Two things can be true at the same time. Zakia Blain, the founder and CEO of FBF Body, knows this, which is why she wanted to create a community of women who are already happy with the skin they’re in, but also want to live their best, most healthy life. Blain spoke with In the Details host Karen Allen about being in the business of selling confidence, managing insecurity and using the gift of perspective to move forward.
She doesn’t only sell clothes, but also confidence
Blain felt that plus-size bodies had been overlooked by the fitness industry, due to the unrealistic beauty standards in place. She wanted to fight against the norm and create a safe space for people to feel welcome—because whatever size you may be, there is always something you can or want to improve upon. A cute workout outfit is half the battle. Providing her customers with options that make them look good boosts their confidence and invites them to bring greater energy to whatever room they’re in.
Not knowing how to solve a problem or lacking knowledge on a certain subject can cause Blain to experience feelings of insecurity. To combat them, she embraces a doer mindset. She looks within herself and asks why she’s feeling a certain way and what she needs to do to move forward. She therefore feels better prepared when she seeks out help from others, or finds more resources.
A few years ago, Blain was trying to lose weight and methods that had been successful in the past were no longer working. When her doctor wasn’t taking her concerns seriously, she advocated for herself and found another provider that was willing to go the extra mile to provide her with answers.
How to approach adversity
Blain believes no one is exempt from good or bad things. Rather, it’s a matter of perspective. When something happens that knocks your world off its axis, it’s okay to feel weak. Because when you sit with that emotion, clarity often follows. So first you must feel it, then deal with it and move on. Reframe yourself as solution-savvy, not as an excuse maker.
How exactly can you move on from that weak feeling? Instead of wallowing, journal about the times you’ve come up against something but persisted in spite of whatever challenge you faced. By conducting these confidence checkpoints, you’re pausing and taking inventory of the small wins you’ve had before. Then you can start to feel momentum building. If you did it before, you can do it again.
We can become fixated on our problems when plans go awry. That’s our default setting, and our brains are trying to protect us by analyzing all the different risks. It’s easy to become focused on the negative, but if we adjust and look at the possibilities instead, we’ll find new ways to attack the issue and take action.
And remember, when something doesn’t work, it’s not a failure—it’s a lesson. Allow yourself time to grieve or feel the disappointment, then regroup, refocus and restrategize to ultimately get to your goal.
How you respond to what happens is what counts
When things happen, it’s important to focus on the lesson, not the loss, and don’t dwell in the woe-is-me attitude. Instead, pivot. Ask yourself how you can change the situation and take your power back. Given that there are so many factors outside your control, it behooves you to think of yourself as a professional overcomer and to choose a response that will help you find success in the end.
When the pandemic began, it no longer made sense for customers to buy FBF Body’s highest-selling item, shapewear, when people were staying at home. The company instead focused on its leggings, which had seen modest sales before the pandemic. They soon became a bestselling item.
A positive outcome of the pandemic is that people are now much more open about the struggles they face. This newfound vulnerability makes us realize that there is so much beneath the surface of a person, rather than just their current success or happiness.
We’ll always be going through something in life, but it’s our response to those challenges that will create our legacy. Don’t allow anything to weigh you down or hold you back from shining.
Jill McDonnell is a Chicago-based content writer and communications professional. She has a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller novel.