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.