Wouldn’t it be nice if the clothes you ordered online were guaranteed to fit? When you’re a size eight at one store and a small at another, online shopping can be a challenge that leaves you feeling insecure and with a pile of clothes to return.
Northeastern student Katie Wilhoit founded Unsize to take the guesswork out of online shopping and “eliminate the need for sizes, labels, and gender boxes.”
Unsize, which is expected to be available to the public by the end of the year, will use body measurements to determine what clothing will fit which online shoppers. In its current iteration, subscribers will receive a device to measure the size of their waist, legs, and arms.
The device will use colors instead of numbers to assess fit. Your waist won’t be 32 inches wide, it will be teal or red or purple or any one of a number of other colors.
“Often ventures start from home or out of garages while the entrepreneur works another job or goes to school. This is the first time they are getting a chance to work on their ventures full time.”
“I want to help build confidence and not put people into boxes,” said Wilhoit, a fifth-year student who is studying international affairs, design, and social entrepreneurship.
She is now working on co-op at the Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education at Northeastern, where she is running focus groups to find out what potential customers want Unsize to be and developing a prototype for a web app to connect uses with online shopping sites.
Wilhoit is the sixth student to work on co-op at the Sherman Center since the center opened in 2014.
“We give students the gift of time,” said Ted Johnson, the assistant director of the Sherman Center. “Often ventures start from home or out of garages while the entrepreneur works another job or goes to school. This is the first time they are getting a chance to work on their ventures full time.”
Wilhoit, who came up with the idea for Unsize while sitting at a café waiting for her mom to finish shopping, has been working on the startup for the past year. She said she likes to wear masculine clothing but finds shopping in the men’s department to be frustrating and struggles to find the right sizes online.
“I always knew I wanted to start a business,” said Wilhoit, who turned to Scout, Northeastern’s student-led design studio, to help her design a website for Unsize. “I knew I would just have a feeling in my gut when I found the right idea and I had that feeling with Unsize.”
Wilhoit hopes Unsize will build confidence in shoppers and benefit retailers who spend millions of dollars each year to process returns.
“Things change as the students grow and learn what things are working and what things aren’t,” said Johnson. “That’s why our focus at the Sherman Center is primarily on developing the students as entrepreneurs.”