Two Penn graduates created an online service that allows women to try out different designer clothes without stretching their budgets.
2011 Nursing graduate Barbra Dickerman and 2011 College and Wharton graduate Aaron Fleishman recently launched Wardrobe Wake-up, an online service that allows users to test-drive clothes. Subscribers pay a monthly fee of $25 to $45, and in return, Wardrobe Wake-up sends them a contemporary designer shirt or dress on a monthly basis.
All new members take a detailed style survey that helps connect them with a stylist, who will choose a personalized piece to send each month. This creates an element of surprise because site members do not know what to expect in the mail.
Site users can also specify the type of clothing they want, such as work wear or cocktail party attire. Currently, users can also add items to their “Wishlist,” a feature added after beta users gave feedback about the initial design. At the end of the month, site members can decide whether to purchase the item or return it to Wardrobe Wake-up.
Dickerman hopes young, urban women will see the benefits of Wardrobe Wake-up — it gives them the opportunity to expand their wardrobes without spending excessive amounts of money and running out of closet space. Designer shirts on the site range in retail price from $150-$300, and dresses from $200-$700.
Wardrobe Wake-up is currently working to continue to build relationships with contemporary designers that allow the company to purchase pieces at wholesale prices. As a result, Wardrobe Wake-up clients can then buy items they like at discounted prices as well. Designers also benefit because Wardrobe Wake-up increases sales and brand recognition, and the site will continue to buy new items to ensure that customers are satisfied each month.
Over time, Dickerman and Fleishman hope to expand Wardrobe Wake-up to encompass accessories and men’s fashions as well, but for now, the focus remains on perfecting their women’s clothing section. In the future, subscriptions may allow users to have more freedom to pick how many items they receive each month.
Dickerman explained that Wardrobe Wake-up follows the shared economy model. High-end clothing appeals to people, but it has drawbacks, such as the high costs and ephemerality of fashion. Wardrobe Wake-up offers an alternative — stylish young women can continue to enjoy nice clothes, but at lower costs.
Dickerman and Fleishman are very passionate about their new startup and shared some insight in the process.
“You need to perceive every deadline as being ‘yesterday,’” Dickerman said, noting that startups crop up almost every day. In the startup world, Dickerman added, there’s a lot of freedom, but also a lot of responsibility to ensure that the business takes off.
Fleishman handled business plans and financial models, and he taught himself how to code in order to make the website functional. In order to create a high-quality website, however, the duo outsourced to a photographer from Seattle and an Argentinian web designer.
Dickerman also spoke to the benefits of beta testers because they provide valuable feedback about the startup from a consumer standpoint.
“Operating in a vacuum can be very dangerous,” Dickerman said. “It is important when building any consumer product or service that you go out and get real feedback.”
To sign up for Wardrobe Wake-up or learn more about its services, visit wardrobewakeup.com.
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