What’s more convenient than a cute headband to spice up an outfit? How about a cute headband that can double as a tube top? Sophomore fashion design major Justine Gallo and senior managerial marketing major Amber Noble are the co-creators of the business Band Together. They sell headbands that double as tube tops for the price of eight dollars, and 15% of the proceeds go to charity. A Mag has sat down with Justine and Amber to learn a little more about their new business.
How did you two meet?
J: We met from club basketball, so last year I joined the team and I met Amber.
Justine How long have you been sewing?
J: I’ve been sewing since my freshman year of high school. So about six years I guess you could say.
How long have you had the business?
A: We launched on September 3rd of this year.
What made you decide to start selling headbands?
J: I live in New Jersey, I live kind of down the shore. They had these headbands that were also tube tops. And I bought one but it was like really expensive. I was like this is stupid I could just make my own. So I started just making them for my friends. Then I realized that it could be a good way to make money because it was kind of inexpensive. Also, Amber would tell me ideas that she had and I was like “oh, wait, I could help you with that”. And we just thought this was the easiest one to get started.
A: She told me about her idea. Like a year ago in Prentice, we were asking people if they would buy something like this. So a year later we were like let’s just do this and we did it.
How many different styles do you offer?
J: Right now we offer 10 styles. We want to keep adding and adding – it’s just about the time I have to make them. For certain months, we do different styles according to the charities. Next month we are gonna do holiday-themed headbands, and they glow in the dark. We are also going to do pink headbands for breast cancer awareness. So we have 10 right now, but we want to do as many as we can manage at a time.
A: We kind of want to keep rotating the styles every month to create variety.
J: We definitely want to keep people on their toes.
Do you just sell headbands or do you sell more accessories?
J: We have a lot of coming are always thinking of things. We will do a few scrunchies. We are also thinking more men driven stuff as well. Possibly neckties or something else that is small and easy.
A: Things like hair ties, purse ties and professional neckties
Where do you guys get the fabrics from?
J: Right now, Joann’s but in the future, I want to start getting more sustainable fabrics. However, the options we have right now are just very limited and it’s very expensive.
How do you pick the charities that you will donate to?
A: So it depends on the market at the time. Sororities are really big into philanthropy. We just thought it would be good to make out first months proceeds go to Autism Speaks. It depends on the month as well. Certain months are awareness months and so we will sometimes pick the charities that way. Like next month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Justine also has a bit more of a personal connection to that one too.
J: It’s almost like timing. With some sororities, we offer to do special charities just for their philanthropy. So that we can help them raise money for their specific cause. But usually it has to do with the month or I know people who have charities that we could use as well.
A: Like for Christmas we are going to do Toys for Tots and actually buy the toys for the kids
What is each of your roles in the business?
J: I deal with the production, and Amber handles all of the business side.
Is it hard to balance school with your business?
J: Well, I probably have it a little harder. I just changed my shifts, but I was working 20 hours with 19 credits in addition to this. I’ve cut down on my work hours because this job is working out. But, honestly, I enjoy it’s what I do when I’m just sitting around. The hardest part is just when I can get to Joann’s.
A: It’s definitely hard but I think it’s really nice that we can both rely on each other
Do you find the business side to be more challenging than anticipated?
A: I go to school for this so it’s mostly what I expected. I wanted to get a little more organized before we launched. But, we kind of just got excited and did it. So for the first week, I was like “Oh my gosh”. But now we have a system and we are moving towards getting licensed and registered with the state and stuff like that.
J: It was definitely trial and error, and we learned a lot. Like she said when we first started it was crazy. Amber deals with the business, so she is constantly updating things.
Have do you get clients?
A: Right now we only have one platform which is Instagram (@made.by.justine) and we do word of mouth. But, we want to expand that with Facebook, Etsy and a website. We also want to expand with charity events, like we are doing the breast cancer walk, and craft shows as well.
J: We usually just ask people to follow our Instagram. And I have friends from other schools and different states as well post on their Instagrams. So we are getting people from different locations too.
Who runs the social media page?
J: Amber does the DM’s because they are all about money. I do the majority of the post. But, we collaborate on all of them.
A: She does the pictures and I’m sort of in charge of the captions.
How important do you think social media is when starting a business?
J: For me, it’s helped but Amber is really good at selling to people.
How do you determine your prices
J: It’s kind of like what we think is fair. Because we are all college students. I kind of go by what I would pay for a headband. Like what would make us money, give a good amount to charity and still be affordable
A: We take into account our expenses, the time we are putting into it, the charity and along with that our competitors. Our headbands are easily half of our competitor’s prices, which I think is a huge advantage.
How do people purchase from you guys?
A: They can DM us on Instagram to place an order
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start a business like yours?
A: I would say start with a good foundation and a plan of how you want to do everything. Take into consideration how you want to organize the whole thing.
J: I would say go for it and just find someone else to do it with. If I didn’t have Amber, I wouldn’t sell anything. Having Amber do the financials while I make the product helps a lot. And I always have someone to bounce ideas off of.
Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you want to say?
J: Please reach out if you ever want to collab or have a charity you want us to include ………because we are always happy to work with people.