Meet The Founder Bridging Fashion and Wellness for Plus-Size Women
Being an entrepreneur means you have to think outside the box to realize what differentiates you from your competitors. As part of our Office Depotcollaboration, Selfmade graduate Camille Newman is sharing her story of reimagining the plus-size market by bridging fashion, community and wellness with Pop Up Plus.
B + C: How did you know Pop Up Plus was your business to start?
Years ago, I was going out on a date and I couldn't find anything to wear. Eight hours into my shopping experience, on 34th street in NYC, I realized there was this void for women who were size 16 and up. I wanted to create this special space where women who are plus-sized can come and hang out and shop, so Pop Up Plus, which offers apparel, accessories, and online classes for plus-size women, started as a pop-up shop. It evolved to an online business in 2015.
What inspired you to think beyond fashion and offer classes?
For plus-sized women, shopping can be traumatic, and it is for many of my clients. One day during the pandemic, I said let's do an online class on how to date as a plus-size woman, and it was a hit. Our first class had over 500 sign-ups, it was crazy. In 2021, I'm going to add monthly classes in self-care and wellness to diversify.
Did you always know that fashion would be part of your entrepreneurial path?
I went to college at Oberlin in Ohio, and I was in the pre-med program. By the end of my sophomore year, I just didn't feel the passion. I started taking economics and I always had a love for fashion and I thought maybe I can fuse the study of economics with a fashion business.
I remember going to my professor and him telling me that pursuing fashion was shallow. I'll never forget that. I still moved forward anyway and charted my own path. From my experience at Oberlin I moved directly into the fashion industry with my first job at Lane Bryant. The hope was to get experience from corporate fashion and then start my own business.
What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
I loved the fact that there were all these entrepreneurs running million-dollar businesses and we were on Zoom calls with them. That type of access is rare! I loved Brit and Anj's energy. They made it very clear in the beginning the kind of environment that they wanted to provide, and it directed everyone's attitude. From the beginning it was always like "You go girl, you can do it!"
I definitely have imposter syndrome. I think a lot of women do. It's particularly bad in entrepreneurship because you're under so much pressure. So during Selfmade I was able to work through that with our mentors and the different classes so I'm forever grateful for the Selfmade program. I also won the pitch competition!
What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
It's been challenging getting the word out and figuring out funding. Facebook ads were my go-to, but as of late, with changes in the algorithms many people are seeing their reach shrink.
With the changing landscape of social media you have to constantly adjust. In 2020, for example, there was the introduction of Reels. I didn't get on it immediately and I should have, so it is a part of my marketing strategy going forward in 2021.
Who do you look up to in the entrepreneurial space?
I love Brit. I stalk her on Instagram and she is always doing something positive. I would say Heidi Zak from ThirdLove and Rebecca Minkoff, too. Some smaller brands I follow are Clever Girl Finance, started by a woman named Bola Sokunbi. She's been featured in Forbes and CNBC and was on a panel with the New York Times. What I admire about her is that she literally started from a blog and YouTube videos and has expanded her business to really impact the way women invest and manage their money.
What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
A lot of people get stuck at the idea stage. I always recommend getting into a free business plan class. There are so many of them now, and doing one thing every day that can really shift the progress of your business. In 30 days you'll look back and say "Oh my gosh I accomplished so much!" Thirty days turns into six months turns into a year. Just take one step at a time.
How do you stay motivated?
Honestly, I pray a lot. I meditate. I'm trying to listen to a lot of business podcasts for my own mindset and for remaining positive.
What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
I started my business while still in the industry but I kept thinking I needed MORE experience and MORE this, that — it was an excuse to procrastinate out of fear. I mentor different entrepreneurs now at the Brooklyn Women's Business Center and I tell them to start small. If you want to bake and package cookies, take a month and look into your packaging, what will that look like? I think the myth of entrepreneurship surrounding all these tech founders launching their million dollar brands is damaging. That's not the norm. It's really the exception, so you should really just get out there and get started as soon as you can to test the product and to begin to learn because you really only learn through experience.
Thanks Camille!Follow Camille and Pop Up Plus on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest.
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