Category Archives: Fashion

Millennial Entrepreneur: Uptown Cheapskate

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Fashion is way of expression, but how can you fully express yourself if you can’t afford what you want to wear? Uptown Cheapskate, the fashion exchange for young adults and teens, has made it possible for cash-poor youth to afford stylish clothes. We asked Millennial co-founders Scott and Chelsea Sloan how they turned their idea into a reality, and what it’s like building a business with your sibling.

What motivated you to start Uptown Cheapskate?

CHELSEA: Scott and I (and the rest of my sisters) have a weird tendency that we picked up from my parents. When we walk into a restaurant or a store or even a party, we immediately and almost unconsciously think of ways to improve it. We fix stuff. That’s what helped us to start Uptown.

SCOTT: Our parents have six kids, and my mom got hooked on resale shopping when we were young. They eventually decided to start a kid’s resale franchise concept called Kid to Kid, which now has almost 100 stores in the US and Portugal. As some of the hardest working people I know, they instilled the value of work on us at a young age. I think these values are essential to being a successful entrepreneur because any success or failures that you experience fall squarely on your shoulders.

CHELSEA: There are 50,000 different resale and thrift stores in the US – and most of those stores are doing very low numbers. Frankly, the resale industry for adults is fragmented and has a bit of a bad rep. It didn’t take us long to see a great opportunity in the teen and young adult space. We had talked about wanting to start businesses together before – this gave us our direction. We knew our customers (we ARE our customers), we knew the competition, and we felt confident we could improve the resale experience and make it “Uptown”.

How did you come up with the name?

SCOTT: We wanted a fun name that spoke to what we do. Our Uptown stores provide an arena for like-new fashions to be bought and sold at amazing prices. Who doesn’t want an Uptown look at Cheapskate prices?

CHELSEA: Sometimes the hardest thing is finding the right name. It took us almost a year to settle on Uptown Cheapskate (we have literally thousands of rejected names), but we love how our customers can be frugal and still look fantastic by recycling their wardrobes. We’re an upscale resale option for our fashion-forward customers.

You developed your own software that helps make sure people selling their clothes are receiving a fair trade for their items. How did that come about?

CHELSEA: Sometimes a person has a designer or unusual brand that’s not easily recognized – and we want to make sure these sellers get what their items are worth. It took me almost a year to develop our IMAP program, which is basically the Kelly Blue Book for resale clothing. Our program recognizes nearly 5,000 unique brands, and assigns a range of values to each brand by type of item. This takes the guesswork out of buying, and ensures that we’re fairly paying out our sellers based on their items. This program is the cornerstone of our franchise system.

Most college students find it difficult to work and go to school, how did you balance work while attending classes full-time?

SCOTT: We weren’t ever able to find a point where we could equally balance both work and school. Sometimes school took precedence, sometimes work was more pressing. Having a dedicated partner to rely on during those times was certainly helpful. We also learned early on that owning your own business means that you learn how to make due with less personal and family time. We’ve both missed weddings, vacations…

CHELSEA: I spent a lot of time on my laptop furiously responding to emails while in class. One semester, I had to drop out two weeks in because we were opening too many stores that Fall. Really, though, the thing that you give up is leisure time. I always had 40-50 hours of work at least, and 30 hours of school. Hard? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

Do you ever find it challenging to work as family members and business partners?

SCOTT: With any partnership there will be times when you disagree. The benefit of working with family is that we know that even if a discussion gets heated, we’re still going to be family at the end of the day, and family comes first. It helps that we both approach business decisions logically as opposed to emotionally, and that we don’t get our feelings hurt easily. We’ve also found that if one of us feels more passionately about a particular course that we will defer to the other.

CHELSEA: What he said. Scott and I could have been business partners even if we weren’t family. I would pick him again – because we share a common vision of where Uptown should be. We want the same thing for the company. And I know that he’s going to make the right choices if I’m not there. When we do argue, we do it in a way that lets us blow off steam, and then we get over it.

The upside – and downside – to working with family is that you spend a lot of time together, and work conversations never really stop.

Chelsea, last year you were the first woman to win the Global Student Entrepreneur Award. What kind of motivation did that give you to keep pushing forward?

CHELSEA: Currently there are very few women who have grown companies on a large scale. There are lots of theories why – people say things like women are more lifestyle-focused, or that they’re more risk-averse. Being a franchisor puts me in a unique position; a large part of what I do is helping other women become entrepreneurs themselves. Our store owners – many of them women – are able to leverage a franchise system to help them mitigate risk and run successful small businesses, and that is really cool.

What inspired you to open a fashion franchise? Have you always had a desire for fashion?

CHELSEA: Ha-ha. I’m actually not a fashionista. I grew up in the 90’s, so fashion consisted of oversized tees and Jenco jeans. But I love predicting and analyzing fashion trends! One of the challenges of our business is training our buyers to select used styles that mimic and follow current trends. So we do a LOT of fashion training. And I love learning about and teaching that to people. We project out about a year in advance, so when a style actually hits the street, I’ve been following it for a while.

Building a business is obviously not easy. Scott, was there ever a time when you felt like giving up?

SCOTT: Every day is either a challenge or an opportunity – depending on how you look at it. The more we learn about the upscale resale industry, the more we realize what we don’t know. Yes, I’ve been frustrated from time to time, but the idea of giving up isn’t an option that’s ever on the table. We’ve got too many dedicated team members and franchise partners that rely on us for support and guidance to think in those terms.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who want to start their own company?

CHELSEA: Figure out what you want your business to do, and set the foundation to grow. Four years ago, Uptown Cheapskate was a single store in Salt Lake buying and selling used clothing. But Scott and I built a brand and a system that was scalable into multiple markets. We decided to grow through franchising, and so now we have thirty-five stores in thirteen states. We couldn’t have done that if we hadn’t done a lot of strategizing and risk analysis from the get-go.

SCOTT: The question you have to ask yourself is “are you prepared to risk everything, do whatever it takes, at whatever the cost, to make your dream a success?” I would advise would-be entrepreneurs to learn from others so they don’t duplicate the same (or at least as many) mistakes. There are mentorship programs for young entrepreneurs to get you in touch with industry experts who are willing to share their time and knowledge. They can point you in the right direction for finding start-up capital, discuss business strategy, and help you build a network of professionals.

If you want to learn more about Uptown cheapskate or visit one of their stores, check out their website at Uptown Cheapskate.

The Friday Listicle: Stuff We Liked From Across the Internetz

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Spring has sprung in NYC. We’re loving the weather. While you countdown to the weekend to enjoy the weather, here are some links to keep you occupied:

  • “Thou art as fat as butter.”
    17 Shakespearean Insults To Unleash In Everyday Life
  • Love movie quotes? Get the poster.
    17th and Oak
  • Morbid but good to know.
    How to Deal With Your Google Data After You’re Dead
  • Live. Love. Design.
    Collection: The 7 Best Designs of the Year
  • Scratch Loves: Take My Picture

    TAKE MY PICTURE from GARAGE Magazine on Vimeo.

    As the pioneer of street style photography, Bill Cunningham, once said, “The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been and always will be.” With the recent influx of street style blogs and the fashion world craving candid streetwear shots, street style is finally getting the cred it deserves. But is all this new attention transforming what was once genuine and raw into just another overly-produced shell of itself?

    Garage Magazine created a short film called, “Take My Picture” that explores this fashion phenomenon. It delves into the meta issue of bloggers photographing other bloggers for their blog, the “peacock-ing” effect outside of fashion shows as well as the importance street style has on culture.

    Get a glimpse of this overtly colorful, pattern-centric, fashion-slaved world.

    Millennial Entrepreneur: Jace Lipstein

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    Image courtesy of Wimiry

    The Millennial Entrepreneur series highlights Millennials who have taken their passion and turned it into a full-time career through innovation, creativity and perseverance.

    Camouflage, basketball and girls: three words you might use to describe grungygentleman.com. But it’s way more than that. The once-tiny men’s style blog written by Millennial trendsetter Jace Lipstein has become a full-fledged online publication, with dedicated writers, photographers and videographers – pretty good considering the coincidental turn of events that ignited the original idea.

    As many Millennials seem to do, Jace was living a double life. He was a paralegal by day and working in nightlife afterhours. His attire called for dapper: Jace always delivered. His passion for looking good consistently generated compliments on his style. While looking for a black and white gingham shirt at Barney’s to complete his outfit for an event, Jace ran into David Neville, designer of Rag & Bone.

    Jace describes the chance encounter, and the moment he realized he was actually on to something, “I spoke to Dave Neville from Rag & Bone for a while, probably for about 25-30 minutes. He was super receptive, sort of taking what I was saying into consideration. I wouldn’t necessarily say he was listening to me and literally changing the way he thinks, but that conversation gave me confidence that other people would listen to me too.”

    Jace had a way with being name-checked in event press. They’d take a stab at categorizing his style, but they never seemed to get it quite right. “Some would call me a hipster. Some would call me a bohemian hipster…I wouldn’t necessarily call it accurate…When I talked to my friends, I mentioned I dressed like a ‘Grungy Gentleman.’” Boom. The name was born. After a total push from his friends, Jace bought the URL, hired a graphic designer and launched his blog.

    Four years on, Jace’s side hustle has become a full time gig (with people working for him instead of the other way around). His evolution spawned from his passion. With all modesty, Jace testifies, “I’m super passionate about anything I do. The things I’m super passionate about, they consume my life so I know a lot about them. Did I start the site as a passion project? Absolutely.”

    Over the years,  Grungy Gentleman has partnered with menswear brands to create collaborative pieces, leading up to Jace’s latest (and possibly greatest): a capsule collection with Carlos Campos due out this March. While paving his way in the menswear world, Jace affirms “I am a fan first and I always will be.  Will I still geek out over a new brand collab? Absolutely.”

    The Grungy Gentleman has clearly garnered a nice following and Jace believes it’s because of the authenticity of his content. But his extreme work ethic paved the way for true success.

    What advice does Jace have for millennials? Simple: “Work your fucking ass off.” For a generation that is sometimes called lazy and entitled, it’s pretty great to have people out there proving all the naysayers wrong.

    Check out more about Jace and Grungy Gentleman.

    Born Out of Frustration: Igor Dewe

    Igor Dewe is a 22-year-old Parisian performance artist that is all sorts of amazing.

    Dewe’s art is avant-garde, eccentric, and a little NSFW - while his personal style is a hybrid of cultural references, gender binaries, and high & low fashion.

    From his Tumblr, he describes himself as a “creature born out of pure frustration of too much hotness and beauty”. Like many Millennials, Dewe is mashing up and remixing culture in a way that challenges the notion of a static identity – and opening the doors to dynamic style and evolving culture.

    His Tumblr headline says: “Behold this is the crack in the world wide web’s spider net of casualties. Prepare. Be afraid. Get Ready. And yes, be very afraid”.

    We’re not afraid Igor, we’re not afraid at all.

    (h/t Claudia Cukrov)

    Scratch Makes A Music Video With Karmin

    Team Scratch made a video with Epic artist Karmin, and this breakthrough effort,  “I Told You So,” premieres today on MTV, mtvU, MTV Hits and MTV.com. Truly a labor of teamwork, vision and passion, “I Told You So” represents a unique coming together of the various talents that makes Scratch exceptional.

    Inspired after seeing Karmin’s self-made videos online, Scratch approached the band to collaborate on an original music video. Shot in the still-being-converted (so it’s mostly empty and kinda spooky) Pfizer pharmaceutical plant in Brooklyn, the video was shot in one long, long day. Every member of team Scratch – from assistants to executives, producers to researchers – chipped in and contributed to the production behind or in front of the camera.  Or both!

    So, for the week of May 7thKarmin will be the MTV PUSH (Play Until Someone Hears) featured artist. As most of you know, MTV selects a new PUSH artist each week and then spotlights the artists across all platforms- TV, web, mobile-including music video rotations on the appropriate channels (MTV, MTV2, mtvU, MTV Hits, MTV Jams). Also featured is exclusive interviews on-air via MTV’s  various news sites (MTV NewsMTV BuzzworthyMTV Hive), as well as intimate performances and live stream concerts.

    Karmin is also MTV’s POSTED artist for the month of May. POSTED is a digital franchise that provides music fans with a singular destination to find social media updates, videos, news and photos of their favorite artists. Each month, MTV, VH1 and CMT each select an artist to spotlight. POSTED lives on each channel’s web and mobile properties as a space that connects artists directly with their fans in real time by aggregating all social feeds as well as spotlighting video content recorded by the artist exclusively for MTV, VH1, or CMT.

    Rock Diary by Hedi Slimane

    [image via Hedi Slimane]

    Arguably the most influential fashion designer of the 21st century, Hedi Slimane left his position as the artistic director at Dior Homme five years ago to reinvent himself as a photographer.

    Slimane’s black and white portraits capture striking, intimate moments of some of the most famous faces in contemporary culture. Jeffrey Deitch, the head of the Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, said of Slimane, “I’ve always, from the beginning, thought that he was one of the most original artistic voices of his generation.”

    via New York Times:

    His photo work often portrays musicians at the fringes of fame or notoriety: up-and-coming artists whose bona fides lie primarily in the independent music scene. Others, perhaps, achieved widespread renown (or infamy), like Amy Winehouse or Pete Doherty, but seemed somehow to remain at the frayed, tragic edges of rock culture.

    Slimane captures what seems like quiet moments. However, these moments create a powerful effect and exude the rock and roll spirit of this generation.

    Check out more of Hedi Slimane’s work here >

    John Waters on Rookie Magazine


    [image via Rookie Magazine]

    Rookie is a web magazine for teenage girls started by blogger Tavi Gevinson.

    Tavi first hit the scene with her blog, Style Rookie, which has earned her praise from even the most elite of the fashion world. Since launching Style Rookie nearly four years ago, Tavi has served as a muse for Rodarte’s Target line, been profiled in The New Yorker, and was called out by Lady Gaga as “the future of journalism.”

    Oh, and by the way – Tavi is only 15 years old.

    Beyond fashion, Tavi has also shown insight into her generation as a whole. New York Magazine interviewed her late last year and asked her opinion about young people and technology:

    I think there’s this scrambling — that for people to feel like they’re a relevant or interesting person they have to be spouting out one-liners on Twitter every couple of hours. It’s really interesting how people, how the world, is trying to figure out what it means to have an extension of our identity, or a whole new identity, online. And it’s a really unique situation where, for once, it’s something that young people understand better than adults in a lot of ways, or are more used to it. But it’s such this scary powerful thing.

    After her success with Style Rookie, Tavi started Rookie Mag. Focusing a little less on fashion and more on teenage culture, the blog has contributors of all ages covering a wide range of topics from music to comics to advice for young people.

    And since this blog is sort of Scratch’s inspiration board, here is a look at another: Rookie recently visited cult artist and filmmaker John Waters’s house and did a photo tour. Above is a photo of John Waters’s inspiration board with the caption, “This is my bulletin board where I put things that inspire me. I think it’s just such a good idea and everybody should have one in their house, just a place where you can put images.”

    A perfect addition to this blog and a little meta-fodder: inspiration within inspiration – a photograph of a physical collage, on a blog, on the internet. Pre-pinterest.

    HARD: The interactive Bookazine

    Admittedly, I had a little too much fun watching this video by Ruben Scupin.

    The video above showcases his project, Hard: The Interactive Bookazine, which mixes fashion and beauty with some delightfully surprising elements. I love the video, I can only imagine what the bookazine would be like in real life.

    Scupin is a Graphic Designer from Germany. He is currently in school studying Media Design. His website is rad.

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