Entrepreneurs are connecting unique designer brands to consumers

Two friends and students at Northeastern University launched an online fashion platform seeking to connect small designer brands with fashion connoisseurs.

“The fashion world has financial barriers that have long been insurmountable hurdles for small designers, leading to the untimely death of valued creativity,” says Lukas Dudzik, one of the founders of Sewn Boutique.

The platform focuses on “breaking down those walls and bridging the gap between small fashion and consumers” by highlighting one brand per week, while telling the stories of companies and their creators.

Dudzik and his business partner Alder Whiteford met through a Northeast fraternity.

Dudzik is a promising fourth-year student in the College of Science, studying math and economics with a minor in marketing analysis. Whiteford is a promising third-year student at Khoury College of Computer Sciences, where he is studying computer science and business administration.

Still, the two bonded over their interest in fashion.

“When you’re dealing with very rigid courses, there’s only one answer: look for other outlets in terms of creativity, I guess,” says Lukas.

He became interested in fashion during his senior year of high school because, he says, he was not good at playing musical instruments or drawing, but was good enough to know what clothes represented and expressed him. his style, his feelings or his emotions on a given day.

Whiteford spent countless hours buying and reselling the most coveted sneakers that came out when he was in high school, he says.

“It was my entry point into the fashion world,” says Whiteford. “And I developed this immense appreciation for the shoe market as well as the designers behind them.”

A friend from back home who had his own fashion brand told him about the difficulties of entering a market dominated by a select group of fast fashion companies and designers, as well as the financial and promotional barriers for a small brand, which got Whiteford thinking.

Last fall, while at the library, he shared an idea that had been simmering in his head for a while with his fraternity friends, including Dudzik.

“I thought it was really interesting, and it was just a more defined version of something I wanted to create in the past,” Dudzik says.

They took some time to research the market for smaller brands and competitors and came to the conclusion that most online sellers were too saturated with brands, giving them little chance to stand out. The websites and platforms they viewed were overcrowded with hundreds of brand pages, Dudzik says.

“There was very little history for each of the brands or any sort of description of what the little brand even stood for, which is something very important for people looking for unique clothing in the first place,” says -he. “If you’re going to buy something from a brand you’ve never really heard of, it’s really important for the buyer to make sure they have a good story and something meaningful to them.”

Dudzik and Whiteford set out to create something very curated that would allow brands to tell their story and reach audiences outside of their usual orbit.

Whiteford learned from scratch how to design websites and built sewnbtq.com in about six months, while Dudzik focused on finding smaller brands they’d like to collaborate with.

Since one of their goals was to let the brands tell their story and give customers an idea of ​​the products they are buying, Whiteford made the Sewn Boutique website dynamic and customizable. They can sit down with each designer to discuss the images, fonts, and branding information that will best communicate their unique identity.

“It allows us to refine our value proposition of showcasing these brands…instead of just placing them on a product page where you’re intertwined with a bunch of other stuff, and it’s all standardized,” Whiteford said.

For their launch, Dudzik and Whiteford decided to feature fellow North East student and designer, Matias Belete, and his unisex brand Foreign Resource. Belete, who is currently studying economics and business administration, started designing clothes about six years ago.

Growing up in five different countries – China, India, Kenya and Vietnam – Foreign Resource is synonymous with international citizenship as well as sustainability and circularity.

“Most natural resources are limited,” says Belete. “A finite resource may one day run out and disappear, [which] could make it alien to humans, which means it’s out of reach for us.

In the spirit of the brand’s concept, Belete tries to use sustainable and ethical producers for its ready-to-wear clothing, jewelry and designer items such as rugs.

He hopes to attract new customers outside of his direct audience through this collaboration with Sewn Boutique.

“If a brand is small and doesn’t really have an audience, this may be the best way to gain a good platform in the beginning,” says Belete. “We’re a bit later in our life cycle, so we have our own audience. But the reason why I think it’s going to be so effective for us is because one of the biggest problems for brands these days is being insular, which means sometimes I get to the place where we only sell to people who already buy our product.”

Currently, Sewn Boutique focuses on streetwear brands, a style that Dudzik and Whiteford appreciate and understand the most. They are looking to expand the selection of items on the platform in the future to include jewelry, handbags and other accessories as well as high fashion items.

“I’m a huge fan of the high fashion industry,” says Whiteford. “But that will come over time, bringing us more people who have a bit more expertise in this area.”

Sewn Boutique’s target audience are young people, from high school through their late twenties, who want to have a unique closet with items that mean something to them, Dudzik explains.

“Streetwear tends to be more reasonably priced [of individualized designer clothing]says Whiteford. “We’re not necessarily going to be looking to launch items on the website that are over the $200-$300 mark, unless it’s something we think we can sell.”

The partners expect incremental growth in their business, Dudzik says, and they’re eager to see what customers will like or dislike in bringing the best emerging brands to the public.

“I see it more as a fun project, a learning experience to get involved in the entrepreneurial world. And that’s something I plan to pursue after I graduate,” says Whiteford.

“I hope this project will have a solid platform that we both created and that we are both very proud of,” says Dudzik. “We’re going to make sure it’s as successful as possible.”

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