BU Alum pitches business to Project Runway: Fashion Start-Up

She sold 30% of her company in a deal with Rebecca Minkoff

Alexandra Shadrow is the 23 year old CEO and founder of UNItiques, and a proud BU alum (CGS’12, COM’15) who was recently featured on the new spin-off reality show ‘Project Runway: Fashion Start-Up’ pitching her company to the show’s five investors this past Thursday evening.

In exchange for a 20% share in her company, Shadrow asked for a $500,000 investment which would value UNItiques at $2.5 million.

The show’s five investors include the Co-Founder and CEO of Birchbox, Katia Beauchamp; the Founder and CEO of Gwynnie Bee, Christine Hunsicker; fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, and CEO of Hilldun Corporation and Chairman of Interluxe Holdings LLC, Gary Wassner.

On episode three of the new series, Shadrow informed the investors that her startup, created in 2014, currently has 10,000 members of which 50% have actively bought or sold something on the safe platform.

Shadrow explained that after a creepy encounter with someone on Craig’s List, she wished to create a more secure website for students that would require a college email identification for security. This, as well as their pop-up shop stagey allowing both online and offline purchases, interested the investors.

“I think you hit the nail on the head. You have something here, absolutely,” said Katia Beauchamp.

However, while the investors were impressed by Shadrow’s grit, they were confused about the clarity of her business model. According to Shadrow, UNItiques currently runs on two revenue models: advertisements and commissions. However, the young CEO expressed that currently she and her team receive no commission for the services they provide.

“How are you keeping doors open if you’re not making money?” said the most skeptical investor Gary Wassner.

In order to test out UNItiques, Shadrow was given the opportunity to do a “Campus Takeover” by opening a pop-up shop in New York before coming back to re-pitch her startup. 

Before planning the pop-up shop, Shadrow met with the Co-Founder and Head of Business Development at Rent the Runway, Jennifer Fleiss, who encouraged Shadrow to change her monetization strategy and earn a commission. At her re-pitch, Shadrow announced she made 15% commission on the pop-up event.

Overall, the event raked in $1,000 in sales, earning Shadrow $150 in profit, which four investors viewed as not enough and passed on the deal. However, Rebecca Minkoff was impressed by Shadrow and the two struck a deal. In exchange for 30% of her company, Shadrow would be hired to work for Minkoff as well as run UNItiques on the side using Minkoff’s consulting and advice. 

On the experience Shadrow said, “I filmed the show a couple months back and have been dying to share it with my friends and network ever since. I’m so excited I can finally come out and share that I’m on it, it feels surreal. I was so in the moment and focused because it was my first time pitching to investors.”

When asked about the preparation behind the show Shadrow said, “preparing for the show was nerve-wracking. I practiced and practiced and practiced my pitch, but when I got up there, I realized that I can rehearse this script, or I can talk from my confidence and my heart. And that’s exactly what I did.”

Overall Shadrow is pleased with how the pitch turned out and said, “I know that I represented UNItiques to the absolute best of my ability and that’s all that matters.”

Featured image courtesy of Lifetime.