WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Ever since age 11, when her height became apparent, Anita Pingue, who now stands at 6 feet tall, says it's been a challenge.
"From being younger having to go to the back of the line always, even taking pictures, having to go to the back, finding shoes that fit," she explained. "Being tall has pretty much affected me like my whole life, and I'm 35 years old."
So she's spent the last three years building a clothing brand called WEXIST INC, pronounced "We exist," for tall women like her who can't find pants that are long enough or sweatshirts with sleeves that reach the wrist.
"I went into the shoe store, asked them for a size 11, and he says, 'No, we only go to the size 10.' And I was like, 'We exist, tall girls exist,' and that's how the name actually came. It was like, we exist, and I'm tired of people saying, 'I don't have your size, I don't have your length,'" she added.
Pingue says that's an attitude she still struggles with on the manufacturing end with suppliers.
"They're all used to whatever they're already making, and some of them have like even mocked tall girls and was like, 'There's no way you need a 37 inseam.' I had to argue with them like, 'Yes, I needed 37 inseam, and don't short me,'" said Pingue. "When I first started, I was receiving samples that were too short, and I'm like, 'Listen, these are for tall women. I need a 37 inseam.' And I had to learn how to do patterns and what to tell them."
And launching in a pandemic wasn't easy to do for a clothing line.
"Everyone closed down to make masks, and I'm like, 'Oh, my God, what am I going to do?' I had to figure out how to make it on my own and find suppliers overseas to make this stuff for me, and April of last year, I launched my first private label product, which is my joggers, and here we are."
Pingue is working out of a small space in Wilkes-Barre but hopes to open a storefront soon. Her online business focuses on women's streetwear right now, but WEXIST is growing fast and expanding. She tells Newswatch 16 unisex clothing and loungewear are next on her to-do list.
To learn more about the brand, you can visit the WEXIST INC. website by clicking here.