We’re excited to shine a spotlight on Sarah Chiwaya of Curvily, a plus-size fashion blog and Instagram channel. As a blogger myself, I was eager to get Sarah’s perspective on what she calls a ‘media diet,’ a peek into her closet (or fitting room—more on that later!), and to learn how she turned her side-hustle passion project into a full-time career.
Scroll below for the full interview, plus Sarah’s favorite design-friendly Deskpass spaces across Manhattan and Brooklyn.
How did you get into content creation?
I actually started my blog at the very end of 2012, so I’ve been doing it for awhile. I started it very much as a hobby. I had a full time career that was something completely different and I just did it because I saw the power of plus size representation.
I have always loved fashion since I was a child. I would go to the library and check out issues of Vogue magazine and whatever I could get my hands on. I loved looking at the editorials and seeing how outfits were styled.
When I hit puberty, my weight started fluctuating. All of a sudden I couldn’t see myself in fashion anymore. And so, that dream kind of died with that because I wasn’t seeing bodies that looked like mine. I was like, this is something that I can kind of appreciate at an arms-length, but it’s not actually for me.
So, what changed?
In late 2012, I discovered plus size fashion blogs. I didn’t even know they existed before that. I started following a bunch of these bloggers and without realizing it, the way I was viewing my own body began to change.
I had a moment of epiphany, when I went back and looked at my wedding photos. When I first looked at them, I thought they were beautiful. Everyone looked great; I looked fat. All I could do was pick myself apart and say “oh my God, I have a double chin from smiling so hard.”
So, four months later, when I looked at those same photos again, I didn’t notice my weight. I saw myself as being happy and marrying this amazing person.
Tell us a bit about the early days of your business. How did you start finding your online community?
There were very few people with blogs like mine at the time. Seeing the bloggers out there who were already creating content really inspired me to do the same, but in a way that felt true to me. To be part of this community was really powerful and important to me.
It started as a hobby and then, years later in September of 2017, I finally decided to leave my job and do this full time. It had built up to the point where it was an actual, functional business and I value being able to reach people and impact them in a positive way.
How has the blogging landscape changed since you started?
Unlike when I started, most of my work these days is through Instagram, specifically through Stories.
I do this thing where I go into fitting rooms to try clothes on and talk about the fit in real-time. It’s literally me and my phone talking to a mirror and the outfits; what I like or don’t like about the piece. Brands love it because it shows how their items will fit on a person with my frame.
What does a typical day at the office look like for you?
I split my time between working at home and working at a coworking space and for me, sometimes it’s just nice to be around people, even if I’m not talking to them. Plus, the spaces are so nice and many offer other perks like free coffee and phone booths. It’s really refreshing to have a quiet, professional place to make a call and not have to do it outside a cafe.
Since I often have meetings or events in Soho or the Financial District, I find it helpful to choose a space that is within walking distance. Or, if there’s a restaurant I love or want to check out, I’ll look for a coworking space in that neighborhood. Deskpass is super convenient in that sense.
Are there any Deskpass spaces you really love?
VillageOne Space in Soho has a really good vibe to it. it feels comfortable and warm and welcoming. I’ve had some great conversations with people there. They allow dogs, which was always really good for me; I’m very much a dog person. It’s also very convenient if you have meetings, and in my line of work, so many brands are based here in New York. Sometimes I just sit and watch the sun setting over the Soho rooftops. It’s gorgeous.
I also really love Nomadworks. It’s open later than some other spaces and it’s located in the garment district, which is convenient for meetings. It has a nice, clean, modern look and there are lots of good places to sit. I switch it up between a desk and a couch and like having that flexibility.
Then, in Brooklyn I love The New Work Project. It’s clean and modern and with these skylights that are just beautiful.