From Bows to Buttons: UCF Alumnae Start Successful Small Businesses
Enterprising personalities, a flair for fashion and a dash of school spirit make up the recipe for success for two University of Central Florida alumnae.
From bows to buttons, the journey to entrepreneurship for Loren Ferretti and Alexandra Gramatikas started at UCF.
After struggling to find affordable options to wear to each of UCF’s home games, Ferretti developed Gameday Bows, a website that sells bows in school colors that can be worn at football games or anywhere. The bows were an affordable way to ramp up the school spirit of black, gold and white outfits she already owned.
“The bow creates an accent piece that can be worn on a number of dresses and adds the perfect pop of color to represent your school’s colors,” said Ferretti, a 2009 marketing graduate who launched Gameday Bows’ web store this fall after receiving compliments on her bows and requests to buy them.
Now, she sews the bows herself and ships them across the country.
For Gramatikas, the concept for ALTR’s slip-on button covers came from a trying to find the perfect outfit for a themed party. She was in search of a traditional, preppy blazer with gold buttons. A jacket she already had worked, but the buttons weren’t quite what she wanted.
“In passing, I made a comment about wanting to change out buttons more efficiently, and from there, ALTR was born,” Gramatikas said. “It’s been an unexpected surprise, getting into an industry I never thought I’d be involved with.”
Gramatikas earned her undergraduate degree from Florida State University before enrolling in UCF’s MBA program and graduating in spring 2012.
During her last semester, Gramatikas won the College of Business Administration’s annual Joust competition, which challenges entrepreneurial students from UCF to develop business proposals and compete against one another in the hopes of being judged as having the most promising idea.
The business plan behind Gramatikas’ UCF-themed button covers won her the competition’s $10,000 prize and a year of support from the UCF Incubator.
Experience inside the classroom and from internships also helped Ferretti get her company on track.
“As a marketing major, I was placed in classes that allowed me to participate in creating business plans and marketing plans—truly hands on planning that I have utilized and continue to utilize with Gameday Bows,” she said.
But starting your own company doesn’t come without small stumbles, both women said.
For Ferretti, she’s had to balance the responsibilities of operating Gameday Bows with her full-time marketing job. With ALTR, it took Gramatikas several months to get licensing approval for the logos on her UCF and UF button covers.
Ultimately, the women encourage other self-starters to be bold and chase their dreams.
“My advice to anyone thinking of starting their own business is get out there and go for it. With proper education and planning, it’s possible to do,” said Ferretti. “Also, ask for help. I’m surrounded by marketing professionals daily that have encouraged me and enlightened me to things I never knew possible.”
Gramatikas also encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to recruit mentors and ask for feedback.
“If you don’t talk about your idea, you won’t find the resources or get the feedback you need,” said Gramatikas. With a product, you need to not get caught up in the fact that it’s your baby. It’s your business, and it’s important to be open to constructive criticism.”