In general, by middle school, students realize teachers have lives outside of the classroom. At the university level, the same holds true.
Writing Center Assistant Director KC Culver is both a University of Miami professor and a businesswoman. In addition to her scholarly duties, she co-owns AboutCurves.com, a Web site on which she sells plus-size lingerie.
“I don’t hide it at all,” Culver said of her enterprise. “But I don’t go into class and say it either.”
About Curves offers approximately 300 products ranging from elegant silks to racy vinyls up to dress size 28.
The company was started by Culver and her mother, Robin, in 2001 when Culver realized she would not earn a satisfactory salary as a professor. Today, AboutCurves is the No. 2 Google search result for plus-size lingerie.
“I think that the business that we have does such an incredible thing for women,” Culver said. “Especially plus-size women who are often told by the media that they are fat or unattractive.”
As a voice of empowerment for plus-sized women, Culver and her mother began the business by attending trade shows. They contacted lingerie manufacturers to determine not only if they made lingerie in plus sizes, but if the designs were suitable for a plus-size figure.
Today, when the mother-daughter team can’t find suitable lingerie, they design pieces themselves.
“A lot of the manufacturers who made plus size lingerie just took some of the same styles and made it bigger.” Culver said. “It doesn’t work. Plus-size women have different parts of their body that they’re trying to mask.”
In 2001, when About Curves was started, lingerie was typically cut up to size 1X. But today, Culver can get lingerie cut up to size 6X.
With an average clothing size of 16 for women in the United States, there is an increasing demand for larger lingerie sizes.
Some of Culver’s students who find out about her business are less shocked about what she does than by how she does it.
“If anything, I have more respect for KC now because of the initiative she has taken,” said Culver’s former student, sophomore Diego Gabriel Donna, who just learned of About Curves. “I was surprised when I found out about this new enterprise she is heading up.”
Other students are not surprised at all by the online plus-size lingerie boutique.
“It doesn’t make me view her any differently,” sophomore Felix Bermudez said. “We all have different lives outside of work or school.”
Culver considers her site a success, not only in the business aspect, but as an empowerment tool for women.
She often receives e-mails thanking her for using real plus-size models and for providing the market with lingerie in sizes that were not available before.
Yet when it comes to balancing her business with teaching, Culver admits it can be challenging.
“I love teaching,” she said. “I can’t imagine giving either one of them up.”