She started out as a cashier in 1985 but now Ann-Marie Campbell is at the top of the ladder at Home Depot. On Feb. 1, Campbell became the executive vice president of all of the company’s stores in the United States.
Campbell, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, graduated from Georgia State University and has a degree in philosophy and an MBA. As executive VP, Campbell will serve as president of the southern division, and is in charge of 2,000 stores and most of the company’s nearly 400,000 employees.
Campbell has received accolades from Black Enterprise and was named one of the 75 Most Powerful Women in Business by Black Enterprise, in 2010. She was also named one of Atlanta’s 100 Top Black Women of Influence by the Atlanta Business League in 2012 and in 2014 she was ranked #38 on Fortune‘s list of 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.
It is a time old scenario, college girl meets hot guy, girl gets asked out on a date, girls goes to the mall and is unable to find anything to wear, as a result, girl creates her own business.
This is the true story of Camille Newman, founder of the online plus-size boutique PopUpPlus.com. Although the market of curvy women has gone largely ignored by the fashion world, today, this overlooked demographic is becoming increasingly popular and lucrative. According to Bloomberg, the plus-size industry is now valued at $17.5 billion. However, maverick and online entrepreneur Camille already knew the value of her curvy sisters and had her nose to the grindstone catering to this underserved market long before it became in vogue.
Eurweb had the pleasure to catch up with Camille Newman to discuss her online fashion boutique and why she feels most retailers are late guests to the curvy gal party.
Describe your background.
I graduated from college in 2002 with a liberal arts background. I have always had a love for fashion and I’ve always been curvy. I was actually on the path to a Ph.D. program, but I transitioned into corporate retail and moved back to New York City. I started out with Lane Bryant and since then for a number of companies for a long amount of time. I’ve been in fashion for almost 15 years [overseeing] store management, pricing strategy, planning and buying.
How did you come up with the ideas to start your business?
While in college, I met this cute guy and he asked me out for a date. My best friend and I went to the local mall and [we spent hours there]. I realized that I gained a lot of weight and I could not find anything to wear. I remember feeling terrible. It was a real blow to my self-esteem. I promised myself that no other girl that was my weight or heavier would ever feel like that. That is how my interest in the plus size industry started. I [thought of] a way to enter the industry with a low overhead and that’s how the idea for the pop up shop [was developed].
What are biggest misconceptions about plus-size women?
The biggest misconception is that we all have some insecurity, we overeat, and that we are unhappy and fat. A plus-size woman is a regular girl with some extra weight on. I’m saying we don’t have our challenges but I think our challenges [are increased] when you don’t see yourself being represented in the fashion industry. There are so many reasons why women gain weight. Many women have had children, they have issues with thyroids [which affects] a lot of African American women, which was my issue, it made me gain and keep the weight. I have met plus size women who are fashionable and taking style risk. Plus-size woman are have always been creative. I met a lady who tailored maternity wear. We have always been a creative group of fashionistas.
In your opinion, why these misconceptions continue to exist in our society?
On my Instagram, I will post a girl in a form fitting dress and people will have rude, nasty comments. “Oh my God look at her butt, yes she has shape wear on but why is she wearing that, [she should wear] something more flowing, [she should] cover [her] arms.” And the [July issue where] the Oprah Magazine article said that you can only wear a crop top if you have a flat stomach. I think we live in a society unfortunately, that fashion has been able to take over our minds and make you think that in order to be fashionable you have to be skinny, blonde, tall, and anorexic looking.
The reality is according to the United States Census 6 out of 10 women in the U.S. are a size 14 or larger. Yet, we allow the fashion industry to dictate our taste, but they shouldn’t be able to dictate what is good and real for a woman’s body. The fashion industry should not be allowed to perpetuate size-ism; they should not be allowed to make the majority of American woman feel bad about themselves.
Kunbi Tinuoye, former broadcast journalist and correspondent for the BBC, MSNBC and TheGrio.com, and current on-air contributor to Arise News’ business show Xchange, has recently launched UrbanGeekz.com, a groundbreaking digital news platform dedicated to African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities in technology, science and business. The site offers reviews, interviews, commentary, and original video on startups, geek gadgets, social media, scientific advancements, entrepreneurship and insight into Silicon Valley and the global technology industry. The cutting-edge online publication also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment content.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, UrbanGeekz.com, live only since February 9th of this year, has already partnered with telecom giant AT&T and Black Enterprise Magazine to provide content to and about the underserved communities in the tech space. The website also has created a much-needed outlet for dialogue on the most pressing and relevant issues in STEM-related fields: conversations surrounding the preparedness of students to pursue STEM careers, the lack of diversity in the STEM workforce and challenges facing minorities in the tech start-up scene.
Tinuoye, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Nigeria, was born, raised and educated in London. She graduated from Cambridge University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social and Political Sciences and later received a post-graduate diploma in print journalism. She is also an NCTJ qualified UK professional journalist.
Tinuoye began her career writing for the prestigious London newspaper, the Evening Standard. After stints there and with the BBC, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Atlanta and working for TheGrio.com and MSNBC as a journalist and on-air contributor.
Good Black News recently caught up with Tinuoye and got a chance to talk to this ambitious and intelligent entrepreneur about her journey, why she started UrbanGeekz, and her visions for African-Americans in tech in the near future:
Good Black News: What initially attracted you to journalism?
Kunbi Tinuoye: I’m a communicator – that’s just the core of my personality – I’m a people person. I’ve worked across most platforms, from television to print journalism. I enjoy every aspect of the media industry.
Which aspect of journalism do you like the most?
I started as a writer. Knowing how to write and tell a story is really the core. I say to aspiring journalists, “Make sure you learn how to write,” because once you can put together a well-crafted sentence and get to the crux of a story, then you’ve the ability to be a good journalist.
What made you decide to leave the United Kingdom for the United States?
Me and my husband came on holiday to Atlanta about seven years ago and we basically fell in love with the States. One of my husband’s friends relocated here and was living a comfortable life. Seeing how black professionals live in America, particularly in Atlanta, where you have the ability to work your way up the corporate ladder… I think it was that, the lifestyle and I thought there would be more opportunities for me here.
Do you prefer it here in America?
I absolutely love Atlanta. I feel like I found home. It feels like where I’m meant to be.
Do you have a different perspective on black issues in America being from a different country?
I probably do have a different perspective. For me, coming as an immigrant I feel that, and maybe specifically to Atlanta, which I think is a great place for black professionals, for me there seems to be a phenomenal amount of opportunity, but that’s from my perspective. I know race is a huge issue in America, I’m very aware of that – in London there’s racism as well – maybe at a slightly different level, but of course I’m aware of injustice and all of the issues going on, but at the same time I see America as the land of opportunity – that’s my perspective.
Your experience has spanned three countries – Nigeria through your parents, England and the United States. How do you identify?
K: What can I say… being Nigerian is very important to me, so I would identify as a British Nigerian. I’ve been in the States four years, and now it’s like home.
Why did you start UrbanGeekz?
I was at the Grio for close to four years and it was a phenomenal job. But I felt there was a gap in the market. There wasn’t a minority-led news platform tackling issues related to STEM and the technology industry, which as you know is an important space that’s going to become even more significant in the coming years. The other reason that sparked me to launch UrbanGeekz was when the big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, released their diversity stats and showed dismal numbers of African-Americans and women. I think that and the combination of just thinking we’re not covering these stories was the impetus.
Who do you consider your competition in the digital tech space?
I’ve got a huge vision for UrbanGeekz. I want the platform to compete with the big players like TechCrunch and the African-American and even the Latino digital news outlets as well. They aren’t my competition now because we’ve just started, but I hope to be at the same level further down the line.
What do you see as the near future for blacks and people of color in tech and science?
There’s been so much conversation about this right now. It’s a hot topic. Some of the big firms, including Intel and Apple,have made major announcements within the last year, [earmarking] money for underserved minorities and women. So I feel and I hope that people of color – and I say “people of color” because UrbanGeekz is a multi-cultural website – African-Americans of course, but I do want to include Latino market at some point and even Africans and Afro-Latinos as well – my hope is that particularly with the current discussion, people of color will become more and more involved in STEM and the tech space. Technology is important and when you look at the high-demand jobs of the future, many require STEM or tech skills. Underserved minorities and women need to have this skill set to level the playing field.
Are East Indians and Asians thought of as “people of color” in tech?
They are doing much better in tech. UrbanGeekz is for underrepresented communities in the technology industry.
Do you think there is enough awareness around disparity in the tech industry?
Before those diversity statistics were publicly released there wasn’t too much focus on the giant tech companies. But people like Reverend Jesse Jackson have been vocal and continued to put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Now the issue is a hot topic. It’s also about what kind of skills and jobs that will be in demand in the future. STEM skills are vital for career progression and the continued growth of the U.S. economy. These companies are the new Fortune 500 companies, the new GM [General Motors] or U.S. Steel.
Further down the line, Tinuoye and UrbanGeekz will be launching the UrbanGeekz 100, an annual list of underrepresented minorities making strides in science and technology. The handpicked list will culminate with an on-site exclusive awards gala honoring these dynamic leaders and influencers of color who have achieved success in their prospective industries.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that the way to success is to be a lifelong learner. From staying abreast on latest trends to reading up on tried-and-true strategy, leaders win by seeking knowledge. Here are five books that will help any entrepreneur do just that:
Written by Edward Lewis, co-founder of Essencemagazine, this book tells the story of how he started his company with three partners, eventually reaching and impacting millions of people with a landmark publication for women of color. He became the last man standing by the time it was sold to Time, Inc. Lewis details the motivation behind his drive to succeed, her personal triumphs and challenges and insights on management, startup strategy and perseverance through the ups and downs of the publishing world.
How to Succeed in Business Without Being White: Straight Talk on Making it in America by Earl G. Graves
In a society where white men dominate the top seats at major corporations, this book serves as motivation and mentorship for African-American innovators. Being one of the most prolific executives in business, Graves tells us his own story of how he became a multimillionaire, the director of several of America’s Fortune 500 corporations, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, how he built the legacy of Black Enterprise. The business icon touts: “Economic power is the key to success in a capitalistic society.”
Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun?: How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion-Dollar Business Empire By Reginald F. Lewis
Lewis’ first successful venture was his $22.5 million-leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Co., where he sold it for $65 million in 1987, and made an astounding 90 to 1 return on his original investment. He re-branded the corporation as TLC Beatrice International Inc. As the CEO and chairman, Lewis increased the company’s worth in rapid time,an with revenues of $1.5 billion, TLC Beatrice made it to the Fortune 500. It was also the first company on the Black Enterprise List of Top 100 African-American owned businesses. This book details how all of this happened and will inspire many bosses for generations to come.
Success Never Smelled So Sweet: How I Followed My Nose and Found My Passion by Lisa Price
Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, tells the story of her life, starting from the beginning with her childhood days in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the moment her business was created and how it bloomed. The innovator provides motivating and enticing stories and explains how she went from bankruptcy to grossing over $2 million yearly while working from home. Price believes that life will guide each and every one of us until we realize our own inner truth, regardless of the challenges we faced to reach to our destination. She also shares with us advice her mother gave her and recipes for her best-selling products.
Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of A Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins and Elizabeth Gardner Hines
A.G. Gaston was the grandson of slaves and was born penniless. At his death, he was worth more than $130 million and helmed several businesses. This is the story of his life through the eyes of his niece and grandniece. Gaston was determined to make a difference for African Americans during the time of slavery. When he passed away in 1996, he was one of the richest men in America. Black Titan is the story of a man who changed the future for all black businesspeople in our country.
Denise Nappier is the first African American woman elected to serve as a state treasurer in the United States and the first African American woman elected to a statewide office in Connecticut. Elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002, 2006, and 2010, Nappier is also the only woman to be elected treasurer in Connecticut history. Nappier oversees $52 billion in state funds, including the $25.9 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds and a $19 billion debt portfolio.