Rutgers Business School hosts speaker series, featuring the founder of Basic Outfitters
On Nov. 28, the Rutgers Business School hosted the Business Leadership Speaker Series featuring Basic Outfitters, an online service that allows customers to buy basic clothes essentials inexpensively.
In the past, the event featured many well-known company heads, such as Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Steven Temares, Johnson & Johnson CPO Len DeCandia, DEVCO President Chris Paladino and Revlon & Elizabeth Arden SVP Rahul Mehrotra.
Can Uslay, an associate professor of Marketing, director of Special Projects of the Rutgers Business School (RBS) and coordinator of the Business Leader Speaker Series, said the goal of the series is “to expose our students to a variety of pathways to success."
"We do not want the series to be dominated by one or few tracks. Many of the speakers are also RBS or Rutgers alums which helps them relate to our students and our students to them. All speakers participate in the series gratis and that can also be a factor in some cases," Uslay said.
This year’s speaker Michael Dweck, co-founder of Basic Outfitters, said he was excited to share his journey as a business owner.
Dweck said he really enjoys speaking to students from Rutgers — his years at Rutgers were some of the best in his life, and he always wanted to give back in any way possible.
"As a student, I never really gave much thought to starting my own company. I assumed I would get a job in the corporate world. I think it’s important for students to know that they can accomplish anything they want and to think bigger than just the corporate world, if they so choose," he said.
The series is a great way for current business students and alumni to get insight into how to start their careers, Uslay said.
He said speakers for the event who are chosen represent a “balance between the functional and industry backgrounds of the distinguished speakers.”
About 200 students attended the event that lasted 1 hour, and there was a Q&A session facilitated by a faculty member after.
Students were really excited by this year’s speaker, and Uslay said some take-aways from the event were insights about creating a work-life balance, continuously getting feedback from others and thinking outside the box.
“Sometimes starting a business and career seems so daunting. It's important to start small in incremental steps,” Dweck said.
He said that grit is the characteristic that young entrepreneurs need in order to be successful today. Students are encouraged to give input into the speaker selection with their suggestions through email or contact Uslay directly through one of the 20 student organizations in the RBS Dean’s Council of Student Organizations.
Basic Outfitters allows men to purchase basic clothing online. It is run by Dweck and his wife, Laura Dweck.
The company appeared on "Shark Tank" season eight and was also featured on Forbes 30 Under 30.
Dweck said shortly after getting married he and his wife moved to New York into an apartment with minimal drawer space.
He said after the experience he had a hard time letting go of his clothes.
“That was until I realized how frustrating it would be to find high quality and affordable basics that I can buy in bulk without burning a paycheck. I knew there had to be a better way," Dweck said.
Their company was born and they began introducing their Create-A-Drawer service that lets users choose a pack of underwear, socks, t-shirts and a pair of jogger pants. Dweck said his goal is to “make it as easy as possible to refill everything at once.”
The company is run out of New York, and they ship directly to customers to keep costs low. Users can fill their drawer with these items for $60, the first drawer that you make is 50 percent off and there is no commitment, he said.
Dweck said that as of now, the company’s biggest request from customers is to add a women’s collection. In addition to that, they are working on new jogger sweatpants that have a zipper on the side for wallets and cellphones. They also want to make more product categories and build on the success they have gotten from their Create-A-Drawer model.
"We were both horrified, and at the same time, excited that we found a problem that we knew we could solve. That’s when we started Basic Outfitters. We set out to launch our brand of high quality basics at affordable prices,” he said.