Our Ladyboss this week, Funmi Agbana, Founder, Curvy Girl Fashion, An Indigenous E-Commerce Brand That Specializes In Fast Fashion Retail For Plus Size Women All Over The World, took her experience working in the corporate world and applied it to business, How did she grow her business from being a side hustle to full time entrepreneurship? Dive In
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My Name is Funmi Agbana and I’m the founder of Curvy Girl Fashion. Before I started my Business in December 2017, I used to work in the Advertising Industry as a copywriter/content writer/digital marketer. My brand, Curvy Girl Fashion started out as a side hustle but the vision grew bigger! We’re an indigenous e-commerce brand that specialises in fast fashion retail for plus size women all over the world. We cater to the everyday clothing of plus size women ranging from Dresses, Jumpsuits, Pants, Jackets, Tops, Skirts, T-Shirts and a lot more.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you choose to be one?
Being a female entrepreneur is like being wounded in the sea; sharks are constantly circling to eat you. Many institutions and individuals are out to discredit your efforts and thwart your every move but still, we rise! What actually prompted me to become an entrepreneur aside my passion for fashion was to ensure that I make an impact in the lives of young women around me.
There are several things I wish I was told growing up, decisions I wouldn’t have made and companies I wouldn’t keep but through it all, God remained merciful and gracious. It breaks my heart to hear stories of how young women are subjected to arduous conditions because of basic stuff they can easily afford if only they had a job/trade and someone to put them on the right path and so I knew I had to make this not just a business but a ministry.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
Innovation is a continuous journey for us. At every step of the way, we’re researching ways to make our customers happier. We recently introduced the customisation option on all our designs for our clients because we understand that no two bodies are the same. This way, our customers can have a great fit with their clothes regardless of their height and body type.
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
I would attribute my success so far to Grit, Grace and consistency but more importantly to the grace of God. Curvy Girl Fashion would be 1 by December 1st and there have been days when I wanted to throw in the towel because I’m uncertain and flustered by the challenges but Gods’ grace has kept me going regardless.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
I believe challenges are gender agnostic but a female entrepreneur is constantly being held under society’s biased microscopic lens. Her decisions, business skills are always in question. Is she capable? Why can’t she be like the rest and just submit? She’s not supposed to have so much power! These are some of the things we get to face on a regular because we live in a patriarchal society. You know, society likes to put you into a box and so if you don’t meet up to the expectations of society, you’re labelled an outlier. Female entrepreneurs are shattering glass ceilings and not trying to fit into a glass slipper and society isn’t excited about this and this makes me happy!
What values and principles have helped you so far?
I’m faced with tough decisions every other day that test my patience and character but no matter your social status, I must always validate other’s dignity by showing respect, live and be authentic by choosing honesty at all times and show gratitude for everything and everyone in my life. These values guide me and shape my priorities and reaction. They keep me grounded and disciplined regardless.
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
I grew up in a middle-class home so I didn’t have the luxury of travelling or shopping abroad to buy the clothes I admired in magazines or online so I had to make do with what was available close to me. Whenever I saw a piece of clothing I liked, I would ensure I walked the length and breadth of the market to get it in my size or something similar. This came naturally to me because I’m a shopaholic. Then I began to notice other plus size women around me and on my social media would ask me where I got my clothes from. It then actually dawned on me that there was indeed a dearth of sophisticated, affordable and modern clothing for plus size women. This lit a light bulb in my head and I started sourcing for plus size clothing from the local markets to resell but it wouldn’t come in all sizes.
The outfits in the affordable range for bigger women were drab, dowdy and very unappealing. I went back to the drawing board and devised a solution to make the clothes here in Nigeria and export to other countries and so, Curvy Girl Fashion was birthed.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
I think the number one would be the erratic power supply! Productivity would triple if we had steady power supply in Nigeria. There’s also the pain of RELIABLE tailors and the heartache they come with.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
In 5 years, we want to be a global e-commerce fast fashion plus size brand with production units in 2-3 geopolitical zones to contribute to national development.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
Be book smart and street smart. Don’t measure your success with another person’s ruler; if it seems like you’re taking long to bloom, learn the lesson your current phase is teaching so you can have the blessing. Also, you must believe in yourself even when people around you don’t. Have faith and always have a positive outlook towards life.
The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.