We all know how hard it is to shop on a budget. However, we also know how hard it is to shop for your dorm, a new wardrobe, while saving money to pay for tuition, textbooks, food, and a social life on a budget in college! Many students resort to looking for deals or selling items for money on E-bay or Craigslist, but how reliable or safe are either of those options? Especially for women.
This is exactly what Alex Shadrow, a senior PR major at BU, was thinking when she came up with her idea for UNItiques. Alex had come to Boston from L.A and a whole new winter wardrobe was necessary. She tried to sell her shorts and summer clothes to expand her budget, but a creepy experience through Craigslist left her feeling violated at the thought of strangers in her house when she was alone. In addition, secondhand stores were either rejecting her items or ripping her off. ““I love clothes, they are my number one inspiration. I also love to shop,” she says. “I looked for something like UNItiques but there was nothing, so I figured with my fashion and shopping knowledge and experience, why not make it myself?”
This dress ($15) and leather bomber ($17) are the perfect pair for the fall weather!
UNItiques is really simple to use. Users sign up using an .edu email to keep them safe. They can shop items from on their campus and on campuses nearby. (You can even shop the homepage without signing up to check it own). Then, you can create your own store to sell stuff to other students and make bank. Anything can be sold or bought on UNItiques but it is primarily fashion. When you want to buy something, the two users set up a time to meet and pay on campus. You can also see mutual Facebook friends and ask these friends about the person you are about to meet, making the whole process even safer.
UNItiques was originally BUtique, an online marketplace for BU students. However, people messaged Alex from all over the country, from campuses as close as URI and as far as Loyola Marymount, and UGA. She realized her idea was not just something that could benefit BU, but all college campuses.
Expanding was a challenge at first. “The first time I tried to create UNItiques there were a lot of problems and I couldn’t do it all myself. I worked with a lot of different teams. Finding people I trusted with my idea and who shared my values and mission was a struggle,” said Alex. However, then Alex met Suggi. Suggi had messaged Alex because the old UNItiques website (her first try) was not working correctly and she had wanted to delete her account. However, Suggi was also a coder and offered to help out. “If I hadn’t failed on my first try, I would have never found Suggi or have proudly launched the UNItiques.com you see today,” Alex explained. Suggi and Alex started to work together and became great friends. “We call each other ‘The Vortex’,” Alex laughs. “We are totally opposite in terms of our skills set but completely need one another.”
These cute heels are selling for $10!
Now the UNItiques team is growing and growing. We are 25 interns strong with Campus Executives nationwide, a social media team, recruitment interns, and even a film team at Emerson. “A campus executive is a college student who leads a team to bring UNItiques to his or her campus,” Alex explains. “There is a lot of collaboration WITH (not in) the college community.”
Alex wants to keep expanding UNItiques and make all campuses, especially those in Boston, aware of the website and that it is the safest and most organized way to buy and sell items on campus. She would also like to expand into Europe eventually. However, her short term goal is to develop a mobile app for the website.
More accessories! The Alex & Ani bracelet is ONLY $10!
“I learned so much from starting a business at 21.” Alex reflects. “Trial and error was the best way to learn. I was shooting a lot in the dark at first, but now I have good target aim.”
Alex has offered HerCampus NU a promo code: HCNEU to shop at UNItiques!* Use “HCNEU” on www.UNItiques.com/register to win awesome gift cards. you need clothing for a themed party, a Halloween costume, or just want something cute, definitely check out UNItiques before you look on Newbury Street or at the Pru!
*To learn even more about UNItiques, attend the Clothing Swap HCNU and Alex are putting on together on October 22 (details will be posted on our Facebook page!).