“Necessity is the mother of invention”, said some wise sage and I couldn’t agree more. This is not a story of some high tech gizmo that consists of parts we cannot pronounce, powered by fuels yet to be discovered…no. It’s a simple idea that was borne out of desperation, demand and confidence. Meet Erumu Odiete and Latasha Ngwube, the organizers of what has become THE fashion/lifestyle shopping part for the plus size woman, aptly named PopUpPlus!
For those already tapped into popular culture, the concept of pop up markets are not new but with so much diversity and social groups, creating events for niche demographics have become a more effective way of catering to a specific audience. Interviewing both women on their roles in this interesting collaboration certainly disproves the theory that women cannot work with each other but I’d let you be the judge of that…
What inspired the idea for PopUpPlus?
A lot of plus sized ladies always walked up to me to ask where I got what I was wearing. It occurred to me that it was quite difficult for people of our size to find where to buy trendy clothes. So I decided to start a pop up that catered to only curvy women.
What would you say has changed in the plus size industry from when you started the first edition PopUpPlus and now four editions down the line?
I think more ladies are more confident to come out and identify with this. At first it was always shaky and even with the designers and vendors. More designers are adding size 18 and above to their lines as it’s pretty obvious this is a huge market
What was the reception and turn out for the first ever PopUpPlus like?
Surprisingly it was a very good turn out. I actually did not expect that many people to show up. Most importantly, the vendors were happy.
How would you say PopUpPlus has impacted the Nigerian plus size community?
I think for one it has created more awareness of the needs of plus size ladies and also created an avenue for plus size designers and vendors to come out. Most importantly Pop Up Plus has helped in recognising the need to pay more attention to the plus sized community
How did the idea of partnering with Latasha Lagos come about?
Well, Latasha is a confident plus sized woman who is comfortable in her skin, so it’s a no-brainer to partner with her but most importantly a lot of people look up to her because she’s stylish and confident.
PopUpPlus is one with this edition come August 28, how will you be celebrating?
Party!!!!!! We are extremely grateful for the people that have supported us, the shoppers, the vendors and people in general. So we are celebrating by giving back and thanking God
If you could do your first edition over again, would you do anything different?
I honestly can’t think of anything.
The website is PopUpPlusAfrica.com …is that indicative of something that you would like to expand on?
I would definitely like to do more especially in creating accessibility for plus size shopping.
How did you first hear about PopUpPlus?
I’ve known Erumu from our days back in University of Lagos and we had always had a good relationship. In 2014, she reached out to me with an idea to start a plus size fashion business but I don’t think it was meant to be as that didn’t even germinate much less take flight but we stayed in touch. By 2015 July, Aboutthatcurvylife was born but existed solely as an Instagram account. She reached out again and this time with the idea of PopUpPlus. I was stoked about it and happy to come on board as a major media partner because it made perfect sense in thought and timing. By the third installment of the event this year, we talked again and she asked me to join the brand as partner and the rest is history.
Business partnerships are never really a walk in the park, how do guy sort things out when it comes to decision making?
Erumu and I have totally different dispositions which is super. She is calm, patient and soft where I’m a restless, impatient bull. I usually give in to her wishes because she is so lovable and sweet which I completely admire. She also has an events co-ordination company while I’m in media…Hello? Perfect marriage! So we have our designated duties for the event that really allow each person to shine and I’m grateful for that.
In your own words, how has PopUpPlus influenced the Nigerian Plus size industry?
I know that we have created a “safe” haven for women who would not necessarily show up to shopping events. It does not come more purpose-built than this; we literally created this so that vendors of plus side fashion and lifestyle merchandise can sell to plus size women. They now have a space where every quarter, they can come and meet others who look like them and understand their frustrations and needs. No more fear of being scorned or sniggered at when your size isn’t on the rack. Everyone wants a tribe to belong to and we have been able to help gather that together. Plus fashion brands all know each other now, mingle and share ideas. We have built an ecosystem that is growing daily and that is something beautiful to watch.
As the founder of www.aboutthatcurvylife.com is there ever a conflict of interest with both brands?
Not at all. I know it is the perfect marriage because at the end of the day we want the same things but both brands have very clear visions about their paths. Aboutthatcurvylife is a media vehicle with creative enterprises and a need to inform, educate and entertain from a curvy point of view while PopUpPlus is a commercial vehicle dealing with businesses, understanding their challenges and helping them get closer to their target clientele.
PopUpPlus turned one on the 28th of August so moving forward, what’s on the cards?
The anniversary event was sponsored by Dear Curves, a U.K. based plus fashion brand and it was a huge success. We certainly look forward to more collaborations with brands like that who are all about growth and vision. There’s a whole lot more in the works that’s too hot to handle! Even I can’t wait but I’d say this…think travel, think Pan-African, think global! We are going to change the commercial side of plus fashion and lifestyle and that’s a true story.
As a pioneer in the Nigerian plus size industry, what aspirations do you have for the industry?
To make a gazillion dollars and give half of it away? Lol! I would like to see in my time, a Nigeria and by extension, Africa, that is accepting of all body types. Where people can blossom and reach full potential without judgement and poor morale. Where your body type does not determine the outcome of your story. Integration, inclusion, body positivity, self love, fashion and confidence are words I would like to see added to every curvy woman and chunky man’s lexicon. I want to build something bigger than me (no pun intended) that outlives me and die knowing I made a difference that really counted.
Click HERE to see pictures from PopUpPlus’s Anniversary party
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