By Erica Tropp
It has been seven months since University of Maryland junior Michelle Shahparast and her brother Sean launched her consignment clothing business Unwritten, and the success of her business has been unbelievable, she said.
Unwritten fills a need for trendy, inexpensive clothing for University of Maryland girls, said Shahparast. “The closest places to shop are at the mall down on East-West Highway, but girls need cars to get there so it’s not really realistic,” said Shahparast. “And [the mall] doesn’t have name brands like Free People or anything; its just cheap stuff. And Cloud 9, even though that’s not around anymore, was just really expensive.”
As a consignment business, young women can sell articles of their clothing to Unwritten, and other girls have the opportunity to buy them for less than they were originally priced.
Unwritten was launched as only a website on April 1. Shahparast described it as the best way to provide young women with reasonably priced clothing of brands they like while also allowing girls the opportunity to make quick money. The business began as a small team: Shahparast and her brother as the founders and CEOs, plus a marketer and a photographer.
According to Shahparast, word spread quickly, but as she started to expand, Unwritten has made significant changes and the, now much larger team, is doing something different every day.
“On Tuesdays we go around campus and find a girl who looks really trendy, and we do a little bio on her that day on our Facebook page,” said Shahparast.
Unwritten hosts popup events at sororities each week, where the team goes to a sorority house with a clothing rack. There, girls can do consignment appointments, shop or just look at things and order them later on the website.
“Our likes on Facebook skyrocketed this semester,” said Shahparast. “We came into the school year with maybe 300 likes and within the first week it was up by 100.”
On Sept. 12, Unwritten launched a blog to accompany the website, which features articles on fashion, lifestyle, events at the university, pop culture and more, said Shahparast.
Earlier today, Nov. 4, the Unwritten team hosted a flash fashion show on McKeldin Mall. Seven models walked the path by the sundial, styled in runway-like winter and fall fashions with masquerade masks. One model held speakers that blasted music and others held signs. After they walked, the models handed out lollipops with flyers on them outside McKeldin Library.
“It didn’t really have much information because the signs just said Unwritten, but it caught people’s eye and makes them more interested in what Unwritten is,” said sophomore Aly Meyer, a member of the Unwritten marketing team. “Then if they got the lollipops, that has more information about our social media like our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and stuff like that.”
“We really wanted to spark attention in a different way, not just doing a booth or table, but something unexpected,” said Shahparast.
Shahparast believes that a lot of their success this semester has come from being more rebellious in their marketing and doing things to promote themselves in ways that other entrepreneurs aren’t doing.
“It’s just a really easy way to buy cute stuff,” said sophomore Lauren Eisner. “It’s just as good as ordering clothes from real store, except it’s less than half the price.”