Melissa Ellard, Fashion-Force, Finalist of the Student Track

Melissa Ellard Melissa Ellard, a recent college graduate, worked hard over her last year at Bryant University to build the platform for her business, Fashion-Force, in her entrepreneurship class. Now, Fashion-Force is not just a concept, but a steadily growing business and a finalist in the Student Track at the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition! Fashion-Force is an online alternative to trade shows for the fashion industry. Companies are given the chance to display their latest designs on a 24/7 platform so that they can avoid the additional expenses, time, and stress of traditional trade shows. Fashion-Force also offers a social community where wholesalers/designers, manufacturers, and retailers can meet for business to business communications. Customers can also receive line sheet photography and services, as well as 360 degree image services. Fashion-Force’s overall goal is to help fashion businesses grow, connect, and conduct business through an easy, all-in-one service. During college, Melissa interned at Ross Stores, Inc. and Eileen F. Baker, Designer Representative. She also traveled to Milan, Italy for a semester to study Fashion and Fashion Marketing at the Lorenzo De Medici – Italian International Institute. She is currently working for Fashion and Fame Magazine and Anna Ober & Co. to further her knowledge on sales, competitive strategies, fashion trends, inventory, and much more. These years of experience showed her there was a need for a better alternative to trade shows that allowed businesses to grow and connect, and her solution was Fashion-Force. Melissa began Fashion-Force’s business plan in her entrepreneurship class this past September with the aid of her professor, Sandra Potter. She conducted market validation at StyleWeek Providence, sales appointments, networking functions, photo shoots – whenever possible to make sure her idea had merit. The hardest part about creating the plan for Melissa was developing the five-year financial projections for Fashion-Force. Melissa had trouble because it was hard for her to value a concept that hadn’t been brought to life yet, but she pushed through. Melissa was very excited to see her hard work pay off in the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. “It was an amazing honor to be recognized by the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. The competition pushed me to new levels and gave me an opportunity to prove the need and future success of Fashion-Force. It was an amazing experience and it feels fantastic to know others can see how hard I have researched my idea, and how passionate I am about Fashion-Force and its potential for changing the entire fashion industry,” Melissa said. Currently, Fashion-Force only has one major competitor, but its competitor focuses more on developed businesses with larger budgets and charges ten times more per month. The company hopes to help newer businesses, which do not have extra capital for travel and trade shows, grow their presence in the fashion industry. Melissa has many plans for Fashion-Force’s future, including collaboration with other companies. Fashion-Force has already teamed up with Fashion and Fame Magazine out of Cranston, Rhode Island. Fashion and Fame Magazine spotlights local fashion talent internationally, and offers many brand-building opportunities for future members of Fashion-Force. Right now, Melissa’s first goal is to get the company’s website built before they start selling to businesses. For those of you looking to start your own business, Melissa says to make sure there is a need for your product or service. She says that it’s important for you to first validate your idea in the market through research before you waste time on an idea that the market doesn’t need. What’s her most important piece of advice? Melissa said, “Never be scared to share your idea! You never know what can happen.”

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