SRU student’s online apparel venture just makes (fashion) sense
April 3, 2019
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Throughout the academic year, hundreds of students filter through Slippery Rock University's Office of Career Education and Development looking for help in answering the age-old question: "What am I going to do after graduation?" For Angella Dipasquale, a sophomore dual fine arts and English writing major from Valencia, the answer is simple: keep on doing what she's doing.
As the co-founder and co-CEO of Angella Di-Signs, a specialty apparel company that deals in uniquely designed canvas sneakers, hats and outerwear, Dipasquale has found what she believes to be her calling.
Angella Di-Signs, which gets its name from its co-founder, was launched more than a year ago when a family friend approached Dipasquale about a pair of shoes she had designed for herself.
"I asked for a pair of Converse high-top sneakers for Christmas last year," Dipasquale said. "I received a pair of white ones and I felt inspired to paint this red, abstract design on them so that they'd stand out. A family friend, Jamie Kerestes, saw them and when she did, she thought we might be able to come together with me doing designs and her handling the sales. I came up with a couple of designs and thought it would be a great way to start getting my name out there as an artist."
Dipasquale would spend the remainder of the winter break developing prototype designs that Kerestes would put in front of Marketplace Sellers, an Amazon selling partner located in Norcross, Georgia that consults and manages product across a variety of online marketplaces. "For two weeks, I sat in the dining room working like a maniac to create designs."
Kerstes, co-founder and co-CEO with Dipasquale, then took the designs and concept to Marketplace Sellers for consideration while Dipasquale returned to SRU for the spring semester. Shortly after Dipasquale was back on campus, Marketplace Sellers agreed to carry Angella Di-Signs as one of their product lines.
"We started with a total of 24 pairs of shoes, with sizes ranging from infant to adult, and after finalizing the designs last summer, we shipped them to Amazon and then had them uploaded to the site," Dipasquale said.
"We had a soft launch at the end of October and immediately sold 12 pairs of shoes. We were super excited about that, especially since we didn't do any advertising and the sales were to people who just stumbled across them (on the site). We then realized we needed to produce product on a much larger scale if interest started to pick up and if we wanted to keep up with growing the business. We purchased a huge, direct-to-garment printer to address that (situation). It sits in my laundry room."
Utilizing the printer, Dipasquale mounts shoes onto a plate, pulls up the desired design using a connected computer, and, after manipulating the image for placement, prints the design to the shoe.
The two primary designs that Dipasquale features are a combination of retro, pop art gumballs and lipstick.
Dipasquale and Kerstes have other designs on the docket that will be unveiled later this year, including a pair of shoe patterns, two different hat patterns, a fall jacket and the introduction of T-shirts that will launch with a trio of designs.
Dipasquale said the planned inventory expansion is in response to rising product sales during the past few months and the desire to offer customers a wider selection of products.
As the company grows, Dipasquale hopes to one day get involved with charitable events where she will be able to produce one-off apparel that can be auctioned off as a fundraiser. She would particularly like to partner with health organizations with newborn intensive care units, having been born premature herself.
"(The day I was born) there were three families at the hospital expecting to leave with their babies, but one left empty handed because (the baby) just wasn't strong enough yet," said Dipasquale. "It's sad and made me think about how it could have been me. While I was fortunate to be one of the babies that got to go home after a short time, for some, the hospital stay can be a long one. I would like to see all parents be able to go home with the baby they've been dreaming about, rather than having to leave him or her behind for a time."
Dipasquale is also excited to see how Angella Di-Signs will grow as she pursues other aspirations that include film and television production. "This is a company that comes naturally to me as I love to draw and doodle ... it's something fun that doesn't come off as 'work,'" she said. "It provides an opportunity for me to stake my name as an artist and hopefully that will come in handy in the future as I expand my career. It has made me hopeful for the future."
To learn more about Angella Di-Signs, click here.
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