Economic Development and Small Business & Startups

Designer wins 5x5 Night

September 3, 2015
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Pieces of Me app
The Pieces of Me business would create unique designs for customers based on their personality traits. Courtesy Pieces of Me

A graphic designer is looking to create unique designs for various items based on a person’s personality traits.

Pieces of Me, a business concept using self- and peer-identified personality traits to create unique designs for customers, was awarded $5,000 during the August emerge 5x5 Night at Start Garden in Grand Rapids.

The idea

Created by Elsa Vogel, Pieces of Me would allow the customer, their family and friends to select several personality traits from a list of roughly 40 pre-determined traits to compile their top-reported characteristics to generate a custom design.

Each trait would be matched with its corresponding icon or pattern and produce a visual representation of the individual’s personality for a variety of merchandise.

“I originally came up with the concept in a graphic design class in college,” Vogel said. “It was kind of exploring my personality through other people, and I ended up coming up with a set of icons. You can wear your personality proudly, and it was a really positive experience for me, so I wanted to try and bring it to other people.”

With six personality trait options, the ability to re-arrange the pattern and change the color scheme, Vogel said the idea is every single Pieces of Me design will be unique.

“It is truly the idea of customized,” Vogel said.

Development stages

As a recent graduate with a degree in graphic design from Bowling Green State University, Vogel participated in an entrepreneurial program leading up to a pitch competition known as the Hatch.

After working with a mentor for roughly 10 weeks earlier this year, developing a business plan and pitching to a panel of five investors, Vogel said she secured promised funding from the entire panel.

“I have promised funding, but they want me to develop my proof of concept before they do so,” Vogel said. “So that is what I am working on right now, furthering my business plan and proof of concept.”

To validate the proof of concept for Pieces of Me, Vogel has a two-step phase intended to target two consumers, with the initial audience comprising women in their late 20s making up to $100,000 interested in high-end retail products and then targeting the millennial generation when the business hits mass market.

“I would like to start selling higher-end dresses and then bring it to mass market with the mobile application,” Vogel said. “I am working on the development of that first phase, and I am hoping to launch that in a couple of months, a pretty simple website able to target a very high-end consumer to create one-of-a-kind dresses.”

The long-term goal is to develop a mobile application along with a web-based platform leveraging an algorithm to create the custom products.

The patterns would be available for purchase on merchandise, such as shirts, dresses, mobile phone cases and scarves.

Initial funding

Although Vogel secured promised funding from the 2015 Hatch event, she was in position where she wouldn’t receive any financial support from the investors until developing the proof of concept further.

Vogel said winning 5x5 Night and being awarded $5,000 was the missing piece she needed.

“It is absolutely huge for me,” Vogel said. “I have this promised funding but didn’t receive anything yet, so I was in a spot where I was stuck. I am very excited about it. I am really grateful for 5x5 Night.”

The $5,000 in funding will go toward testing focus groups, additional market research, testing materials and producing sample products. 

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