I’ve Been Stared At In Disbelief When I Introduce Myself

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I’ve Been Stared At In Disbelief When I Introduce Myself

Ojoma Idegwu – I have to clarify I am who I ‘claim’ to be

Ojoma, 37, is the founder of Dear Curves, a fashion label for plus-size women. She used to work on the shop floor in Topshop, but eventually took the plunge of starting her own fashion business

I must start off by making very clear how immensely proud I am of the colour of my skin. Having said that, I am all too aware of the challenges it presents.

Being a black entrepreneur in the UK for me means, in most instances, I have to work twice as hard to be in the same space as, and get the same opportunity as, my white colleagues. I’m genuinely made to feel like I have to prove myself again and again.

I’m dealing with consistent micro-aggressions, back-handed compliments from some white, key decision-makers in the fashion industry. And people say: “Oh Ojoma, I’m only joking, don’t take it so seriously!”

I’ve been stared at in disbelief [at business events], when I introduce myself as the owner of Dear Curves. From their reaction you can tell they didn’t expect to see a black person.

It’s almost like people are saying, “Did she miss the exit?” I’m often asked again, as if to clarify I am who I “claim” to be! It can end up with them walking away in embarrassment.

I wish there were more female fashion entrepreneur role models, to boost confidence.

These brands publicly ask you to send them a copy of your lookbook, but privately, they send you an email, talking about how “I’m not a right fit for their platform”.

https://www.bbc.com

The key problem with this is I’d not even sent them a copy of my lookbook yet!

This is what black-owned businesses like mine deal with. I’m tired of being used as a tool to publicly show how diverse these brands intend to be, but in reality they don’t mean any of the things they declare.

YouTube Cuts Off Shane Dawson’s Ad Money

Presentational grey line

Jamal Edwards – I used to feel like the outsider but the internet has made things easier

Jamal, 29, founded the online media company SBTV in 2007 in west London. It grew out of YouTube, with an emphasis on discovering new music artists, including Ed Sheeran and Dave. He was awarded an MBE in the 2015 New Year Honours list.

I’ve Been Stared At In Disbelief When I Introduce Myself

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