Alumni to sell, ship flair to campus

by Elizabeth Smith | 4/27/14 6:19pm

For students on the hunt for a leopard-print tutu or a vintage denim jacket, Thriftbox — a new business launched last weekend by Will Lowry ’13 and Eric Wu ’13 — allows students to order a monthly box of clothing items delivered to campus for a monthly charge.

Thriftbox curates its clothing from New York thrift shops, delivering two, three or five surprise items monthly, Lowry said. Students can subscribe to the service for any number of months or can purchase a single box, and participation costs between $15 and $30 depending on the size of the order.

On the website, customers choose to receive flair, vintage clothing or a box of mixed styles. The website allows customers to specify their size and gender, as well style preferences like pastels, Hawaiian shirts or blazers.

Lowry and Wu, friends since their freshman year at the College, both currently work full-time jobs in Manhattan. When Wu called Lowry with the idea for Thriftbox on April 18, however, Lowry said he immediately wanted to join forces.

People enjoy expressing themselves through unique clothing with history, Wu said, but discovering pieces can be time-intensive. Thriftbox aims to take the work out of people’s hands by providing them with an inexpensive, simple and sustainable method of acquiring new clothing, he said.

“We feel at least to a certain extent, fashion can sometimes be bifurcated based on your income,” Wu said. “We want to close that income gap.”

Lowry said their current objective, however, is for the company to receive its first order.

The pair select clothing based on what they believe college students enjoy wearing, Wu said, adding that his and Lowry’s experiences with Dartmouth flair culture and the “hipster, vintage vibe” of Manhattan make them well-suited to hand-select the items shipped each month.

For the past two weeks, Lowry said, the duo has allowed their instincts to guide their selections.

“So far it’s been a ‘we know it when we see it’ type of thing,” Lowry said. “It’s also nice because we get to put a personal touch on the products themselves.”

With Green Key approaching, Wu and Lowry have begun marketing their business to Dartmouth students through word of mouth, fliers and social media, hoping to build interest and a customer base at the College, Wu said.

Depending on Thriftbox’s success at Dartmouth, Wu said the team may market the service to other colleges in the country.

Of four students interviewed, three said they were receptive to Thriftbox’s business model.

Angie Lee ’17 said that she may use the business because it is easier and less time-consuming than traditional online shopping, and Haley Hur ’17 said that although she does not wear flair, she may purchase vintage clothing through Thriftbox because the service is reasonably priced.

“I’ll definitely try it once,” Hur said.

Hao Chang ’16 said he believed the service would be popular for Dimensions of Dartmouth, First-Year Trips and Greek organization events.

Clara Wang ’17, however, said that though the Thriftbox concept is interesting, she may not sign up for a long-term version of the program because she prefers to try clothes on before buying them.

As they move forward with their business, Lowry and Wu said the duo will consider hiring employees with an eye for fashion to work as personal shoppers.

The company will give 10 percent of profits from sales placed by May 6 — in time for Green Key weekend — to The Bowery Mission in Manhattan, which works with homeless men and women and at-risk youth.

“We want to start a company where we’re actually able to make some kind of positive difference,” Lowry said.

Lowry is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.

Correction appended: April 28, 2014

The initial version of the article said clients could exclusively subscribe to the service for a monthly fee, but they can buy individual boxes as well. The story has been revised to correct the error.

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