Racking Up Sales On Alumna's Website
It started as a small seed of an idea, but Briana Pashcow (B.S.B.A. 2008) nurtured it throughout her years of undergraduate study in business and marketing entrepreneurship.
And now, after years of hard work following her graduation, the idea to start her own business has sprouted.
Pashcow’s new online business — Rack It Up — which went live online in June, pairs interested clothing buyers with Internet sales deals offered by fashion designers and stores. Her service helps those buyers track and purchase specific items as they go on sale at the various retail websites.
Users install the “Rack It Up” button by dragging it up to their bookmarks bar. The potential buyers then place the items they are interested in purchasing into a virtual “closet,” and when those items pop up for sale from any of Rack It Up’s partners, the buyers receive notification so a purchase can be made.
And the buyers can be quite specific about their personal sizes and color preferences, customizing the site to their needs.
“We get full inventory feeds from our partners, and from our end we’re doing the tracking,” Pashcow said, noting the website, www.rackituponline.com, has 68 brand name partnerships so far.
“We monitor their sites constantly for sales so the second anything drops that someone has in their virtual closet on Rack It Up, we’re able to email them a sales alert.”
Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Lord & Taylor are just a few of the site’s partners. Rack It Up users play a big role in selecting the partnerships they’d like to see on the site, said Pashcow.
She also said her company is working with smaller boutiques around the country to add as partners because these smaller stores offer similar goods but often at better prices.
Rack It Up currently features women’s clothing. Men’s fashions will also be available starting this month, and Pashcow is looking to add home furnishings and accessories and children’s clothing at some point.
Pashcow said the idea for the site came from her dissatisfaction with what other fashion sales sites had to offer.
“I had been signed up with other sites, and would receive sale alerts for a pair of shoes or dress I loved,” she said. “But when I’d go to purchase the item, it was only available in an extra small or extra large, so I found the process disappointing.”
Other sites would also have “countdown clocks” for when the sale would end, which lead to added pressure and unnecessary purchases, she added. “I didn’t necessarily need what I was buying, but it was a designer that I liked and it was on sale, and I had 12 minutes and counting to make a decision about it.”
Pashcow said she knew she could do better, so she and a childhood friend got to work on developing the idea. “Some of the features we have our competitors don’t. Those websites are kind of corporate and cold,” she said. “We wanted to create something that you’d want to go on, that is warm and friendly and extremely customized.”
Rack It Up also has a community feature so users can see what others are racking up in their closets. They can re-rack items that catch their eyes, comment on selections, and follow their friends.
Pashcow works from D.C., while her friend and business partner is based in New York.
In addition to being CEO of Rack It Up, Pashcow had worked for the past five years as a producer and office manager for The McLaughlin Group, a syndicated half-hour weekly public affairs television program.
But, she added, “during that whole time, I couldn’t stop thinking about starting a business. When I was thinking about going to graduate business school, I had this idea for the company and decided I had enough knowledge behind me and work experience to just move forward and take a risk.”
Meanwhile, her site has attracted about 600 users with approximately 20 being added each day.
She credits her professors at CUA with inspiring her and teaching her the fundamentals of marketing. Andrew Abela, dean of the School of Business and Economics and associate professor of marketing, in particular, provided much inspiration, she said.
“I took most of my marketing classes with him,” Pashcow said. “It was my interest in marketing that got me thinking about starting a company. I had some really great professors I reached out to once I started my company, just thanking them for everything. They kept me positive. They were always so encouraging.”