Deep down, we probably all harbor some dream of breaking into the fashion industry and starting our own business. And at age 16, Amanda Glass did just that with her company Hipstapatch. Always a creative thinker (she started a photography company at age 15), Glass saw a lack in the style and applicability of one her favorite customizable pieces–fabric patches. So she got to the design board and created miniature, hand-drawn, fabric embroidered patches with a sticky backing that can be used on nearly any surface.
And all this was just six months ago. Hipstapatch has already incurred a cult following, and we can see why. In addition to its namesake online shop, Glass has now hand drawn more than 40 designs, the patches are sold in stores like Nylon shop, Mixology and Kyle by Alene Too.
Glass, now a high school senior, chatted with us about her startup journey and the product, and provided some major beyond-her-years entrepreneurial knowledge. Her success is just another reminder that there is no excuse standing between you and your dreams.
the Lala: Did you always dream of starting your own business?
Amanda: I’ve always had big dreams ever since I was a little girl, but I must say that starting and running my own business had always seemed a little bit too big for me. Now that Hipstapatch is going at full-speed, I can’t imagine myself anywhere else except in the entrepreneur world. It really is the best place to be.
the Lala: Where did the idea come from?
Amanda: I was actually online shopping one night for sneakers (an obsession of mine), and every single shoe looked the same to me. They were all missing that little spark or flare that would normally catch a buyer’s eye. I wanted something that could dress up my shoes and show off my personality at the same time… after all, I’m a firm believer that your shoes say a lot about you! Soon enough, I came up with the idea of having mini, non-removable patches to place on sneakers. As time went on, we decided to make the patches removable and marketed them towards other patchable surfaces – I think the most popular today is definitely the cell phone case!
the Lala: So we want to know what the startup process was like?
Amanda: I was 16 at the time and was heading into the end of my junior year of high school – I’m sure you can imagine how over my head I was with schoolwork. From the time that I thought of the idea, it took about five months to actually launch the business. I spent weeks brainstorming, scouring the internet and (with some help from my mom) calling and visiting suppliers who could turn my designs into the product I had envisioned. Lots of market research and testing followed. I created a website and online shop and fired up our Instagram account, and the rest is history. From our launch date, we have been going nowhere but up!
the Lala: What about this product has made it such a success?
Amanda: I think the greatest thing about Hipstapatch is that people have never seen anything like this before. Sure, patches have been around for as long as we can remember – in fact, they were one of the most iconic fashion styles years ago. Now, we are bringing that beloved trend back, with a millennial twist and without the need for an iron, needle, and thread or holes to mend. Now teens to adults can customize their belongings with cool, hip patches that show off their style and personality, all for a super reasonable price.
the Lala: Why do you love fashion, and what is it about fashion today that has made this such a success?Amanda: I love fashion because it is limitless and entirely individual. It’s just like art in that there are no boundaries as to what you can create. I also love how it’s always changing, evolving and growing. You really just never know what amazing new trend will pop up next. What has made Hipstapatch such a success is it’s ability to be placed pretty much anywhere and to allow one to customize their life as they want. You don’t need an iPhone case, backpack or hat to buy one. As a matter of fact, I stuck one on my Psychology notebook the other day. Who would’ve known!
the Lala: How do you balance school/life/and the business?
Amanda: It is no easy task. This past summer, I lived and breathed Hipstapatch – doing everything possible to help make the company bigger and better. Now that I have started my senior year and am starting to apply to colleges, I obviously don’t have as much free time as I did during the summer months, so my mom has been helping out. But, I always love being occupied, so I’ve been incorporating Hipstapatch into my daily routine while trying to get everything school-wise done at the same time. I love the creative freedom I’m given in coming up with new designs and product ideas, and I’m fortunately able to carve time out of my schedule to fit in some designing sessions and work after school or on weekends.
the Lala: So walk us through the day-to-day life of a high school entrepreneur?
Amanda: Busy! Between school and Hipstapatch, there is literally never a free moment. Luckily, I love to be busy, so this is right up my alley. My weekdays start with school, then I work on Hipstapatch design, marketing, and our social media in the afternoon (plus plenty of homework). Weekends I typically photograph, catch up on anything from the week, or study… also, I always make sure to have time to hang out with my friends.
the Lala: What marketing techniques have you found most effective?
Amanda: Instagram is definitely our largest marketing medium right now. I’m a huge fan of Instagram so I try to keep our account attractive to girls, guys and customers my age range. I also try to take photos of the patches as often as I can to post, but we love nothing more than seeing our customers post their own photos, too! We’ve been so fortunate to have been noticed by some awesome bloggers and fashionistas, and this has generated a lot of interest from stores in carrying our product.
the Lala: What do you wish someone had told you about running a business before it started?
Amanda: Be patient! Empires were not built in a day. Your business must be nurtured like your own baby – time and devotion must be put forth in able to see your company grow and succeed. I had absolutely no idea what kind of a commitment running a business was, mostly because I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever be in this kind of position, especially at this age. Life loves to throw curveballs at you, and luckily for me, I couldn’t have been thrown a better pitch.
the Lala: And let’s get serious. What is the most difficult part of a start up?
Amanda: The hardest part for any new business is getting your product out there. Fortunately, we’ve had a very quick start – still under five months old, and we’re definitely making some great progress. I would love nothing more than to see a billboard advertisement for Hipstapatch smack in the middle of Times Square (foreshadowing, possibly?), but of course, we are still taking things one step at a time.
the Lala: What do you think is an excellent trait for being an entrepreneur?
Amanda: You definitely have to be dedicated and open minded. If you don’t love your business and are not willing to make sacrifices for it, then it’s probably not going to become what you envisioned. Every business comes with a different set of challenges, so having an open mind and flexibility is the key to succeeding. I’ve learned very quickly that entrepreneurs must constantly work with their companies to reach the next level – it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends and to listen to your customers’ needs. But, at the same time, it’s also important to show the world products that are new and exciting!
the Lala: So you’re already a success, but what are your future goals for the company?
Amanda: As any founder of a company would, I want to see Hipstapatch explode in the absolute best way possible. It brings the biggest smile to my face when I see teens, college students and adults alike rocking their patches on their phones and bags, key fobs and accessories. Something I’m really excited about is that we’re starting a rep program, where people 18 years and older can earn extra money selling Hipstapatch while spreading the word across college campuses and beyond (stay tuned).
And if the product weren’t already adorable, Hipstapatch gives back a portion of the profits to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Educational Fund (ILADEF).
Photo credit @hungryhipsters