Navigating the Closets of Plus-Size Professional Women
(Washington, DC) The Curvy CEO website is very clear about it’s purpose from the moment you see the front page: The Life and Style guide for the Plus-Size Professional Woman. The vibrant site offers everything from advice about which stores best cater to plus sizes to Curvy CEO products and personal styling services. It’s a true one-stop-shop, dedicated to serving an underserved community in the retail market.
The Curvy CEO was founded by an anonymous Washington, DC lobbyist with a passion for style. While general clothing options for plus-sized women are improving, the options are more often in trendy, younger styles. The Curvy CEO provides practical style solutions for the working woman, promoting body positivity and professionalism. Au’loni Magazine was fortunate enough to catch the anonymous founder for a moment, to discuss the motivations, difficulties, and triumphs of her business experience.
AM: What influenced your decision to remain anonymous?
CC: I made the decision to be anonymous because, to begin: I work in politics. I didn’t want this venture to interfere with my professional career- not that it would be bad, but I have to be very careful about not making any statements that could be construed as political.Honestly,the most political things I write are about the First Lady’s fashion, and that’s always complimentary! I also wanted more freedom of expression, which I have with anonymity. I used to think that being anonymous was annoying, but I value the freedom of being able to say what I want, more.
AM: How did you come up with the idea for The Curvy CEO?
CC: I’ve been plus-sized for my adult life and I made a decision around the tail-end of law school. I said, “When I lose weight, I will dress better,” but then I had an accident. At that point, I said “No more waiting for the future. I will celebrate the body I have now!”
I was always interested in fashion. The plus-size fashion industry was limited, though it is much better than before. I had to piece together a professional wardrobe. Most plus-sized blogs catered to younger people. I kept waiting for someone to create a plus-sized blog focusing on professional clothing… Then I said, “Wait, why don’t I do it?”
Even among my friends, I was the one to go to if one of them wanted, say, a high-waisted skirt. I knew where to get one. I’m not one of those super trendy fashion girls. My style is pretty classic. Unfortunately, for so many plus-sized women, they don’t even have “classic” down. They just have clothes for function, not fashion. I want to help them dress stylishly for today. Just because you may be trying to get to a weight goal, doesn’t mean you can’t look nice in the interim!
So, style was something I was already already interested in. When I saw that styling classes were being offered locally in DC, I signed up for thirty-two hours of coursework with the School of Style out of New York. It was a significant investment of time and money, but the School does a great job teaching the basics of how to style someone and also how to own a business.
AM: How long has this idea been in the works?
CC: We actually just celebrated our third blog anniversary, and the ideas are continuing to develop! For example, I’m not just blogging anymore, but selling. Recently I worked with several other bloggers in the area to co-host a shopping party, selling gently- used (or, as I like to call it “pre-loved”) clothing. We will also offered beauty services and jewelry. (You can read all about the event here: http://www.curvyceo.com/2014/11/11/shopaholics-suite-success.)
I’ve also organized a plus-sized workout class called Work Your Curves by partnering with various trainers. There is a often a fear factor involved with going to traditional gym, for plus sized women. With this specific class, there is built in accountability, making the ladies more likely to follow through.
AM: What, if any, hardships have you faced, in the development of your business?
CC: You can definitely get discouraged pretty easily, because you don’t necessarily know if you’re being heard. Some blogs have tons of comments and ‘likes’ on Facebook. My readership tends to be very quiet. I see people coming to the blog everyday, but they don’t comment! I subscribe to various blogging networks that give advice on how to improve reader engagement, but my readers are still very quiet. I’ve come to accept that that’s who they are, and sometimes you have to do that, and roll with the punches.
I had a moment last summer. I said, “forget this” and was ready to shut it all down. I made a declaration that I was going to dial back my efforts because I was so sick of spending time on it, when it seemed that no one was listening. Then, I received an invitation for the blog to be featured in The Washingtonian, a widely-read publication that I love, and that made me feel better.
There was another instance during that time that really reaffirmed why I was blogging in the first place. I had friends contact me saying, “Hey, people are posting on your work on Facebook and they don’t even know that its you!” That was a real turning point for me.
AM: How have you been able to overcome these challenges?
CC: The events that occurred after I made the decision and declaration I discussed earlier. I saw them as a divine intervention. God saw me and gave me a boost of confidence! That little nudge of confidence made me believe that it’s worth pursuing. Thinking of that makes it less hard on nights when I’m staying up late, blogging.
AM: What advice do you have for other interested in your line of work?
CC: I definitely think you want to start before you’re ready. Give yourself deadlines.
I didn’t know how I wanted to start, so I went to The Blogging School with the founder of HappyBlackWoman.com. Her awesome business teaches a six week course about how to blog. My goal was that by the time the class was over, I was going to start. Each homework assignment was to complete a piece of my website (make an about page, a domain name, etc) so that by the time six weeks was up, I had website! It was an investment, but it was worth it because it got me started. If you wait for the perfect time, you’ll never get started.
Secondly, unless you have a lot of capital saved, you definitely don’t want to quit your day job. I, personally, will always have day job. I like a regular paycheck and benefits. But, I also love the idea of having something thats mine, that I own. Even if you want to go full-time with your business, it is wise to try and do it part-time on your own time for awhile. There are definitely things that I tried that weren’t received as well as I thought they would be. Had I put all my eggs into one basket, I would have really struggled. So, I’m definitely a fan of the “side hustle.”
AM: What are some of your short term and long term goals for the Curvy CEO?
CC: In the short term, I want to build my readership. I don’t know what is considered a good/bad number of readers but I want to grow my readership to get my words out there because I know that I have strong content. ln the long term, of course, I want to make money! I would love to have the blog produce a reliable stream of decent income. I’m at the point where whatever I make, I put back into it. I use the money from the blog to pay for another webinar series or to buy equipment to improve the site. I’d really love it to get enough money to pay larger, “real life” bills.
The Curvy CEO’s resiliency and determination to develop her skills for the sake of her business are essential for effective entrepreneurship. We applaud the founder for her tireless efforts to serve professional, plus-sized women, and for taking the initiative in identifying and providing resources to a noticeably underserved audience.
Readers in the Washington DC area may attend Curvy CEO events, while readers everywhere can connect with the Curvy CEO online in the following ways:
BLOG – http://www.curvyceo.com
EMAIL – firstname.lastname@example.org
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/curvy_ceo
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/CurvyCEO
GOOGLE+ – https://plus.google.com/+CurvyCEO/posts
PINTEREST – http://www.pinterest.com/curvy_ceo/
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/curvy_ceo
YOUTUBE – www.youtube.com/TheCurvyCEO