In anticipation of the final round of the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for the $15,000 Grand Prize on March 7th in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp Student Union. Learn more and register to attend the competition here.
Jasmine Snead ’19, Co-Founder & CFO – Finalist
Imani Rickerby ’17, Co-Founder & COO
Sydney Parker ’18, CMO
DC: Tell us about your startup.
Jasmine Snead: Aurora Tights designs performance apparel for dancers and ice skaters of all skin tones, shapes, and sizes. The Aurora team is comprised of a solo figure skater, a synchronized ice skater, and a dancer. As competitive athletes, we were forced to wear tights, mesh, and other paraphernalia in the wrong skin tone because our shades were not readily available. The lack of color variety posed a drawback for performance athletes because it is not aesthetically appealing to the eye and it’s frustrating to practice your passion while feeling like you’re in someone else’s skin. Additionally, overall appearance is judged in performance sports, unlike in traditional sports. In the words of Olympian Johnny Weir, “Aesthetics are still a part of the subjective scoring in figure skating.” His words are true in figure skating and in other performance sports as well.
As a solution, I learned to dye my tights to match my complexion. Years and a stained bathroom later, my mom and I perfected the process of dyeing tights and would do so before each competition. Self-dyeing is an option for athletes, but it is messy, time-consuming, expensive, and experimental to find the right shade. That is why there is a strong need for Aurora Tights to simplify the tight buying process for women of all skin tones and sizes. We believe buying tights in your shade should be as easy clicking “add to cart” online or shopping at your local sporting goods store.
DC: Have there been some key decisions or milestones along the way that have led you from an idea to now pitching for $15K?
JS: Yes, we have hit several milestones within the past year. After a long search, we found our manufacturer! Also, we participated in the Terp Startup Accelerator and I was named one of DC INNO’s 25 under 25.
DC: What have you learned from the semifinals that will help you better prepare for Finals?
JS: When we were preparing for semifinals, I memorized each slide and tried to repeat everything verbatim. This worked well because I was prepared even though I was nervous. But this time I want to have more fun with the presentation and be less rehearsed!
DC: What has your startup been working on since Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals?
JS: Since the semifinals, we have diligently been preparing for our launch! We are so excited to start selling.
DC: What are some goals you are looking to reach before Finals?
JS: Before finals, we would like to solidify our team account sales and have confirmed teams we will be partnering with during the season. Also by the pitch, we will be finished with our pre-sale orders and will officially launch sales through our website and other e-commerce platforms.
DC: If you win Pitch Dingman Competition, what will you do with the $15,000?
JS: It would be so awesome if we won the competition! The $15,000 will be put towards the production of our expanded line of tights, which includes five shades, four footings, and two sizes. With the $15,000 grant, we would be able to solidify the prototypes of our expanded line, start production, and sell our products through e-commerce and in brick and mortar stores.
If you’d like to learn more about Aurora Tights, be sure to check out:
Their feature from Terp Startup: https://dingmanblog.com/2018/06/26/terp-startup-aurora-tights-celebrates-diversity-with-athletic-apparel/
Episode #49 of Bootstrapped: https://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/centers-excellence/dingman-center-entrepreneurship/news-events/49