Fashionista joy: to give and to get

Kloset Karma is a mobile app to access a social fashion exchange marketplace.

05/18/2014 7:00 PM

09/08/2014 7:18 PM

The fashionistas have spoken: Kloset Karma is a winner.

Kloset Karma, founded by Paula Celestino and Christopher Rivera, is a social fashion exchange marketplace mobile app that allows users to exchange their new or almost-new clothing for points they can use to get new outfits from other users within their communities. Kloset Karma won the People’s Pick online vote in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge FIU Track, as well as being a finalist in the judges’ voting.

Kloset Karma was born out of the realization that fast fashion is a global epidemic, said Celestino. Fashion-conscious millennials see their outfits lasting through just one social media posting, so they are forced to renew their wardrobes often. Kloset Karma, a virtual trading post with its own style, allows a more sustainable solution than letting clothing die in that 80 percent of the closet that doesn’t get worn anymore. It essentially takes an existing habit among groups of girlfriends — trading clothes — to the larger community, CEO Celestino said.

The free Kloset Karma app is already out for the iPhone. Kloset Karma makes money through the sale of points, or the virtual currency used to pay for the clothing. An app for Android users, which is more and more of Kloset Karma’s target market, is coming out in June, said Celestino, who is also COO of digital marketing agency

Since its launch, which has focused on South Florida, Kloset Karma is continuing to make adjustments in the user experience of the app and plans to add gamification features to keep people coming back. It will also begin offering a shipping option. In just a couple of months, without spending marketing dollars, the site has more than 200 items. Celestino is also partnering with boutique owners who will sell their clothing and accessories through the platform. Marketing will go into full swing very soon, Celestino said, and will include targeting fashion influencers such as bloggers to be Kloset Karma ambassadors and hosting many live clothing-exchange events, including a Sorority Challenge.

The platform could be adapted for other markets, such as baby fashionistas, Celestino noted in her live pitch to judges in the FIU Track.

This is year two of a Celestino winning the Challenge. Last year, Pia, her sister, was part of a team that won Challenge Champion for EyeTalker, a pair of glasses that allows the visually impaired to hear written text. Entrepreneurship obviously runs in this family. In the People’s Pick, Kloset Karma garnered 1,562 votes in the FIU Track, beating the closest competitor by 166 votes. To get the vote out, Celestino said she leveraged her social networks, plus the Pipeline co-working community where she is based. She also believes in karma: “You give, you receive. When I needed support, my friends were there.”

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