Former member of LDS Church launches ‘Molly Mo’ clothing line for sister missionaries

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Last week, as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was holding their women’s session of General Conference, a Sandy man and former member of the LDS Church launched a new fashion line for sister missionaries.

When the age requirement for sister missionaries was recently lowered, the LDS Church saw the number of women signing up for missions triple, and Nate Zubal said a wider range of women calls for a wider range of options when it comes to what wear during those 18 months of service.

"I started as a men's fashion editor, they threw a lanyard around my neck and sent me to Fashion Week,” Zubal said. “I had never been to Fashion Week before, never really knew what fashion was.”

More than a decade after Zubal left his hometown of Sandy to start a career in fashion in New York City, he’s back with a new business.

"Molly Mo is a brand to help build that type of mindset and higher standard with modest clothing that fits not only the LDS standards, but lots of different types of religions and also professionalism, so it's a mix-and-match suiting concept that's built for women,” Zubal said.

Zubal is a proud gay man who left the Mormon faith years ago, but after seeing there were really no high fashion options catering to his sisters and friends who were still active members he decided to launch a blog to see if there was a need for what he knew he could supply.

Katie Riggs is a Molly Mo customer, and she spoke about the niche the clothing line seeks to fill.

“It's always been a challenge to have a standard on how you dress,” she said. “It is, it's just been a challenge for me specifically, maybe not for everyone, but for me it has been hard.”

Zubal is of course not the first person to sell modest clothes and market them to Mormons. Mr. Mac has nine stores across Utah and has been associated with missionary wear.

“I think one day grandpa just realized he needed a job, and that he was good at getting people to buy things,” said Scotty Christensen, Mr. Mac’s grandson. “I’ve been real surprised with the number of soon-to-be sister missionaries that we have through the store.”

Mr. Mac has a growing sister missionary section, but Zubal said he’s hoping to sell more than just clothes.

“Fashion is more than just the clothes you put on, it's an environment, and when you buy into a fashion brand--you’re buying into a lifestyle,” he said. “And we’re looking to create that for mothers and sister missionaries, something like an activity, something to participate in, something is bringing you that New York fashion scene but geared for your standards.”

Last weekend’s event coincided with the LDS Church’s women’s session of General Conference. Molly Mo held a showcase revealing the sister missionary clothing line. The event was held in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and more than 250 women attended.

Zubal said: "I had women pulling me aside and saying, ‘Thank you so much for doing this. You know it's really hard for us to feel like we have somebody that's speaking to us’ and you know, I grew up Mormon. That's my family. It's my sister-in-laws. It’s my friends, my girlfriends, and it was a really humbling experience.”

For more information about Molly Mo, click here.

51 comments

  • Molly Babcock

    What a terrible name! Really!? Seriously!? When did the name Molly have anything to do with Mormons? Ugh!

    • Terrazzo

      Mormans were the first to coin the name Molly after finding it in the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately its business will fail.

      • Deanna

        Sorry to inform you but ‘Molly ‘ does not appear anywhere in the Book of Mormon nor any name even similar.
        Also, why is his religious affiliation even important in this context?

    • The Mean Mama

      Darling Molly, don’t stress, its at term/phrase/whatever in our church. Molly Mormon & Peter Priesthood, its a teasing thing for someone who is doing everything you are suppose to be doing. “Well aren’t you just a perfect little Molly Mormon.” It’s actually hysterical that he is using a derogatory term and turning it into something positive.

    • Capsaicin

      I agree. I hope women avoid the brand just as men would avoid a “Peter Priest” brand of clothing.

      • nateznyc

        I totally agree a store called “peter priest” sounds a little silly. We can do better… perhaps just “Priest” or rather, “Jack Mo” would have more of a hip, cool vibe to it. 😉

      • nateznyc

        Eva, Interested to hear what you would call it, you know, since what I did was stupid and all 😉

    • Nate Zubal

      Well I guess If my name was Molly I might be a little frustrated too. The name “Molly Mo” is to play off the name “Molly Mormon” for so long this phrase has had a negative spin on it. And, just like modest that is seen to be frumpy and old, I wanted to take a phrase used in my childhood and flip it on it’s head — bringing a fresh take to something judged and old. I’m sorry you don’t like it, but personally I think it’s fun and playful. Thank you so much for your feed back 🙂

  • Alice Harrison

    There are a lot more ladies than sister missionaries that would be interested in his line. If you really want a hard time weigh only 115 lbs and try to find a modest swimming suit. I finally did but I know there are many people that are not members of the church that want to go to the pool with the kids or grandkids and not show off everything. By the way; I like the name.

    • nateznyc

      Thanks Alice — that does sound hard to find good swimwear. What type of swimsuit are you looking for? One piece? are you ok with a high-waisted two piece? I’ve found there are different levels of modesty with swimwear.

      Oh and thank you! I like the Molly Mo name too 😉

  • Liz

    I think this is wonderful! Zubal, I am so grateful for your talent and determination to dress women in a respectful way. Truly wonderful. Much thanks. Awesome brother award!

  • Marian

    This is great! I wish j had more options when I served a mission. I would love to know if they will come in plus sizes as well.

    Thanks!!

    • nateznyc

      Hey Marian — yes, we will have plus sizing available and clothing constructed for modesty means that there will be less layering which is much more flattering for a many different body types.

  • Kristi

    I love this and I love the clothes that I have seen so far. I can’t wait until they become available. I have 3 daughters that love clothes but struggle to find decent clothes that are comfortable, fit well, look awesome and are modest. This guy is filling a gaping hole in the women’s market, not just for the Mormons–but anyone woman who wants to look put together without being immodest or “sexy” at work.

  • Tambra Nelson

    i can not thank you enough for designing “high fashion” modest clothing apparel!!!! I’m not a missionary, but will wear the clothes!! It’s in style, not the same old things I keep having to buy because of the way the clothes are cut. I work in the fashion industry and its very hard to find clothes that are in style and that will work for me. This made my day!!

  • Cheryl

    I’m so excited to check out your clothing line! Women, whether serving as missionaries, working in a professional environment or just wanting to look sharp appreciate modest clothing that IS stylish! Can’t wait to follow your line!

    • nateznyc

      I’m sorry Glen, that’s passing quite a bit of judgement on someone you don’t know. Good thing Mormon missionaries don’t live by your way of thinking… It’s important to be accepting and open to the way others live — and I’m sure lots of young women and their moms will be happy to know that finally, there is durable, fashionable clothing that is modest and has taken into account their endowments. I grew up LDS and am an eagle scout and loved to perform all my callings. I never rejected my faith — it just changed. And thats ok.
      But thank you for your comment — I’m pretty sure you wont be wearing my dresses anyway 😉

    • Beth

      Why financially support an ex Mormon? Why not? We don’t believe in shunning people. There are also not enough people out there making the modest clothes that Mormon and other women want to wear. I hope he gets so rich from this that other designers take notice. I see non-Mormon moms having a hard time finding clothes for their girls that don’t look slutty. There is a huge market for this.

    • heidi

      This is such a silly comment. If LDS people only financially supported people who embrace our faith then we would be missing out on quite a lot of things. I am willing to bet if you looked at those who “own” most of the brands of items you use on a regular basis that the majority of them have little opinion of our faith, and if you delved further into their religious opinions you would find that some of them may even disagree with our faith. Who cares. To go even further. To boycott something just because those affiliated with it have feelings different from yours is not very Christlike. One of my friends recently said we should not ride in a local cycling event because it was a fund raiser for a local private school that supposedly shared anti Mormon teaching. My thoughts? That is the best reason to support this event. All of the Mormons should even make more effort to ride in the fundraiser race!!! Nate does not “hate” the church, he is just not a part of it anymore. I like what he is doing

    • ANOTHERBOB

      It’s refreshing to see TRUTH (AKA Trish Ramirez) supporting modest clothing for women. The last thing LDS women worry about when buying clothes is the personal lives of the designers.

  • Eva Peterson

    I am appalled at the name of this clothing line. For years people have tried to get rid of the stupid term”Molly Mormon” and now a clothing line for sister missionaries carries it and even worse the slang “Molly Mo”? I would never shop here just by looking at the name. This is a terrible branding plan. You definitely did not pass the name by any sort of target group ahead of time. 

    • nateznyc

      Thanks Eva but I’m sorry you’re wrong. 😦
      I’ve been working the Molly Mo concept for 5 years. I’ve done countless focus groups, facebook quizzing, I visit the sisters monthly at Temple Square, I’ve attended wards on Sunday, talked to bishops and stake presidents, and have over 200 female LDS contacts I connect with regularly to question.

      I selected the name because it has immediate mind share, and, for a “branding plan” creating this mindshare can come two ways: Like it or Leave it. Both are very powerful and a new brand, if done correctly, can benefit from this impact. My first news broadcast is rounding 9700 likes and the risk is paying off!

      The fun part about the name is that “Molly Mormon” signifies the ideal LDS sister. She participates in sacrament, fulfills her callings, she reads her scriptures and she does not compromise her values. This is the perfect brand name for my company. And, while the name has drummed up a negative viewpoint, I think it’s time we flip the term on it’s head — just like you’d expect “modesty” to be frumpy — we now offer a brand that does not compromise standards while still having fun with fashion.

      In fact, there has been a lot of brand planning, and while you may not like the name, it is well vetted and thought through completely. I appreciate your input and please keep connected! You’ll have to come by one of our soon-to-launch pop-up shops this Summer. I think you’ll change your tune when you feel the fresh vibe my team is creating around the concept. 🙂

      • TSnow

        I agree! Let’s flip the negative connotation of “Molly” and teach our children that to be called a Molly should actually be compliment. If it means we are living up to a standard, then accept the good in that. It’s clever and refreshing to erase any negativity we can. It sure would have helped me in my youth if someone had explained that being called a Molly didn’t mean I needed to be more or less than I was. Good luck on your ventures and thank you for seeing a need and running with it!

  • Jackie

    Mr. Zubal, I cannot thank you enough for this! I wish you overwhelming success with your new line! (Ignore the detractors complaining about the name-I am a 60 year old grandma, and I love it!) I hope you will think about designing clothing appropo for “more mature” LDS women……I, for one, would buy them!

  • scj

    I have been waiting for someone like Nate to come along, and I can’t wait to try out some of the clothing! To all the naysayers – I don’t see this as a “slap in the face” or demeaning at all. He clearly still has a good relationship with and loves his Mormon family and friends. It’s a business opportunity, and if successful, benefits him and LDS women. By the way, if you think that it is wrong to “financially support” a business whose lifestyle/interests are against the church, then you had better not be using Apple products, fly Alaskan, Delta, United or American Airlines, buy from Target, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, bank with Wells Fargo, buy/watch anything Disney, eat anything from General Mills, have Direct TV or Comcast, use any products from Procter & Gamble, wear Nike or Levi’s . . . . you get the point.

  • Pyper

    I am really excited to see his line! Living in the Midwest I have found it difficult to find fun, fashionable clothing that meets my standards and body type. I think his brand has amazing potential…both in and outside the LDS faith.

  • Jenny

    I don’t get the hullabaloo over the name, I find it amusing/cute/fun. Well done sir. Now, shut up and take my money!

  • Nate Zubal

    thank you for all of your support and comments – I really appreciate people reaching out with such a positive response.

    And, I can understand why there may be a negative connotation to the name “Molly Mo” growing up in Sandy, we always used the term “Molly Mormon” negatively – and I could never figure out why that would be! Molly Mormon is somebody who lives by the covenants, supportive of her community, the field her calling, reads her scriptures and does service. All of that sounds pretty awesome! And somebody we should all look up to.

    The name “Molly Mo” is meant to take the negative connotation and flip it on its head and make you reconsider what you wants judged. Where modesty is seem to be frumpy and grandma –ish. This new brand is upscale, durable, and lets you live by a higher standard without compromising your values.

    Molly Mo is the larger parent company of a line of modest brands to be released over the next coming years.

    Our first capsule collection is inspired by the work of sister missionaries. It’s called “Mission control” A mix-and-match student collection bill to be durable for sisters in the field.

    Make sure to follow up on our website MollyMo.com to keep updated on all of the cool fun activities coming up in the next few months!

    Thank you so much for all of the feedback and support!

    • Roxanne

      What an incredible line, and equally incredible person! So happy to see fashionable options that will demonstrate both modesty and trendiness, to help our sister missionaries demonstrate its possible to be both modest and on trend. It’s so refreshing to see that someone, although he holds different moral beliefs than those he is trying to serve, can set aside those differences and overcome that gap to serve his sisters. We can all learn a lot from him! Best wishes to you and your business Nate 🙂

  • Amy

    Think this is great! Will it be making its way over the ocean to us here in the UK and Europe? Very hard to find modest clothing.

  • nateznyc

    I am so thankful for all your input and feedback — even if negative, my whole team listens to everything you say and I appreciate the conversation.

    Molly Mo’s first capsule collection, Mission Control, will be available online this Summer and we are planning a really cool event in the Wasatch Room at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building – make sure to sign up on our website for updates! You can expect awesome pop-up shops to visit empty spots in your malls and style events with my team from New York to help make the mission planning process much, much easier for Moms and young women. Because from my research, man, planning for a mission is really hard.

    Plus sizing will be available and we have so many other styles and color ways that were not shown at our edited preview event. The support through my email and Facebook has been totally amazing and if you have ideas or questions or see me on the street come up and say hi! 🙂

    mollymo.com/missioncontrol

  • ilovefamily81

    Thank you! I love the name and the idea of modest in style clothing! I served a mission over 10 years ago and it was so frustrating trying to find clothing….it still can be! Thank you.

  • Wendy

    If this is the man to kill the white T-shirt under everything necessity trend then he is my hero. I cannot wait to see this line launch. Not having to dig and dig to find higher-end modest design would be a dream come true!

  • motherof5

    Will you be offering plus sizes as well. And the real woman plus sizes, not what society says is plus size.

  • iheartmesa

    What a great idea. I like the name, and I think the younger crowd will find it fun and interesting and not offensive at all. I’m LDS and in AZ–it is hard to find attractive clothing that I don’t have to layer, especially during the warm months when I just want to be able to wear ONE shirt.

  • Liz R

    I think Molly Mo is a cute name. I am excited to see all the things you come up with. I hope it won’t just be for sister missionaries, I’m well past that age, but I still like to wear fashionable clothing that doesn’t require 3 or 4 layers to keep me modest. Good Luck, I hope you find lots of success!

  • Maeri-Jo Farley

    I Love this concept. I am not going on a mission, but I just love the clothes. Normally I hate shopping, because the clothing looks horrible on me or is too expensive. Will it be possible to get some of these shipped to Australia? That would be awesome, no more strange t-shirts under clothing, or awkward shrugs that keep slipping off my shoulders. Also, I am not offended by the name, I think it is a clever little play on words – and it certainly is getting the target market talking about it. Which I am assuming is what the designer wants. 🙂 I have been waiting for something like this for years.

  • Mark Clawson

    Nate, I ask your forgiveness, my off the cuff comments just reveal an upbringing of prejudice, so I am going to give that a boot out the window and give you a thumbs up in your sincere efforts to provide church standard compliant clothing to a painfully lacking market. A one stop shop online for my missionariette would be lovely… yet I foresee a possible glitch in the universe… two sister missionaries who purchased the exact same apparel and ended being companions! I hope your selections are endless to avoid the “Elder Missionary” look! Lots of success to ya!

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