Sure, college can be difficult when your best friend lives across the country. But how about running an international lifestyle brand together while living 1950 miles apart? Two college-age women have done just that: one hailing from Boston College, and the other from the University of Texas at Austin.
Started in January of 2015, the company, called the 1950 Collective, has grown significantly, with currently almost 50,000 followers on Instagram. On June 9, the company expanded even more with the launching of their new app now available in the Apple App Store. On the first day alone, the app had 1500+ downloads.
“Our fans have been begging for an app since our initial launch but we never saw the value in it,” says co-founder and Boston College student, Angela Jin, CSOM '17. It wasn’t until recently that they realized the app would be easy to create, and that it would serve as a new major bonus interactive platform for customers.
“The main draw for us is that we can send push notifications directly to customers to highlight new arrivals, exclusive deals, and flash sales,” explains Jin.
While the company got its start creating fandom One Direction t-shirts with unique designs, 1950 Collective has developed into an empowering lifestyle brand, selling shirts with pithy quotes to fancy skin care products made right in the USA. With shirts and sweaters saying, “Favorite Position: CEO” and “Terrorism has no Religion,” 1950 Collective has made a name for itself as a brand for social justice and women's empowerment.
“We want to use 1950 to fix some problems we see in the fashion/beauty industry—ike lack of representation or using scare tactics to make customers feel the need to buy because something is 'wrong' with them. We also hope to work with more wonderful charities,” says co-founder Nishiki Maredia, a rising junior at UT Austin.
1950 Collective ships internationally, and the company donates 10% of their profits each month to a different social justice organization. For example, 10% of profits from Shameless Skincare, a skincare brand sold on their website, goes to support domestic violence burn victims. Their care for more than just a profit shines in many facets of their company.
With such a small staff, namely the two co-founders and one Operations Manager, the company has really made a name for itself. “1950's growth has been unbelievably exponential,” says Maredia. “It was definitely overwhelming last holiday season, but since then, we've been working with shipping warehouses and freelance designers, which has been helpful.”
It’s apparent through their diverse roles in the company that the founders of 1950 Collective truly practice what they preach, in terms of women’s empowerment. Jin is the brand strategy manager, website designer and manager, marketing coordinator, and app developer.
To sum up what she does in a few words, Jin explains, “I work on curating content for our marketing channels (social media, email campaigns, ads), tweak the website to match launch promotions, and work with our app developer. My focus is to get the customers to our store and optimize their experience once they're here.”
Maredia, on the other hand, holds the roles of the buyer, finance manager, PR director, and philanthropy coordinator. “Day to day, I focus on collaborating with designers and wholesalers to get the best products available for 1950 to work with. I also search for ambassadors, charities, and news outlets we think would represent our brand well,” she says.
Along with the founders, rising BC junior Meredith Reilly, CSOM ’18, came aboard when Jin and Maredia posted on Facebook that they were looking for an intern. “I started working with them last September and I think my changing role within the company is a true testament to their rapid success,” explains Reilly.
Reilly began as a packing intern, where she would help organize and pack shirts to be mailed out to customers worldwide, all within Jin’s college dorm room. Since the rapid growth of the company, Reilly has put her packing days behind her.
“The company has grown so greatly that we had to upgrade to a more efficient and streamlined shipping service,” says Reilly. As operations manager, Reilly oversees all of the inventory and shipping that has been outsourced, ensuring that it stays true to the 1950 Collective brand and values.
“It is not One Direction or any of the other popular fandoms or girl power related items that make 1950 so successful, it is Angela and Nishiki,” says Reilly. “Their personalities are contagious and it is so great to see their unique humor reflected in their products, their site, and all their social media.”
While Jin and Maredia are excited about how far their company has come, they hope to continue in a positive direction. “As we grow, we hope to become an all-encompassing social justice and pop culture lifestyle brand where people like to shop because they see their interests and selves represented,” says Maredia.
“They are truly both one of a kind and it is super cool to see how they each channel this into 1950," says Reilly. "Of course, as seen by their growing success, it definitely pays off."