Precious Williams likes to dream BIG. Three years ago, she took a risk and entered a series of pitch competitions to see if she could fund her idea for a lingerie business aimed specifically at curvy women. It worked. Today she’s juggling multiple roles — CEO of Curvy Girlz, self-employed attorney and occasional actress — and scheming up her next big goal: to turn Curvy Girlz into a million dollar business.
Name: Precious L. Williams, Esq.
Job: Owner of Curvy Girlz
Tell us the story behind starting Curvy Girlz.
I grew up watching Perry Mason and dreamed of becoming an attorney, so I went to law school and eventually set up my own firm. With that goal achieved, I set my sights even higher and resolved to become the best entrepreneur of all time. There aren’t many celebrated African American entrepreneurs out there. People talk about Oprah and Bob Johnson, but they’re 20 years older than me and I want to show the world how it’s done. The idea for Curvy Girlz came to me five years ago. I weighed 327 pounds and was dating a guy who loved big girls and sexy lingerie. I couldn’t find anything sexy enough in my size, so I decided to start a company that celebrated the beauty of curvy women every day.
He passed away a few years ago, but his love for me transformed me. I’m a quirky individual and I’m chubby — I’m a size 16 and I have stretch marks. But he made me see that the things people think are wrong about me are fine, and that all the things people think are ridiculous about me are what make me successful. Why? Because I stand out. It’s great to be able to look in the mirror everyday and say, “Yeah, you’ve got it going on.”
I wrote the business plan for Curvy Girlz over a period of two and a half months when I was unemployed, had overdrafts on four accounts and had been evicted from my apartment.
When I finished my business plan, I entered 14 pitch competitions for investment and won 13, securing $150,000 to start my company with.
No matter how I feel offstage, when it comes to the pitch — I always kill it.
Who was your very first customer?
I found my first customers at Circle of Sisters — a famous African American trade show in New York. And there were a lot of them! That day, I sold $10,000 of lingerie in eight hours. Immediately, I knew I was on to something big.
When did you know your business was going to work?
I was honored to be named CNN’s entrepreneur of the month in June of 2015. After that, people started looking at me differently. CNN recognizing who I am has been amazing — knowing that people can see what I’m doing and that they understand my goals is an incredible feeling. I also just came back from shooting a movie in LA where I play a business woman, which really made me feel like I’d made it! The reason I got that opportunity (the reason anyone knows me at all!) is my lingerie. My job is to make other curvy women feel sexy because we’re often told we’re not, and they like that.
What has been the biggest surprise in starting your own business?
Initially, I thought only younger women would buy from me. I’ve learned over time that my best customers are actually between 35 and 55 years old. My business model might have something to do with it — I sell a lot of lingerie at home parties, which are really popular with that age group.
How do you price your products?
My lingerie sets cost between $60 and $80, but I’m adding more expensive lines soon. I use a basic formula of charging two-and-a-half times my costs, and so far it’s working out well. I’ve kept my prices the same since the beginning, but I’m about to launch a new website with slightly different pricing, so we’ll see how that goes!
What does a typical day look like for you?
None of my days are the same because I run three very different companies, so that’s a very hard question to answer! I have a law practice, a public speaking company and Curvy Girlz, so I might be in court one morning and mailing packages the next. Sometimes I might have three cases to look at in one day, and that has to take priority because it’s immediate. I make time to fit Curvy Girlz in around my legal work because it’s fun. I get to look at sexy underwear every day and meet with stylists and clients from all over. I work all the time. Sometimes this means waking up to answer phone calls and respond to emails throughout the night. When I do have down time, I love to hang with my girlfriends, go to brunch or dinner and take in a Broadway show.
If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you’d do differently when starting your business?
I would have asked family and friends for investment first before looking elsewhere. I was struggling and needed help, but I just assumed that no one else had any money either. Since they’ve seen how well I’ve done, some have said “You could’ve asked me!” I now know that I should have allowed them into my life and showed them my business plans while I was at those early stages.
What’s next for you and for Curvy Girlz?
My ultimate dream is to host a nationally syndicated talk show and become an entertainment mogul. I’ve written a lot of reality shows and screenplays, so when it comes to speaking and writing, I know what I’m doing. Curvy Girlz is more than just a promotional tool for me though — last year we sold $360k worth of lingerie. There are over 40 million women that are size 14 or over in the US who, just like me, want pretty underwear. No matter what happens in my future, I’ll always keep the business running because women need it.
What would you like to learn today from a network of small business owners and self-employed professionals?
Coaching is key to my business success. My coach helps me understand where my business sits and points out things that I can’t see. My long term goal is to turn Curvy Girlz into a billion dollar company and to become a global phenomenon. But first, I need to turn it into a million dollar company!
Does anyone here have any advice on how to do that? What are the steps I’d need to take to avoid hitting a black hole when it comes to growth?
Can you help Precious out?
What are the key steps she needs to take in order to turn her business into a million dollar enterprise?
Precious is ready to set her next long-term goals for Curvy Girlz — and she could use your help.
If you have a story to share when it comes to growing a business without bottoming out, share it below!
Referenced By: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/community/Member-stories/Turning-Big-Dreams-into-Even-Bigger-Goals-Meet-Lingerie/ba-p/279