A recent Lundquist College graduate and RAIN (Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network) Accelerator participant is looking to add a modern twist to a traditional institution.
Millennials, we’re often told, do things differently, and Jennifer Albertson ’17 says her approach to weddings is decidedly millennial. Albertson is one of several Lundquist College students and recent alumni enhancing a business plan shepherded through the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship to the RAIN Accelerator.
“Consumers want a showroom,” she said, based on her experience managing a local bridal shop in Eugene. “They want to touch the product. But they also want to manage their wedding from their smart phone.”
With Bliss Northwest Bridal, Albertson is giving brides and grooms both—a brick and mortar showroom and hands-on craft space (think DIY chalkboard signs and presentations by florists), complemented by an app-based event management experience.
Albertson sees herself and her staff as advocates and experts for the bride. She recalled helping brides with their dresses in her previous retail job who confided, “I’m so overwhelmed. Who should I use for…?” The brides would then rattle off all the needed vendors.
Albertson’s online product places verified vendors, groom and groomsmen clothing, hotel accommodations, and more all in one easy-to-manage place.
While the business lessons and insights from the Lundquist College and RAIN Accelerator were imperative, Albertson said she was also imbued by each with the idea that social responsibility is vital to building a long-term, community-oriented business. Thus, along with monthly, rotating company-wide volunteer outings, Albertson is also launching Follow Your Bliss, a scholarship program with an emphasis on mentorship to female entrepreneurs.
“A portion of all sales will fund it,” she explained. “I’ve benefitted from so much support, from the Lundquist College community and from RAIN. I wouldn’t be where I am without that. It’s important to me to keep the education piece going.”
Bliss Northwest Bridal—a full-service showroom, shop, and planning enterprise—will soon open its brick and mortar storefront in Bend, Oregon.
Among the other Lundquist College successes in this year’s RAIN Accelerator cohort is sophomore Max Chung, who aims to bring to market The Light Shield, a maker of gaming hardware for live video and computer game competitions, known as eSports. In addition, Austin Rieger ’16 cofounded Aulaine Enterprises, a skin care company focused on keeping tattooed skin beautiful and healthy with less need for touchups.
The RAIN Accelerator aims to arm founders with the essentials for scaling their business. This includes creating the right team, bringing a strong product to market, and creating a detailed operations plan, including capital-raising and a “plan of attack” for the year following the intensive, four-month process. Participants must apply and be admitted to the accelerator through a competitive process.
Both Albertson and Chung also received the $5,000 RAINmaker grant in June.