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Ashley Stewart Bounces Back With A CEO Who Inspires

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“Ashley Stewart has been reborn by simultaneously going back to its roots and embracing innovation, catapulting a neighborhood store into an iconic global brand.”

Ashley Stewart Bounces Back With A CEO Who InspiresWhile in New York for Full Figured Fashion Week, I had the pleasure of meeting a man who has left more than an impression on me. At the Celebrate Your Curves Expo, I had a chance to chat with the new CEO, James Rhee, who has lit a fire, reignited excitement, and has launched Ashley Stewart out of bankruptcy.  This man left me hyped, excited, and inspired to do more with MY brand and blog- all from a 30 minute conversation he had with me.

I mean… what CEO do you know who has random conversations with regular folk about business, passion, drive, and plus size fashion? You see, upon talking with him, I was not a “blogger” I was a colleague, a business owner, talking to a future mentor. If my 30 minute conversation is anything like what Ashley Stewart has experienced, I am sooo sure that Ashley Stewart is in great hands!

Ashley Stewart Bounces Back With A CEO Who Inspires

Think about it… remember the murmurs of Ashley Stewart going bankrupt? I remember waiting to get all my facts, folks posting on FB about the direction of the brand, and the questions about what was going to happen! But fret no more! Under the new leadership of James Rhee, Ashley Stewart™ not only avoided “cashing in its chips, but has also staged a remarkable reinvention – emerging as a formidable player in the plus size fashion industry.”

And I have seen it first hand with their team! I have seen, spoken with, and have interacted with the Ashley Stewart team more times from September to today than I have in the past six years of my blog. NOW? When I see Tamara, Erica, Michael, or the PR team, they are bouncing around, chatting up the crowds, all passionately working to change perspectives, give us what we NEED, and stay connected to the community!

Just a few conversations with the team and you know that they are happy, have a renewed sense of ownership, and are inspired by the new leadership- one who has left his mark on me with just a 30 minute conversation. He is already on my kind-of-not-real-but-not-but-it-will-be-real board of advisors (in my head).

Thanks to Mr. James Rhee, a long-time successful investor-turned-Executive Chairman and CEO, he re-imagined Ashley Stewart’s business model and transformed “a failed brick-and-mortar company into a high-growth global brand with multi-channel distribution and a cutting-edge digital marketing and ecommerce strategy.”

Ashley Stewart Bounces Back With A CEO Who Inspires

Rhee’s philosophy is “grounded in algorithms, lean processes and technology, but with a heavy dose of compassion and empathy.” Under his passionate leadership that is felt and seen,  Ashley Stewart has made the commitment to US, the plus size woman, and I am here for this!

“We have rewritten the business model and operations from scratch.  We have taken no shortcuts,” says Rhee, “We are making long-term investments in the most important assets – our people, our customer, and our brand.  We fought tooth and nail for the survival of a brand that empowered a core customer base deserving of a voice.  What we achieved was perhaps one-in-a-million, and it was all driven by a mission to finally give due to Ashley Stewart and every woman she has touched since 1991. Whatever the future holds, I know that we have a team and philosophy that is finally worthy of serving the brand and our customer.”

Come on and do it Mr. Rhee!

And you have felt, seen, and liked the changes too! I have noticed and checked out your reactions to their new lingerie, swim, and fashion options… there are more pieces to play in that excite you!

And girl, wait until you see the newest pieces for fall! There is this suede fringe coat that I NEED in my life- HARD!

Ashley Stewart Bounces Back With A CEO Who Inspires

But this news excites me. Seeing a plus size brand pull through with all of its heart to give us what we want and need in life. I LOVE this. Talking with them and sharing YOUR concerns, thoughts, and ideas- they hear us! They see what we share, the LISTEN!

Shop the newest arrivals at

Sky is the limit with Ashley Stewart and I am happy about this new direction!

I plan on seeing more of them and sharing it with you in the VERY near future!

Have you noticed the change? The excitement? The differences? What would you want more of from the brand?

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Written by Marie Denee

I am the Editor in Chic of The Curvy Fashionista. Often goofy. Forever emo. Always a Virgo. You can find me somewhere grooving to 90s R&B.

What do you think?


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  1. There is one store in Ft Worth TX not in the best of neighborhoods. I wish there were more store. Great clothes prices are ok.

  2. I am so glad to see the changes Ashley Stewart is making. Like a lot of other folks, I haven’t shopped there in years because the style selection was “cheesy” we’ll say and the quality was hit or miss and usually not up to par. It just felt like a place that pandered to stereotypes about the “urban” market without regard to the fact that even in “urban” areas ladies have a wide variety of tastes want clothes that are well made and functional. I’m excited to rediscover this brand and hope that they will come out strong for fall!

  3. I used to love Ashley Stewart for fun, trendy clothes and jewelry! And the new stuff looks great! But since they’ve phased out all 28s and most 26s, I don’t get to shop there anymore, unfortunately. So many brick-and-mortar stores are moving away from sizes on the higher end and adding in more 10s and 12s. Sigh.

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