All of which means finding the right fit is harder than ever, said Camille Newman, the founder of Pop up Plus, a plus-sized fashion startup that won the Brooklyn Public Library’s PowerUP! business plan competition.
“I saw there was such a void for stylish clothing for plus-sized women,” said Newman, who was born in Jamaica and came to Brooklyn as a teen. “What I wanted to do was create an exceptional shopping experience for them.”
Last September, Newman, herself a plus-sized shopper, launched Pop up Plus in a small space in Williamsburg. The store was only open for two weeks, but generated serious buzz, thanks to clothes from an Atlanta designer and unusual perks like a cocktail party and spa treatment to go along with purchases over $100.
“It caught on really well,” Newman said.
After settling in Canarsie, Newman won a scholarship to attend Oberlin College, where she made the kind of connections that would help later in life. When she returned to Brooklyn, Newman recruited college friends to help get her small business dream off the ground.
It took years of planning, but seems poised to take off, thanks in part to the PowerUP! competition, which comes with a $15,000 grand prize. The Brooklyn Public Library program, designed to promote entrepreneurialism, hands out $25,000 in prize money each year.
In the coming year, Newman plans to open four or five Pop up Plus boutiques around Brooklyn; she has her eye on neighborhoods like Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Williamsburg, among others.
If all goes well, Newman hopes to expand to other cities, and perhaps open a permanent store, probably in Brooklyn. “Even though I wasn’t born here Brooklyn is in my heart,” said Newman, who lives in Clinton Hill. “We’re really building this as a grassroots type of venture. I’m really excited to move forward.”