Alumna Rachel Sipperley Launching ‘Rent My Wardrobe’ App

By Delaney MacKenzie

Alumni Spotlight Header 3I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Grand Valley alumna Rachel Sipperley by phone to learn about her time at GVSU and her journey since graduation. Because she dual enrolled in college courses while in high school, Sipperley came to GVSU with junior standing. She graduated early and debt-free in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations. After graduation, she set her sights on Dallas, with its market fit for up-and-coming professionals. She made the move to Texas without the comfort of knowing anyone there.

Since moving to Texas, Sipperley has made one return trip to the GVSU campus. She revisited her college days while giving her high school senior cousin a tour of GVSU last summer.

“The campus looked completely different than when I went there,” she said.

She was also impressed to hear that last year was the first year Grand Valley had the same number of undergraduates as the University of Michigan.

When reflecting on her years as a student in the Advertising and Public Relations program, Rachel shared one of her favorite memories: her final senior project in Professor Peggy Howard’s class, where she conducted a full PR analysis for Hudsonville Ice Cream. At the end of the project, she toured their factory, sampled some ice cream, and visited the corporate offices.

Sipperley’s first couple of jobs in Texas ranged from working at a local church to being a top sales executive for a few different companies. Although she was very successful in these roles, her position as sales executive was eliminated from each of those companies. Disappointed at her loss of job security, she decided to create her own business using her knowledge and experience.

Dallas is a lively city full of exciting functions each month, and with that comes the need to get new formal attire to wear. So Sipperley came up with the idea for an app, Rent My Wardrobe, which serves as a type of online community closet.

“A lot of companies that have blown up in the last few years are centered around this idea of facilitating a peer-to-peer exchange, but not actually selling a product or service, like Uber and Airbnb,” she explains. “It’s about creating a platform for consumers to interact with each other.”

Sipperly
Alumna Rachel Sipperley started a wardrobe sharing app in Dallas.

So that is exactly what her app does. Rent My Wardrobe’s goal is to target cities with a high concentration of professionals in their mid-twenties who regularly attend galas and charity events. These are women who are seeking to “rent” others’ dresses in order to save money and not have to buy a brand-new dress of their own.

Sipperley’s journey in starting her own business began with teaming up with developers to assist with the overall design and aesthetic of the app. She also hired people to handle the coding and to ensure the uploading process of the app runs smoothly.

“Even though my degree is in Advertising and Public Relations, I never had any classes or formal education on developing an app because this wasn’t around back then, Sipperley said. “Marketing and advertising has changed drastically the past eight years, especially through social media.”

The experience of launching her own business has shown her a new side of advertising through social media. She has been connecting with online influencers from all over the nation to spread the word about her app and gain followers.

The app is launching this spring.

You can read more about Rent My Wardrobe on its website, or find the app on social media:

Facebook: Rent My Wardrobe

Instagram: @rentmywardrobeapp

Twitter: @rmwapp

Pinterest: Rent My Wardrobe

NSAC Team Wins District 6 Competition

Grand Valley State University’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team took first place in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6 competition on April 21st. AAF District 6 is a “mega-district” due to the large number of collegiate teams competing from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois who are all vying for a chance to move forward to the finals at the AAF National Convention—known as ADmerica—taking place in New Orleans in June.

NSAC team
(Pictured from left to right) Front row: Addison Wittry, Elizabeth Konen, Rachael Vruggink, James Sturtridge, Alex Rabideau, faculty advisor Robin Spring. Second row: Joey Parks, Bethany Garcia, Hawra Al-Howaishy, Marai Behovitz, and Kat Wille. Third row: Jaclyn Waligora, Kate Lewis, Madeline Schaefer, Theresa Wierenga, and Alex Knaisel. Fourth row: Dan Goobers, Ari Zucker, Abbie Fielding, and Ashley Barrett.

 

 

 

The team, comprised of 19 students, crafted an advertising campaign to meet specific objectives for national client Tai Pei frozen foods. Assistant Professor Robin Spring, of the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations Program, was the team’s advisor.  Students worked on the project for two semesters by conducting research, refining strategy, producing tactics, and perfecting their campaign plans book and 20-minute presentation.

The District 6 competition was broken into two tracks, with Grand Valley’s team placing first in the Blue Track, ahead of other schools, including: Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Purdue-West Lafayette, Ball State, University of Illinois and others. Grand Valley edged out Western Michigan University and Ball State University in the final round.

“The amount of talent on the team is incredible,” said Addison Wittry, one of the Account Executives of the project. “When that is paired with the hard work and dedication we had, it was no surprise that we were successful.”

“Our team’s diverse skillsets were the real game changer,” said Rachael Vruggink, the team’s second Account Executive. “We weren’t all just creatives or strategists, but a well-rounded group from different majors and backgrounds. This took our critical thinking, strategy, and creative from good to great.”

The team will compete in a semi-final round on May 4th. Of approximately 150 competing across the US, just eight move on to the national finals in June. This is the third time Grand Valley has placed first in the district in the 10 years they’ve competed in the contest.   The National Student Advertising Competition was started in 1973 and is the oldest and largest student advertising competition.

Grand Valley State University NSAC 2017 team members include:

  • Rachael Vruggink       Account Executive, Presentation Team
  • Addison Wittry           Account Executive
  • James Sturtridge          Creative Director, Video/Photography
  • Elizabeth Konen          Research Director, Presentation Team
  • Mari Behovitz             Integrated Promotions Director
  • Abbie Fielding             Media Planning Director
  • Alex Rabideau             Account Planning, Integrated Promotions, Presentation Team
  • Ari Zucker                   Account Planning, Media, Presentation Team
  • Dan Goubert               Creative Team, Copywriting
  • Joey Parks                   Creative Team, Graphics
  • Madeline Schaefer       Creative Team, Graphics
  • Alex Knaisel               Research Team, Treasurer
  • Bethany Garcia            Research Team
  • Kat Wille                     Research Team
  • Jaclyn Waligora           Media Planning
  • Kate Lewis                  Media Planning
  • Theresa Wierenga        Integrated Promotions
  • Ashley Barrett             Integrated Promotions
  • Hawra Al-Howaishy   Fundraising