By: Sean Davey
From The Corp to GUASFCU, or even Thirty Seventh, Georgetown prides itself on being a university that encourages entrepreneurship at the undergraduate level, particularly through student initiatives and organizations. Step into any club info session and the phrase you’re most likely to hear goes something along the lines of “oldest and largest student-run” credit union, non-profit, consulting agency, etc. Though these organizations dominate much of our campus’ extracurricular and social environment, the plethora of early-phase startups on the Hilltop goes to show that there still exists ample space for innovation. One such startup is Hilltop Tie Rental, a service founded by Kamar Mack, COL’19. A freshman computer science major from Tennessee, Kamar traces his inspiration for the startup back to his high school days doing Model UN. “First of all, I own a ridiculous number of ties. I own like 40 neckties. In high school, I did debate and Model UN, which is why I ended up collecting this insane number. Over break, I realized I could make a real business out of this,” he said. The service offers neckties, bow-ties, and a number of accessories like handkerchiefs and watches for students in need of formalwear during interview season, formal season, or whenever the occasion arises.
Mack names a number of factors as motivation for founding the service. As a prospective Computer Science and Italian double major, likely with a minor in Economics, he notes the intersection among these fields as key to a career in the e-commerce business. “I think the Comp Sci. and Economics will complement each other really well, and Italian will be very beneficial when I start working in the clothing industry. I want to fix the problem of shoppers not knowing what size to order when they order online,” he said. Mack’s academic areas of interest have always veered toward technology, but it was through his involvement in high school Model UN and debate that he discovered his love for clothing. “When I was younger, I used to love math, and I was always fascinated with technology. When I was a senior in high school, I took a course in Computer Science, and I realized that it was my academic passion. Through debate and Model UN, I started paying more attention to my clothing, and I realized I could merge my two passions through e-commerce,” Kamar elaborated.
In order to get the business off the ground, Mack turned to two forms of marketing that are extremely popular on the Hilltop- social media and flyering. He describes the process as beginning with a website that displays the merchandise, and evolving into a Facebook and flyer campaign that would attract attention from the student body. “Being a computer science major, I made a website over break that allowed me to post all of the pictures of my ties and rent them out,” he said. Rather than spending money purchasing ties that he could then rent out, Mack is careful to note that he uses his own resources for the business, stating, “I didn’t buy any extra ties, I just used the ones I had.” The flyer, a difficult-to-miss blue sheet of paper that can be found in virtually any residence hall on campus, features an image of a supposed Georgetown student in the center contemplating a trip to M Street. Of the design process, Kamar discloses, “My original flyer design was very boring and bland, but we decided to include a person who resembles the customer. No one wants to spend $75 on M street. If you just need a necktie for an interview or a debate conference, you end up having to go to M Street.” This consumer predicament, Mack notes, is exactly the one Hilltop Tie Rental aims to resolve.
Assistance in this venture has come from many corners of the Georgetown community, he divulges. “So far, I have done a lot with the library, especially in the Gellardin Media Center. I am also in the Entrepreneurship LLC, and there are so many training sessions that are geared toward general entrepreneurship skills, ones that have really been helpful with the tie rental service,” Mack said. Going forward, he hopes that this service will be of assistance to students who may not own the dress wear required of certain settings. “Because everything at Georgetown is very competitive in nature, it’s important to dress well at events and interviews. I feel that through the tie rental service, I can be a resource for Georgetown students who might not have the ties they need to wear,” he elaborated. As for his goals for the future, Kamar mentions purchasing a domain for the website and revamping it as his primary objective. He will be featured in the Thirty Seventh x GUSA Sustainability Fashion Show in April, and following that, he hopes to expand his team to include a Chief Marketing Officer and a Director of Social Media. On the whole, however, Mack says his goal for the service can be summed up with a simple statement: “I need a necktie, I should go to Hilltop Tie Rental.” Though these are early days yet for the startup, Mack’s passion for entrepreneurship and the merchandise behind this venture indicate big things to come.