Alum Cat Polivoda graduated from Hamline in 2010 as a German and Global Studies double major with a passion for fashion and body positivity. Little did she know, seven years later, that passion would evolve into Cake Plus-Size Resale, her plus-size resale shop in Minneapolis.
Cake Plus-Size Resale is a resale shop with all secondhand, plus-size clothing from sizes XL to 4XL, and sometimes larger sizes, for all genders (with more ‘femme’ clothing, but they are still expanding). They also offer style sessions, which is a mix of personal shopping and style consulting as well as shopping appointments in light of the pandemic.
“For us, it is important to prioritize plus-size shoppers and the fat community. And there aren’t a lot of other thrift shops out there doing that. We have affordable, stylish clothes, which is, I think, sometimes hard to come by when you’re thrifting, especially when you wear larger sizes. We are more connected to the community engagement side of things. It is more than just a place to shop, it’s like a feeling and community,” Polivoda said.
Everything started with simply wanting to free up some closet space. “In January 2014 I had clothes to sell. And this was before there was like Poshmark or like people were selling a lot of stuff on Instagram. It felt like before that stuff had kind of become popular and so I thought I was going to sell my clothes on eBay,” Polivoda said.
While living in New Orleans, Polivoda had a day off of work and decided to be productive and take photos of her clothes and post them.
“Before I put it on eBay I thought, ‘well, why don’t I just post these on social media. If there are people in my networks that I’m connected to that want them, I rather ship to someone I know so why not do that?’ and it was like weirdly successful,” Polivoda said.
Along the way, Polivoda found herself resonating with others: “In a weekend, I made a couple hundred dollars and, perhaps more importantly, I was having really good conversations with people about clothes and also about like being a plus-size person and how it makes them feel and body confidence and those kind of things,” Polivoda said.
Once Polivoda figured out she was onto something, she created a Facebook page for “Cat’s Closet,” which then progressed into a website and pop-ups.
“I just had such good responses to the work that I was doing and especially when I was here in Minnesota. And honestly, part of that is because Hamline people are really supportive,” Polivoda said.
She moved back to Minnesota from New Orleans at the end of 2015 knowing this is where she wanted to open her first brick-and-mortar shop. Two years later, she took a business class through Women Venture in Minneapolis and also did a crowdfunding campaign. Cake Plus-Size Resale opened in the fall of 2017.
Before COVID-19, Cake had around 8% of its sales coming from non-local customers. That has since increased to 50%. Within a year or two, Polivoda is hoping to open up a second location of Cake in Saint Paul and to eventually expand to other cities.
Polivoda attributes her success to her customers and supporters, the profitable business idea and the persistence she has had in developing and growing her business. For college students
who want success after graduation, Polivoda has advice:
“I think it’s always good to have a plan. And also knowing that plans change and that’s okay but kind of having a plan for what you want to be pursuing can be really helpful.” Polivoda said. “Demonstrating a focus in an area can be really helpful ‘cause you’ll gain a lot of knowledge in that area but also you’ll show the people around you what you care about and what you’re up to.”
Cake Plus-Size Resale continues to thrive after three years of business and Polivoda’s focus in her passion has only grown. Her philosophy on clothing remains the same:
“One thing I will always try to remind people– when you’re trying things on, if something doesn’t fit you, it is not your body that is wrong or needs to change, it’s just the clothing that doesn’t work for you,” said Polivoda.
To keep up with Cake, be sure to follow them on social media @cakeplussize and visit their website at www.cakeplussize.com.