In real life, Liz Kammel Tilatti’s idea for Zipfit came during weekend carpools from Indianapolis to Chicago to attend Booth’s Weekend Program. Her fellow Booth travelers had a hard time finding jeans that fit them. Through her background selling jeans in high school and her work as a consultant, Liz knew she could solve the problem.
It was in her “MBA life” that she found the tools and inspiration to make it a reality. In particular, Building the New Venture, one of Booth’s prime entrepreneurship classes, inspired her to take the next steps. “I couldn’t sleep after class because I was so excited and I knew there was a way to do this,” she says. With that, Liz decided to move to Chicago and to take every entrepreneurship class Booth had to offer.
After her move, she went to Michigan Avenue to measure jeans – a lot of jeans – to compile all the data on fit, size, length, and brand. (We Boothies love our data.) With enough data, measurements, and over 100 potential customers taken on shopping trips, Liz launched ZipFit through the New Venture Challenge. From there, she opened a pop-up store in the Nordstrom mal (coincidentally not far from Gleacher), and it ultimately became what it is today: an amazing showroom in River West with tens of thousands of SKUs and Fit Experts ready to help each individual find his or her perfect fit within 15 minutes Those 100 initial customers is now thousands of customers- including some well known names like the Chicago Cubs.
That paragraph makes it read like the transition to success was seamless, but Liz and her team worked extraordinarily hard, and as she says, there was a “ton of hustle.” Being a weekend student with a day job and six hours in the car every weekend was only a preview of the hard and rewarding work to come.
Liz is already giving back to Booth. She has hired several Booth interns, including Chris Mario during Summer 2017. Consistent with Boothie tradition, Chris worked on capturing as much strategic data as possible to ensure ZipFit’s leadership had the information it needed to make key decisions.
“I took Data Driven Marketing, which I loved. It was so helpful because as I am working to track the systems, I would describe our final project as a great place for ZipFit to be – seeing analysis that would be done in an ideal future state is helpful to figure out what we need to be capturing now,” Chris explains.
Not only is Chris great at gathering and analyzing data, he’s also great at bringing referrals (including his dad!) to ZipFit. When Chris’s dad got fit, the Fit Experts recommended a slimmer fit than he was accustomed to wearing. “And he felt good,” Chris explains. “He doesn’t like feeling constricted – so the idea of slimmer jeans made him nervous, but he was completely comfortable in this pair. Everyone said, ‘You look a lot younger.’ ” ZipFit prides itself on creating this type of experience for all of its customers – a feeling of confidence in your own skin.
“We want to be the pair of jeans you raise every day,” Liz adds.
Boothies continue to apply what they learn in class to their real lives, and the same is true with the community Booth teaches us to build. Liz has worked so hard to build an amazing company and to continuously give back to the Booth community that first allowed her to start ZipFit. She has hired five Booth interns – Andrea Zechmann, Olivia, Katie, Brandon, and Chris - some of whom have stayed on as full-time hires.“Booth has been good to us. It goes both ways,” Liz shares.
“With Boothies, the only way to help other businesses succeed or help your classmates is to go try [items from Booth students’ businesses]. We drink Social Enjoyments here, started by Leah a Boothie. I am a big fan of Simple Mills (I eat it, I buy it), Powwful sport bras – if you’re not an entrepreneur, be an early adopter,” Liz encourages. “Try a Booth classmates’ thing instead of going to the big box. Just try it. That’s huge to me. We have to support each other.”
It’s examples like Liz that inspire Boothies to apply what Booth teaches them, to pursue their dreams, and to give back to the community that has given us so much.