A Fashionable Business Plan

Project Springboard winner Kelly Heisler poses with Scott Harbaugh '86, left, his brother Mark '91, right, and Turner School Director Dr. Gerry Hills.

By Frank Radosevich II
April 29, 2013

The clothes make the man, as the old saying goes. But thanks to closets full of mass-produced garments, busy schedules and changing waistlines, looking sharp can be challenging. That’s where Bradley senior Kelly Heisler cuts in.

Studying entrepreneurship and retail merchandising, Heisler created her own clothing alteration and repair business, called Sew Convenient. Her company will meet customers in their home or office, take their measurements, pick up and alter the clothes before delivering the finished piece later.

“It’s an alterations business with a twist,” she said. “My twist is that I’ll be traveling to my customers to pick up the garments and fit them there.”

An avid seamstress since high school, Heisler also designs custom-made clothes for her clientele and received a substantial boost from Bradley for her business. Sew Convenient won first place at the Foster College of Business’ seventh annual Project Springboard Competition.

Heisler, who’s already made more than 15 custom-designed garments, said the encouragement from the business plan contest is a great helping hand to Sew Convenient, which she plans working on fulltime after graduating in May. Her first order of business after winning she said is to “buy more sewing machines.”

Project Springboard provides students with real-life experience in developing and executing business plans. This project encourages students to work together across disciplines to become budding entrepreneurs in the formation, start up and early growth stages of promising businesses.

“Springboard inspires and challenges our students’ creativity, encourages them to take risks and explore opportunities with a real-world payoff at the conclusion of their work,” President Joanne Glasser said. “We need innovative thinkers who look to the future and say, ‘Let’s do something that hasn’t been tried before.’ Our Springboard competitors are those creative thinkers.”

Several teams vied for this year’s Springboard prizes. PrintVersity, a student-run print and design business for clothing or promotional products, took second place, while third place went to eInventory, a company that would help buy and sell excess inventory online. Honorable mention was Cabinet Clean Out, an organization that encourages people to make healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Valued at more than $100,000, the first place prize includes a $7,500 cash prize, underwritten by Ditch Witch Midwest/The Harbaugh Family, as long as students establish the business. The prize also includes consulting services from both Junction Ventures and the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship; office space at the Peoria Next Innovation Center; marketing consultation from Converse Marketing; insurance advice from Gallagher Coyle; legal services from Miller, Hall and Triggs, and accounting and technology services from CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP.

The competition, open to Bradley students in all majors, was established in spring 2007 as the result of a gift from Alexis Khazzam of Junction Ventures to the University.