FARGO - American fashion designer Anne Klein once said, "Clothes aren't going to change the world. The women who wear them will."
Mary Burd lives by those words. Burd is the owner of the new women's clothing store Voxxy that opened this week at 612 Main Ave. in the space that formerly housed Lot 2029.
"Voxxy is totally a movement for women," Burd said. "It's about all bodies being accepted, seen and represented. And it's also just about empowering women to love themselves, to love their bodies."
While the store sells clothing in sizes 12-22, Burd doesn't identify Voxxy as a plus-size store. She said it's simply a women's clothing store that sells on-trend fashions for the average-sized woman.
Burd said women are told over and over by society that they need to lose weight or look a certain way in order to feel confident or accepted.
"We believe you should love yourself where you're at. Feel good. Wear great clothes. Have great fashion, and go out and take on the world," she said. "That's Voxxy. That's our movement."
A gap in the market
Burd has always loved clothing and fashion, but growing up, she noticed a gap in the market.
"You would go into these stores and they had beautiful, beautiful collections, but there was nothing for the average-sized woman. It was all small-sized clothing," she said.
Though she recognized the problem, she never thought about opening her own store until she was approached by childhood friends Tessa Hiney and Nicole Johnson.
Hiney and Johnson are owners of Kittsona stores in Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck. They encouraged Burd to open a companion store that would offer women's fashions in larger sizes.
At first, Burd said absolutely not. At the time, she was working and pursuing her master's degree in psychology at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, but she couldn't get the idea off her mind.
"I just thought, 'If I want this, other women want it. If I need this, other women need it,'" she said. "I kind of had the mentality that if I don't do it, who's going to do it?"
She admits breaking the news to her parents that she was dropping out of college and quitting her job wasn't easy.
"I think they were kind of floored, but my parents are the best. They kind of have always just encouraged us to go and take risk and take chance. My mom and dad have always said, 'Go out and put yourself and your voice into the world,' and this is absolutely part of me and of who I am," Burd said.
The first Voxxy store opened in Grand Forks in 2016 across the street from Kittsona. Burd said while they're separately owned, Kittsona and Voxxy stores there and in Fargo "work together to make sure the market is full of clothing for women sizes extra-small to 3X."
Abby Anderson immediately fell in love with Voxxy when she visited the Grand Forks store to find a dress for homecoming. The 18-year-old from Grand Forks was frustrated that she couldn't find boutique fashions in her size.
"Especially when you feel like you don't fit in with standards, it's so empowering to have somewhere you can go and know you're going to find clothes that fit and find something you like. I just love this store," Anderson said.
Today, Anderson not only shops there - she models for the store as well.
"When they asked me to start modeling for them, it was the biggest thing in my life. I was so excited. My childhood dream came true," she said.