There aren’t many places where plus size trend setters can find hip, luxury clothing inspired by today’s runway trends. Thanks to Pop Up Plus, plus size fashionistas can indulge in clothing designed by some of their favorite designers. Pop Up Plus is for the shopper in you!
Started by Camy Newman in 2010, Pop Up Plus has been embraced since day one because of its ability to give plus size women a private shopping space to call her own.
This weekend Pop Up Plus returns to New York City. To kick off their return they are hosting an Opening Night Party on September 23rd from 6pm-11pm. Then the shopping begins!
Before you go shopping, find out the inspiration behind Pop Up Plus, Camy’s journey and what she wants all plus size shoppers to know about the fashion industry.
How did you get into the plus size business?
I had been both entrepreneurial and curvy all my life. While in college I would read retail news daily and it was always clear that the plus size industry was a growing one and an industry with tremendous career opportunities. I went to college in Ohio, where the corporate offices of Lane Bryant are located. I met an executive from Lane Bryant and they suggested that I would be great in retail. I didn’t want to stay in Ohio so I became apart of the opening store team for the 34th st Flagship store in NYC. An Assistant Store Manager position was my first job in retail and I have been in retail ever since.
What was your inspiration for starting “Pop Up Plus”?
My inspiration for Pop Up Plus actually came to me when I was in a really low place. I was having some extreme medical issues unrelated to weight and I was forced to take a medical leave. Also family members around me were either sick or dying and it forced me to take a serious look at my life. I decided that it was time to stop “wanting” or “dreaming” of doing something. I decided it was time to just get up and go. I joined a business plan class in Brooklyn and the first business plan I wrote was for a boutique space. After I did the financial analysis with a loan officer and discovered that I would have to find $100k for the build out of the space and 6 months cash flow, the loan officer told me – it’s impossible- “You have to be rich”- and I wasn’t. I began doing research and came across a mobile store in Toronto Canada and a new phenomenon called “pop up” retail. I decided that I would be the first to do it for plus sizes and so Pop Up Plus was born.
What’s your favorite thing about being a business catering to plus size women?
What I love the most is when a customer tries on an outfit that she never had before and it works. I love the look on my customers faces when they are absolutely happy with an outfit. When you are shopping in one space and everything has the potential to fit- that is an indescribable feeling.
How does a “pop up” business work?
Let me start off by saying that a pop up is HARD WORK! I really didn’t understand what I was getting myself into. In addition to purchasing inventory a season ahead, we have to find spaces with landlords that are willing to give us temporary leases. We move into an empty eclectic space, we pop up racks and fitting rooms and anything else that will make the space comfortable. We mimic a boutique space. We stay in these spaces for 2 weeks at a time. We move out and it was almost like we weren’t even there – “now you see it, now you don’t.”
Have you ever thought about moving to a permanent location?
I am not sure how I feel about a permanent boutique space. I have thought of it, but the rent in NYC is astronomical and I am not sure how many of the boutiques currently open stay afloat. Maybe one day, and maybe even in another state.
What challenges have you been faced with in this industry?
Our biggest challenges have been getting the word out and competing for customer affection. Stores like Walmart, Target and Lane Bryant are our indirect competitors and customers come to us expecting the same prices and promotions that big stores have. We cannot compete. Smaller boutiques and independent designers have higher costs because we are not manufacturing thousands of pieces. If I could wave a magic wand and have customers understand that concept – it would be hugely helpful.
What inspires you to keep pushing?
God! I wake up most mornings thinking that I should probably change careers but after praying I feel encouraged. My family and friends are also a great support. I do also keep the dream of full time entrepreneurship in front of me. One day I will move on from doing this part time to full time!
What is one thing that you want to tell curvy shoppers?
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT BOUTIQUES AND DESIGNERS!!!!! I can’t say this enough. Contrary to popular opinion the choices in plus size are shrinking. Salon Z, for example, is moving their entire collection online. More and more plus size collections are moving online, however as curvy women we need and have the right to have a space where we can go and try on clothes.
Independent boutiques and designers are creating these safe spaces and must be supported. Now we have more options in terms of getting clothes from international vendors as well, and I’m not saying don’t support, but why is it that 6 out of 10 women are size 14 plus, yet when you walk in a mall there is maybe 1 store where they can go and shop. You have all these small size boutiques catering to 40% of the population and 60% of the population is left to shop online. I encourage curvy women SPEND THE MONEY, buy the clothes, support the designers and independent boutiques. Support Pop Up Plus!
Any plans to take “Pop up plus” to other states?
We just came back from DV/MD/VA and got such a warm reception that we will be heading back! We hope to grow to other east coast cities. We are seeking venture capital to expand our vision so we will see. Look Out- You will never know where Pop Up Plus will be next.