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July 22, 2013

Working with college girls to sell style

(Continued)

"I told her to do what she was interested in," Zuckerman said.

Mom then went to work on the business side. She did her research, which told her that college students and families spend an average of $907.22 on dorm decoration, which comes to $5.4 billion annually.

"My 25 years in design and marketing allowed me to be able to do this," said Zuckerman, who is chief creative officer of her firm. "I have a vast amount of knowledge producing anything. We figured it out."

She wrote a business plan. Built a marketing strategy. Used her creative staff at HZDG to put together brand ideas. She invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a blog, a website, and designing and manufacturing a product line. She found a company in Boston to create posters that looked like bicycles, lampposts, big flowers that give rooms a sense of style. She launched the company on three product lines: posters, wall decals and bedding.

Dormify has a licensing agreement with 15 national sororities, which allows the company to produce apparel and accessories in the sororities' names.

In its first month of operation, July 2011, Dormify brought in $6,500. A year later, it had increased its revenue to 10 times that amount. The company is expecting to earn $200,000 this month alone and break even for the year, with around $1 million in revenue.

Dormify calls itself a "social commerce company" and rents warehouse space in Reading, Pa., where its products are packaged and mailed to customers.

Zuckerman estimates the company has sold to customers at more than 300 colleges.

Nearly all of Dormify's customers are young women and their mothers, although this week it is launching a new line of "performance sheets" for men's beds.

Dormify offers free consultation online and has an average sale of $125 per customer. Zuckerman said students can decorate a dorm room for about $500. A set of sheets, a duvet and pillows start around $150.

As the going-back-to-school days approach, Dormify has opened a pop-up stand in downtown Bethesda, Md. Next year, it plans to have pop-ups in major shopping areas around the country.

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