When thinking about entrepreneurship at Penn, fashion might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But at the Penn Fashion Week-hosted “Shark Tank” on Friday, Penn’s fashion entrepreneurs proved themselves as forces to be reckoned with when they answered difficult questions and took criticism from a panel of experts in the fashion field.
“For [the entrepreneurs] it’s definitely very valuable to get feedback from a variety of industry experts,” CEO of Penn Fashion Week and College senior Grace Guan said.
On the entrepreneurial side, representatives from the companies Frackit, Prayas Analytics, Avenue One, Barring Eyewear and Kyu Mélange all attended the event. They each gave short presentations about their companies, answered questions and received recommendations from four panelists. The panel were Senior Fashion Director of Barneys New York Tomoko Ogura, Executive Vice President of Women’s Wear Jennifer Sunwoo, CEO of AR Consulting Alexandra Reese and entrepreneur Allison Berliner.
Berliner urged College juniors Caroline Calle and Melissa Greenblatt, founders of Frackit — the low-cost “fraternity jacket” designed for nights out — to more heavily invest time and energy in e-commerce instead of campus representatives. “Right now they’re your friends, but eventually you’re going to graduate,” she said. Reese suggested they have a larger, Garage brand-style label on the inside of their jackets to “get the brand more out there.”
Kesi Gibson, a 2013 Wharton MBA graduate and CEO and Founder of designer handbag company Kyu Mélange, emphasized her environmentally conscious business model. “Socially conscious consumption ... is what the luxury customer is caring about today,” she said. The panelists were interested, but emphasized a narrower aesthetic for her brand. “I think it should be more targeted, and it will have a stronger message,” Sunwoo said.
A Frackit was passed around the room for the audience to handle as well as the panelists, but only the panelists could handle designer handbags and eyewear.
This year’s Shark Tank was the first of its kind. The panelists were brought in through Penn alumni networks and through Event Coordinator and Shark Tank host Jameel Mohammed’s previous experience working for Barneys. Guan said that along with the rest of Penn Fashion Week, Shark Tank had been in the works since October.
“We wanted it to be really useful to students who started businesses or wanted inspiration,” she said.Comments powered by Disqus
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