An Interview with Curvy Chic Closet Founder, Becky Jarvis
By Guest Writer Emma Medeiros
FabUplus Magazine: Why did you create Curvy Chic Closet?
Becky Jarvis: I created Curvy Chic Closet in 2011 because I saw a need for plus size individuals to have access to gently used and new plus size clothing. Being a mom, I attended children’s consignment pop-up events as a seller and shopper. Then a light bulb went on and I wondered why there wasn’t a plus size consignment pop-up event in the United States, especially since plus size fashion is now a $22 Billion industry with over 68% of the American women wearing a size 14 or larger.
FabUplus Magazine: How has it evolved since its inception?
Becky Jarvis: When I started, I had around 40 sellers with approximately 2,000 items in an 1,800 square foot building. I just finished my Fall 2020 event this past week and we had over 20,000 consigned items in a 40,000 square foot building. We have grown tremendously and Curvy Chic Closet is now North America’s largest plus size consignment pop-up event, held twice a year in the metro area of Portland, OR, with a community of shoppers that come mainly from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.
We started our fashion show in 2013 with 1 designer and 6 models because Curvy Chic Closet wanted to show that fashion is for “every body”. We now have the largest plus size fashion show on the west coast and it’s become much more than just a fashion show. It has given our models (who range in ages from 12 to 65; youth, women, big and tall men, with all abilities and all heights) confidence to believe in themselves and inspire others. To see our models overcome bullying for being plus size and 14-year-old models acting as peer mentors to other teens is so inspiring!
Then, in 2018, we created the Curvy Chic Closet Foundation (https://ccc.foundation/) with a mission to empower and inspire plus size individuals to be their best selves by teaching them to overcome body obstacles and develop strong, body-positive advocacy for all. The Foundation has hosted “You Are Enough” empowerment workshops for teens and adults twice a year and has helped individuals attend body positive events in the Pacific Northwest and United States.
FabUplus Magazine: What challenges have you faced over the years since then?
Becky Jarvis: Finding a location for short-term lease twice a year. We are always on the look-out for a building with 15,000 square feet or more, lots of parking and accessibility for all. One year, about 2 months before my event, I received a call that the lease got cancelled because the public fairgrounds building had been deemed unsafe on the same day when my 10,000 postcards had arrived in the mail! I scrambled and found another building that worked out even better. Whew!
Of course, the next biggest challenge is the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused us to cancel our Spring 2020 event. Challenges can be overcome with lots of patience.
FabUplus Magazine: How does the consignment process usually work and how did you have to change it to meet the new safety regulations of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Becky Jarvis: Our sellers register via our website (www.curvychiccloset.com) to obtain a seller number and have access to our consignment software. They then input their items, print and attach their seller tags to the items, and bring them for inspection the week of the event. It is a very simple process.
In our area, the biggest changes are social distancing requirements and that facial coverings are mandatory inside all buildings. Thankfully, we were able to meet these conditions to keep our community safe.
FabUplus Magazine: Since the economic downturn, have more people wanted to consign their clothes?
Becky Jarvis: Oh, absolutely. People had time when COVID-19 hit to clean out their closets and most individuals, myself included, have had items in their closets that they have not worn in years. Oregon has always been very eco-friendly and conscious about sustainability so we had over 20,000 plus size clothing garments, shoes, purses and accessories that were consigned for our fall pop-up. For our shoppers, it is also an opportunity to try on garments from different brands.
FabUplus Magazine: What challenges did you experience when producing this year’s runway show?
Becky Jarvis: This year’s runway show was very challenging. We had finalized our designers, models and spring date when COVID-19 hit and some of our models had already done fittings for the spring show. After that was cancelled, we scheduled 8 different outdoor (to uphold social distancing regulations) filmings during the summertime, crossing our fingers that it wouldn’t rain, with 45 models and 8 production team members. At our last filming, one designer had been exposed to COVID and had to quarantine for two weeks, then we had massive fires throughout the entire state in September, creating the worst air quality in the entire world, making us scramble to find an indoor location for filming at the last minute that also met state requirements for keeping everyone safe.
FabUplus Magazine: If you have to take next spring’s Curvy Chic Closet virtual, what would you do differently? The same?
Becky Jarvis: Our Curvy Chic Closet Foundation Spring Fashion Show will probably be virtual again. As with any event, there is always room for improvement. Our production team will be looking for new filming locations and designers who specialize in plus fashions (size 14 and up) from across the country.
FabUplus Magazine: What are some survival skills you’d recommend other event hosts learn, especially those just starting out during these difficult times?
Becky Jarvis: As an event producer, you must be flexible, organized and build a strong team. Every event is a new experience and there are always things that can be improved upon. Find a system that works for you to track all the event details. People are your strongest asset. My favorite quote is from Maya Angelou; “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make sure you take the time to thank them.
FabUplus Magazine: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Becky Jarvis: The Curvy Chic Closet Foundation will be recruiting designers who specialize in plus size designs (sizes 14-32) in January 2021 for our Spring 2021 Fashion Show so please check http://www.curvychiccloset.com/ for details then and connect with us anytime at the links below!
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