Charlotte Oxnam with the VentureCat check.

One year ago at this time, Charlotte Oxnam was both happy and disappointed.

Oxnam’s startup business venture was one of the 25 semifinalists in Northwestern University’s VentureCat event, a competition among student entrepreneurs pitching their startup businesses to expert judges.

As a 2022 semifinalist, Oxnam won $7,000 for her company, “Cue the Curves.” Happy for that, but disappointed she didn’t do better, and get a larger prize.

But now, what a difference a year makes.

“Cue the Curves,” Oxnam’s social media shopping app for plus-sized women, was the $150,000 grand prize winner, announced Wednesday night at the VentureCat event on campus.

A total of $325,000 was awarded to various winners, with Oxnam getting about half of that as the top trophy winner.

“I was so overwhelmed,” Oxnam tells Evanston Now.

“I was excited. I cried.”

Oxnam says the year between VentureCats was “a huge part” of having more time to “develop our platform,” which connects consumers with businesses selling plus-sized clothing.

As any good entrepreneur will tell you, you need to identify a market and then find a way to meet the needs of those customers.

Oxnam says “67% of women in the U.S. are plus-sized, but only 8% of brands offer plus-sized items.”

When that happens, Oxnam says, plus-sized women are “explicitly being told” that fashion “is not for you.”

Of course, as an entrepreneur, Oxnam is in this to set up a successful business and make a profit.

Businesses pay “Cue the Curves” a commission for every item sold through the site.

But Oxnam also says helping plus-sized customers find fashionable items “improves their self-image and self-confidence.”

At all of age 21, Oxnam is looking forward to receiving her degree from Northwestern in a couple of weeks, and then working full-time on “Cue the Curves.”

Without having to deal with classes and exams, Oxnam says she’ll be able to “dedicate my brainpower” to build her company.

All VentureCat money must go towards development of the businesses which win the prizes.

“Cue the Curves” will have three employees to start.

Oxnam says “Northwestern was such a factor” in helping her grow as an entrepreneur, with VentureCat “the perfect culmination of my four years in Evanston.”

Now, it’s on to the outside world of business.

Cue the curves.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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