While many factors contribute to the unforgettable glitz of sorority formals, most would agree the epicenter of the experience is the party dress. However, because of college pressures and social media, these gorgeous dresses are destined to be purchased and then worn only once. When I arrived at Villanova, I saw many stored in boxes under friends’ beds, looking sadly luscious and needing to be let out. While I noticed that some sorority sisters traded dresses, I thought that process could be made a lot easier and the quantity of dresses a woman could select from could be greatly expanded. So of course, I decided to make an app.
As well as providing a small income source for users, the app would reduce the hurdles some students face when trying to afford formal dresses. The goal would be to make these events more accessible by sharing these formerly single-use dresses. Not only would this be ecologically sustainable, but the app would help users build bonds within the community. I had never done anything like this before. I had no idea what I was doing and was trying to learn as I went.
“However, at every meeting, our sisterhood grew immensely, and I could feel my support increase.”
Doing something new (and so publicly) was terrifying. What if they don’t like it? What if it doesn’t work? I am pretty introverted, so sharing the initial idea with my Alpha Chi Omega chapter was intimidating. However, at every meeting, our sisterhood grew immensely, and I could feel my support increase. As we were still struggling through the pandemic, our Sunday night meetings became a place to talk freely about feelings, experiences, and ideas with no judgment. It was in this warm environment that I ran my proposal by members of the Zeta Tau chapter and asked them to contribute ideas and fill out questionnaires.
By winter I was pitching the app to investors…and it terrified me. My sisters would make me stand in front of them and practice my speech over and over until I got it right. Ultimately, Tonight’s Dress, the name of my application, won first place in the campus-wide entrepreneurship competition and $10,000 – which I used to build a prototype. After almost five months of engineering, we had a somewhat functioning beta release before the school year ended. My sisters’ support, feedback and encouragement were incredible. They reached out asking how they could help. As we start the new school year, some sisters are doing marketing and others are helping with finance.
Alpha Chi Omegas from other chapters across the country are helping get Tonight’s Dress implemented on their campuses. I reached out via Instagram, and they were all quick to respond and eager to learn more – it really demonstrated the strength of the Alpha Chi Omega sisterhood across universities. We have plans to be on almost all campuses with Greek life by 2024. As the users of the app grow nationally, I’m glad the origins lead back here, to Villanova Alpha Chi.