With nothing more than a few sketches, Boston College junior Danielle Dalton raised $4,000 on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo in 10 days.
“I didn’t have a manufacturer lined up at the time,” Dalton admitted. “We had sketches, but no prototype.”
The core message of her American-made, eco-friendly clothing and accessories line, Molly Miller, resonated with consumers, however, particularly those reading headlines like, “Abercrombie & Fitch Refuses to Make Clothes for Large Women” or “Target’s Photoshop Fail: Excessive Airbrushing for Teens.”
“Everyone knows someone or has seen something in the media related to body image,” Dalton said. “To see body image in a positive way in a clothing company is still a pretty big part of [our] feedback.”
For every product sold, Molly Miller donates seven percent of the profits to the National Eating Disorder Association. The model is a reflection of the brand’s motto, “Live Authentically,” which to Dalton means, “people really doing what they like and what they care about,” whether that’s penning a novel or similarly launching their own company.
Molly Miller got its start when Dalton decided to enter the Boston College Venture Competition with what was just an idea. When her first product, a quarter-zip pullover, started receiving positive reviews and the startup progressed, she decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign.
“I wanted to do the Indiegogo campaign during the competition for three reasons,” Dalton explained, “to raise awareness, to see what the market was like and to prove that this could work.”
In less than two weeks, she hit her goal, raising $4,175 in total, and her early success attracted the BCVC judges. Dalton tied for second place in this spring’s competition, winning an additional $6,250 in the process.
Dalton used the financing to hire a Boston-area seamstress who could help her bring her sketches to life. With a prototype in hand, she visited Copley Place in search of the right organic fabrics and started production. Each pullover is being manufactured locally and will be ready for shipment this week.
“I want to create a lifestyle brand people really enjoy and can relate to in some way.”
Yet the execution phase couldn’t have happened as easily without the Soaring Startup Circle, a rotating accelerator program launched by Boston College alumni designed to bring student startups to the next level. Over the summer, Dalton has been given the opportunity to work alongside seasoned founders, as well as network with investors, lawyers and fellow entrepreneurs within the city’s startup community.
“I have a greater understanding of what needs to be done to move from point A to point B,” said Dalton, reflecting on her experience. “I have a better understanding of how starting a company works.”
Dalton is now looking to expand the line. The Molly Miller website currently features various accessories, yet is expected to boast T-shirts, as well as the initial quarter-zip pullover, in the fall.
“I want to continue to grow the community we have,” Dalton said. “I want to create a lifestyle brand people really enjoy and can relate to in some way.”
Images via Danielle Dalton