Jansen helps launch clothes-sharing app
Since September, Wiltonian Kate Jansen and fellow Bucknell University students have been working to create a social mobile platform called Friendress that would allow people to instantly borrow and lend clothes.
“Imagine this scenario: It’s the night before a big event, and as you’re looking through your closet, you realize that you have nothing to wear,” Kate, a senior English major and 2012 Wilton High School graduate, told The Bulletin.
“It’s too late to run to the store and, quite frankly, you don’t want to spend the time or money on an outfit that you’ll only wear once. So, what do you do?”
That’s where Friendress comes in.
“Whether you’re looking for a casual blouse to wear to class or a formal dress to wear to a holiday party, Friendress makes linking friends’ closets together easy,” said Kate, who came up with the concept with four students in her management course.
“We started conceptualizing Friendress in September [after] my co-founders and I recognized serious potential in a marketplace that already exists,” said Kate.
That marketplace, she said, is “the ‘shared economy’ that companies like Uber and Airbnb have capitalized on.”
Kate and her classmates surveyed students around campus and discovered that most of them already borrow their friends’ clothes on a regular basis.
“We thought, ‘Well, if this system is already happening on campus, why don’t we make it easier, faster and more community-based for everyone?” said Kate. “Let’s bring the shared economy to people’s closets.’”
Kate said Friendress users will range from “your best friends in college to your co-workers, to even your favorite fashion bloggers, designers and brands.”
Not only will users be able to request to borrow clothes, said Kate, but also “shop and get fashion tips all on one mobile platform.”
Kate said Friendress really started to take off once she and her group pitched their Friendress concept at this year’s Business Pitch (BizPitch) Competition in October and were named finalists.
The annual competition at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., is designed to give student entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with advisors and win prizes to help them launch their ventures.
“During the competition, we were given five minutes to pitch to a board of Bucknell alumni and an audience of over 100 people,” said Kate.
“The energy was palpable, and it has definitely been one of my most rewarding experiences at Bucknell.”
Although they didn’t place in the finals, Kate said, she and her team “used the feedback from our mentors at the Small Business Development Center in Lewisburg and alumni to create an action place for Friendress.”
Future of Friendress
Kate said next semester, her team plans to compete in other tech start-up business pitch competitions around the country.
Kate said her team has applied to trademark Friendress and a beta version of the app is currently being developed.
“Our vision for Friendress extends far beyond sharing formal dresses,” said Kate,
“Users will be able to borrow and lend maternity clothes, prom dresses, tuxedos — the possibilities to share clothes are really endless on Friendress.”
Building a company from scratch may have been difficult, Kate said, but it has also been an “incredible learning experience” and “tremendously rewarding.”
Overall, Kate said, the Friendress team hopes to follow the company’s mantra: “Providing a user-friendly platform to people who want to share what they wear.”
Anyone interested in staying updated on Friendress’ progress can follow the start-up on Instagram at instagram.com/friendress.
“We are also currently looking for and accepting support for our project,” said Kate.