand for expanding into other categories such as footwear, cosmetics, housewares and more. In time we will give this tribe everything they have asked for.

Three things you have learned? 

  1. Surround yourself with people who inspire you – this is non-negotiable.
  2. Failing is only a lesson. If you truly learn from your mistakes you will find that they are guiding you – this is not always easy but I promise you there is a gift in every misfortune or mistake.
  3. LISTEN. If you just listen to your people, your customers, your vendors, your employees and YOURSELF the answers will be revealed.

Your best piece of advice?

Do something you care about. It is not just a saying that if you do what you love you will never “work” a day in your life. I can honestly say that it almost never feels like “work”. That may sound cliche but it is so true.

Categories Fashion, Inspiration, Overcoming Hardship, StoriesTags ecommerce, InstagramSours:


Annual revenue:$3M - $5M


Want to know what makes an apparel brand super successful? We’ve got the inside scoop from Christina DuVarney, the owner of one of our favorite brands! Beautiful Disaster is a clothing brand that fulfills 300-500 orders a day. But it is how they have managed to connect with their customers that is truly unique.

We know that the clothing niche is booming; you just have to look at the 2019 trending products and top eCommerce stores to see the huge potential of starting a clothing business. However, the brand reminds us that popular product categories aren’t enough. Showing us how important it is to build a community around your brand and offer something unique and valuable to your shoppers.

From creation to growth, they have put an emphasis on creating a tribe so that all their shoppers feel like they are part of a community – a community of people who celebrate their beautiful imperfections while empowering and supporting each other. This is evident in every aspect of their business, from the products they design to the content they provide.

“With every fiber of clothing, it is our mission to empower the beautifully broken and perfectly imperfect.”

We sat down with the founder of Beautiful Disaster, Christina, to find out the secrets to how she was able to grow a multimillion-dollar online clothing brand while building a community and inspiring and supporting shoppers. Including an inside look into how the brand creates their designs, fulfillment strategies, best-performing traffic streams, customer experience strategies and more!

Grab that coffee, get comfy and be ready to be inspired.

1. How did you get started with Beautiful Disaster Clothing?

We started our apparel brand about thirteen years ago, out of my garage, on a small scale. We did this by putting a brand name on a tank top or a t-shirt that I would then sell at different local events and festivals, as well as to friends and family.

It was when I started to get a deeper understanding of how the brand made people feel that things really started to take off. Identifying with the concept of being a beautiful disaster has become incredibly powerful, and I am so honored to be able to give women a platform to wear clothing that makes them feel empowered, strong and better about themselves.

The foundation of our brand is our tribe.

There is a lot going on in the world that makes you feel like you should be perfect. And we understand that perfect does not exist.

We all have a story.

We at Beautiful Disaster are doing everything in our power to create a platform for people to feel proud of what they have been through and how they are healing and surviving. Some of the things our tribe has been through will bring you to your knees.

These women are unbelievable warriors who deserve to be celebrated.

who is beautiful disaster

2. Was your brand always called Beautiful Disaster?

Behind every success story there is failure. Just like behind every beautiful disaster there’s a story.

When I started my first clothing company, I picked a name that I thought was cheeky and cute and started printing it on t-shirts. It was only after I had already invested in my first run that I found out that someone else owned the name.

So I got a cease and desist letter about 11 years ago from a company, and quickly figured out that you can’t just put words on a shirt and print them. We hired an attorney, did our research, and made sure we did everything the legal, ethical way; we decided on a new brand name to Beautiful Disaster.

3. Are You Selling Mostly Off- or On-line?

We are now strictly an eCommerce online business. For years we concentrated on selling at music festivals, county fairs and other events. We only stopped doing events about a year and a half ago. Furthermore, we had a retail boutique up until about three months ago. However, we’ve decided as of 2019 to be 100% online.

We put in a lot of time on the road doing shows to build brand awareness and connecting with our potential shoppers, and just felt that we needed to put more energy into our online fulfillment. Instead, we now offer:

  • On-site pick up for our local customers who are used to us having a store, where they can come to our warehouse in California
  • Warehouse sales every four to six weeks where local shoppers still have that opportunity to connect with our local support staff, and our staff are able to connect with our most loyal customers who have been supporting us since day one

eCommerce has enabled us to reach and connect with so many women around the country and the world, catapulting our business.

4. Who Are Your Shoppers?

We don’t have a set demographic; we have a psychographic. This is because it doesn’t matter what age our female target audience shoppers are – we’re connecting to a mindset. We are an identity brand. People connect with what it means to be a beautiful disaster, and that has no age or income limit. It doesn’t have all of these regular demographic segmentations that other brands try to box their customers into. We’re different in that way; we have thirteen-year-olds buying and wearing our brand and we have shoppers in their 70s.

5. What are Your Most Successful Paid Traffic Streams for Reaching Customers?

We are very aggressive on Facebook and Google (with StoreYa). We have had a lot of success with Facebook video ads; they are by far the champions of our marketing efforts. We are able to capture the emotions and feelings of our brand with the story-telling abilities of video marketing.

In terms of Google, YouTube and Dynamic Product advertising, we were a little skeptical at first, as StoreYa seemed too easy to be true. So we started very slowly at first, tracking the ROIs on Traffic Booster to ensure we were getting the right results for our spend. We quickly began to see that the platform had significant ROIs and decided to scale up. And we’ve been scaling up ever since, getting an average of 9.4 ROAS.

If I hand you a dollar and you hand me back ten, it’s a no-brainer that we would then invest more.

example of performing google campaign

6. What is Your Video Marketing Style and Approach?  

We use a mixture of video clips and powerful emotion words and quotes. For instance, our most recent launch was for a collection called ‘You don’t know my story.’ The collection is so powerful – for the person wearing it and for people who see you wearing it. Our aim with this collection was to interrupt the power of judgment and have been able to share stories of the women in our tribe, merged with model shots, as well as featuring models who have their own stories.

In most of our video content, we feature plus and non-plus size models, with each of our models having a story. We have models who have battled eating disorders, who have had to teach themselves how to walk again. Ultimately, we are very particular about who represents our brand and who we feature in our videos.

7. How do You Tackle Your Content Marketing Strategies?

We leverage all of our digital marketing platforms to spread the word and create excitement and engagement around the brand and women’s personal stories. This includes utilizing our email lists and our blog. We are also developing our YouTube channel at a more rapid rate.

We are trying to be everywhere, creating valuable, meaningful content that people can connect with. It’s important to us that people to really connect with our brand and want to be apart of our tribe.

Right now we have 218k fans following our main Facebook page, over 8k in our private Facebook group and 59k followers on Instagram.

Instagram is a little slower in terms of platform growth. This is mostly because our customers are a little bit more active on Facebook than Instagram. But we have big plans for the coming year in terms of Instagram content strategies and posting volume.

8. Why did you create the Facebook Group?

Whether they are having a good or a bad day, we wanted to create a forum or platform where our customers (our tribe) could feel safe and secure to connect with other like-minded people who have been through hell and back like they have. Our Facebook group is an extraordinary place where our customers can connect with other women, share stories and offer advice, encouragement and support. It has cultivated an unbelievable, empathetic bond within that private group.

Private group beautiful disaster

9. What is your email marketing strategy?

Like with all our marketing efforts, connectivity of the tribe comes first. Therefore, we utilize our emails to highlight a personal story (about once or twice a month) from one of our Beautiful Disaster tribe members, to empower and inspire the rest of our community.

mailer example

Additionally, we send emails for product launches and exclusive sales, have an automatic welcome series, and send out emails for birthdays that thank our tribe for being born. All in all, we try to limit our emails to one or two a week, varying the content or campaign types. None of us like to get spam, so we ensure we don’t spam our customers.


We have also divided our mailing lists into lots of segments to ensure the content they are getting is highly relevant to them. And of course, we have automated email flows, including cart abandonment emails.

abandonment_Email example

10. Who Develops and Creates Your Apparel Designs?

I am the creative director and come up with most of our base concepts. Additionally, we have a full-time in-house graphic artist, Jamie, who is an absolute genius. She has been designing this line for twelve years and became a partner and owner of our company a little over a year ago.

When we brainstorm ideas and concepts, she really brings design ideas to life. She has always been a massive part of the brand and the two of us are like two peas in a pod. We really can’t do what we do without each other!

11. What is Your Winning Formula for Creating and Launching Your Products?

Most of our designs come from emotions. We try to think about what our customers have been through and how they feel, and then we come up with graphics and statements or quotes that will empower and really connect with our shoppers. The design process can be broken down into the following steps:

Step 1:

We come up with the emotional concept.

Step 2:

We brainstorm the wording and design direction.

Step 3:

Our design guru, Jamie, then works her magic to come up with five or six different design mock-ups.

Step 4:

All of us review the options and decide on a final design as a group. This includes getting opinions from our whole team, including our warehouse bunnies.

Step 5:

We then put the strongest design into production.

Beautiful Disaster is continually developing new garment variants, product types and sizes for each collection. We are very unique because we offer sizes from 2 to 24; not a lot of brands have invested in expanding their collections into curvy sizes. This is something that is very, very important to our customers and us. Therefore, most of our garments are custom-produced either nationally or internationally, and we then screen print locally in Camarillo, California.

Once the products are screen printed, they are brought back to our headquarters and counted into stock. Our warehouse bunnies are constantly folding and putting products back on the shelves to make sure that as the orders roll in, they go straight out the door.

12. What is Your Order Process for Custom Garments?

With each custom garment, we always sample first. We make sure we use our fit model for every size to ensure the sizes are consistent and accurate. We always double check fit, comfort, material and quality, and everything gets hand checked and measured before going into full production.

13. And If a Design Fails?

Our customer feedback is the most valuable asset we have. In the rare case that we launch something and it bombs, we listen to why it bombed and assess where we went wrong, what we could have done better and pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and carry on. We don’t let it stop us or slow us down; if anything, it’s an opportunity for growth.

Every failure and misstep along the way has taught me so much. I wouldn’t change a thing because I would not be where I am today without overcoming every hurdle or doubt. If I hadn’t failed and picked myself up again, to do every single thing the way that I did it, the brand wouldn’t be what it is.

14. Have You Considered Outsourcing Your Fulfillment?

We visited a 3PL facility and just felt like it wouldn’t be a good fit for us. We know that nobody will care about our customers more than us. Ultimately, we were just not ready to hand over any portion of our business to anybody, therefore we decided to opt out of using an eCommerce fulfillment service. 

We pride ourselves on being personal with our fulfillment: wrapping the packages in tissue, adding in our little notes, adding our stickers. We do everything to ensure every order has a special Beautiful Disaster touch, which has become part of our branding.

Plus, we want to provide jobs. We really love creating jobs in our business and creating a fulfilling work environment that our staff can thrive and grow in.

15. Who Are Your Other Partners?

It’s Jamie Vine, myself and my husband Tory DuVarney. My husband, who created the Beautiful Disaster brand with me, additionally created our other brand, Handsome Devil Clothing, which was formed before Beautiful Disaster was even born and we include on our site. We hope to grow at the same magnitude, but with Beautiful Disasters’ huge growth, our primary focus is there for now.

Working with my husband has been fantastic; we have something very unique and special. We’ve been together for sixteen years and our family motto is, “Everything together, always.”Everything we do is together; we are each other’s support system, and I could not be more blessed than to work side-by-side with him every single day.

16. How Lean is Your Business?

We have our own warehousing, with five amazing warehouse staff who pick, pack, pull and make sure each order is correct. They are the best, most incredible team of women we could have asked for. Additionally, we have a digital marketing manager who is off-site and located in Salt Lake City.

We are also in the process of hiring a videographer and editor so that we can distribute a lot more social content.

17. What are Your Customer Experience Strategies and Incentives?

  • There is free shipping on orders over $75, within the US.
  • We also offer free surprise gifts for every order over $50. Our gifts are always something exclusive, so they are not products we are selling on the site – a product that you could only get with your purchase. We are always changing our free gifts to keep them fresh and unique.
  • We have a generous return policy that is up to 30 days for any unworn and unwashed products customers want to return.
  • Furthermore, we recently added order insurance. This means customers can ensure the item for about a dollar – in case of delivery loss, theft or damage, to ensure an immediate replacement is sent, no questions asked. This makes customers feel safer about ordering by protecting them from ‘Porch Pirate’ trends in the US. For this, we use Route, which is fully integrated with Shopify.

18. Are You Using Shopify Advanced or Shopify Plus?

Shopify Advanced. Right now, Shopify Plus doesn’t offer us enough benefits to outweigh the costs for the upgrade. And we don’t believe the transaction rate reduction is significant enough for us to consider the move right now.

19. What are Your Must-Have Apps?

Definite must-have eCommerce apps are StoreYa’s Traffic Booster, and Recart. Recart has helped us streamline our retargeting, abandoned cart and Facebook Messenger campaigns. It’s an absolute must-have.

facebook messenger marketing example

I am actually in the process of developing a Shopify app. I can’t go too much into details as it is still very hush-hush. When you are a store owner and use Shopify and you look for an app, you often can’t find something that does exactly what you need it to do. So I decided to create it. I believe it is going to be a big disrupter of how eCommerce is used to operating, enabling a better customer shopping experience.

I can’t say too much, but it will be exciting and a must-have app when we launch on the app store.

20. What Can We Expect from Beautiful Disaster in the Future?

We have big plans on the go.

Our first order of business and priority for 2019 is our curvy section. We have really been putting a lot of time, energy, resources and money into developing our curvy lines. We want our tribe to be able to get everything we’re selling regardless of their shape or size, ensuring we cover sizes small right through to curvy 3X. This year we have committed to having a robust curvy section! 

curvy section beautiful disaster

Additionally, we are planning on launching a new category. It’s also on the down-low so we can’t talk about it just yet. I will say it will be very exciting for our shoppers and will give Kylie Jenner  a run for her money.

The ultimate dream for Beautiful Disaster is to do everything; being in multiple categories. We want the pillows on your couch, the lipstick on your face, the clothes that you wear and the shoes on your feet to empower you.

We’re just getting started!

There is no doubt that Beautiful Disaster offers us invaluable eCommerce lessons we can use to build multimillion-dollar businesses. But it is Christina and her team’s positivity, motivation and connection with their shoppers that really set them apart.

I will leave you with Christina’s number one piece of advice for online store owners:

“Connect with your customers and don’t just sell them things. If you have empathy and kindness and you create something that means something to someone, they will want to be a brand ambassador and use your products.”

For more inspiration on building a successful online clothing brand, visit our eCommerce Lessons from 16 Top Apparel Online Store Examples post and Success Story blog section





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Behind disaster clothing beautiful story

This article is a part of our encyclopedia, and is editable by you. Edit ➜

Beautiful Disaster is an American apparel & accessories company. The company was founded in 2008 by Christina DuVarney and is based in Ventura.

With Every Fiber Of Clothing, It Is Our Mission To Empower The Beautifully Broken And Perfectly Imperfect.

Company History

Christina DuVarney details the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: [1]

Q: How did you get started on Beautiful Disaster?

The Beautiful Disaster brand was built to inspire women to move closer to happiness and further from pain. We have failed more times than we can count, much like the women in this tribe! Through years of ups and downs, we were able to create the brand we always wanted.

Being able to make a positive impact on someone makes all the hard work worth it!

I wanted to create a brand that was like no other and had a purpose behind it. Before starting the brand, I worked as a personal stylist for VH1 reality shows, such as Rock of Love, Daisy of Love & Charm School. I had extensive job experience and an eye for fashion but had no idea how to run a clothing company but I didn’t let that stop me. I believe in life you have to start right where you are and figure it out as you go.



Beautiful Disaster is built on Shopify.

They use Shippo and Route Shipping Insurance for their shipping. Facebook and Instagram for their social media.



Contributors to this article:

  • Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
  • Wiki Updater

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