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 Depot collaboration, 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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Getting the word out about your brand takes time, drive, and ingenuity. And it doesn't come easy for many entrepreneurs. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're chatting with Selfmade alum Taylor Morgan McPherson, founder of Sustainable Sparkle Bar, about ways in which she scored press as a solo startup brand and what she learned from Selfmade to take her brand marketing up a notch.
B + C: How did you know Sustainable Sparkle Bar was your business to start?
Glitter has always been my thing, so when I started my event company I decided to make it my niche. I started telling people I threw glitter-themed parties where people would get sparkled with glitter body art and makeup. Six months after that I applied to my first festival and to work with SUR restaurant in West Hollywood.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
I honestly can't say that I've had a specific strategy that I've followed when it comes to getting my business off the ground. I have a PR background so I was just constantly pitching new business and posting on social media.
B + C: What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
I would say creating a stable income and revenue stream. With a seasonal, event-based business it can be very up and down.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
The relationships I made and the push to start an email database.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I love what I do and I believe in myself 100%. Staying motivated isn't the hard part. Pushing myself to do the work and staying accountable is the hard part.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip? Do you use any apps that help you manage your business?
I keep multiple to-do lists, hand-written and digital. I also tell clients and partners that I will have something to them by a certain time or day so I have to stick to it.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Just do it, take the leap. And don't worry about what anyone else says to thinks.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Issa Rae, I'm so inspired by everything that she's created being a creative and a black woman. It's my dream to have my own show one day based on my life and where I give advice and talk about the world. She's doing it and making people laugh and giving people joy. And it's based in LA. Watching Insecure only further cemented my dreams of wanting to live in LA.
B + C: How did you hear about the Office Depot scholarship?
One of my friends that I met through Camp No Counselors saw an IG ad for it and nominated me.
B + C: What has receiving the scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start/grow your business?
It's completely helped me level up and take my business to another level. Selfmade helped me host my first virtual event and taught me how to set up my website to sell tickets to events and get RSVPs.
B + C: How have Office Depot services or products helped you accomplish more in your business?
I got new cards to send in all of my orders with my discount code on them. I also bought a really cool 4K camera that I now use for my social media.
Let Office Depot OfficeMax help you stand out in the crowd. From signs, posters & banners to promote your business, to marketing materials to keep your customers informed, Office Depot OfficeMax offers a full suite of business services & solutions to help you & your business get noticed.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.