Business & Finance

Local Female Entrepreneurs Compete on Popular Facebook Show 'theSkimm's Get Off the Couch'

Jill and Alexis With a FASTEN swimsuit
FASTEN team members at the Women Who Rock Event this past week at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Left to Right-- Alexis Castellano, Sari Schwarz, Jill Slater and Jennifer Perler.
Alexis with Daughters Avery (left) and Ella (right)
Easy diaper change in a FASTEN swimsuit
Back of FASTEN swimsuit fastened up to use the potty
Example of back of FASTEN swimsuit unfastened
FASTEN leotard
FASTEN leotard tank
Jill and Alexis before taping of get off the couch

Holmdel, NJ: There are many interesting and different success stories in our community but nothing with similarity to the unique mix of design, fashion and innovative technology that Holmdel’s Alexis Castellano and Marlboro’s Jill Slater bring to us in their FASTEN company!  

As a matter of fact, FASTEN design and technology is unique around the world and they aren’t just gaining popularity in the U.S. market but the international market is gaining momentum as well. These two ambitious, tenacious entrepreneurs are not just sitting back fulfilling their online orders at their successful FASTENswim.com but they took a chance and moved their business plan up!  Straight up literally in an “elevator pitch.”  Earlier in the month Jill and Alexis after interviews and an extensive application process that included submitting their business plan, and going through several rounds of elimination competition, were then selected to participate in the final contest during a filmed episode of theSkimm Get off the Couch.  It was the FASTEN pitch against two other businesses, one of the three business finalists would be the grand winner.  This entailed flying to Los Angeles for a live filming to deliver a whirlwind “elevator pitch” to the two entrepreneurial mentors and hosts of the show; Carly and Danielle. Literally the elevator doors open and bam! Carly and Danielle are seated inside on a couch and the timer starts as the contestants begin their pitch with a window of time that it takes for the elevator to reach the top!  Watch what happens here in this nail biting episode. (Note: You must have Facebook to access this).

 

http://www.facebook.com/GOTCouch/videos/164927280746299/

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So now that Alexis and Jill have won theSkimm Get off the Couch Contest, something so many young businesses dream of what are the next steps for working with theSkimm’s Carly and Danielle? Alexis fills us in, “Winning theSkimm contest was so amazing, and we are so thrilled about the opportunity to have Carly and Danielle mentor us for the next year. We’ve had two meetings with them already! I had a lot of anxiety about flying out to L.A. and pitching in that setting but I knew it was an experience we couldn’t pass up….when I look back at this experience, I see how rewarding it felt when I stepped out of my comfort zone and pushed myself, and how that will help us with our business moving forward.” Jill adds, “The pitching in an elevator was such a whirlwind, but it forced us to really decide what was the most important thing we wanted to get across about our product. Not only have we been able to discuss our FASTEN business at length with theSkimm’s Carly and Danielle, but they bring in select members of their team (Skimm HQ as they like to call it),  depending on what our goals are for the month. For example, we are starting to plan a public relations push for the upcoming resort season spring/summer 2018 to showcase our FastenSwim, and they brought in Skimm HQers who work in the PR department. So far their mentoring has been very helpful and we are making room for our new couch!” Part of winning theSkimm Get off the Couch contest is you get to design your own couch and have it delivered to your office. Jill and Alexis are still designing one for their New Jersey office.

FASTEN shared some additional exciting news with Tapinto Holmdel & Colts Neck and that is that they have received confirmation from their patent attorney that their design patent is allowed! This is an important piece of their success story that they’ve been waiting for confirmation on. Colts Neck’s Sari Schwarz, who started on the advisory board of FASTEN, but ended up joining the team as Head Technical Designer says, “When I heard about the new bathing suit line that Alexis and Jill had created, I immediately thought ‘I need to know more.’ A few weeks and many phone calls later, I came on board and could not be happier to be a part of such a wonderful team. It is both humbling an inspiring to be working with this great team of women and mothers with vastly different backgrounds.” Jill grew up in Fort Wayne Indiana an received her Bachelors in Nursing from the University of Iowa, an her Masters in Nursing from NYU. Jill worked as a nurse practitioner up until two years ago when she decided to persue FASTEN full time. Alexis grew up in Marlboro and received her Bachelors in Journalism from Lehigh University. She began her career as an editor in pharmaceutical advertising, but left the corporate world to partner with her mother, who owned a local party planning company. She worked with her mom for 10 years, and during that time Alexis freelanced as a writer until two years ago she decided to dedicate her work life to fasten.

Oh! We also need to mention that both Jill and Alexis are full time moms! As a matter of fact that is what brought these women together when they met at a My Gym about 7 years ago, both with 6 month infants in their arms that day. The two women formed a special friendship that brought them both from the throes of motherhood (both, coincidentally, had their next child on the same exact date one year later) to a time in their life where they are now at the helm of a cutting edge fashion design company that creates solutions to many of the obstacles parents face when dressing their children.  So how did the business idea form ad really what’s so innovative? It all started with as moms of young daughters we realized what a pain it was to remove a one piece wet bathing suit during those diaper changing years or those “Mommy!!!! I have to go to the potty right now!!” moments. Then it was even harder getting them back into the wet bathing suits… It was from that day that Jill and Alexis began to work with Alexis’ mom a retired fashion designer. They began cutting up old bathing suits and making proto types of today’s FASTEN swim products. In late 2014 Jill and Alexis created the company FASTEN, “As parents, we never settle for anything less than the best for our children. And when we couldn’t find the best, we created it.” (Alexis and Jill’s statement on their FASTENswim.com).

So, FASTEN has come so far in such a short time. It began with Alexis and Jill who are always looking for ways to make ‘mommyhood’ easier. They decided to take a leap and not only  came up with the idea of using magnets to fasten children’s clothing but they designed the proto-type and then managed to bring it to the manufacturing and distribution stage in a very short period of time.  The magnet technology is sewn underneath the clothing for easy fastening. Now their FASTEN designs are not only revolutionizing swimsuits but now also modernizing dance clothing for young girls and customers are loving it! Owner of Colts Neck Dance and Performing Arts Academy Sheri Ladley Calamusa says, “We carry items from FASTEN’s dance line in our studio and since the day we displayed the FASTEN products there has been a ton of interest! It makes getting children in and out of dance clothing simple. Parents are always looking to solve small inconveniences and FASTEN products can guarantee that will happen.” Stop in to Colts Neck Dance and Performing Arts Academy and check out FASTEN dancewear. See this video below with Studio Owner Sheri and FASTEN products.

When asked what inspires them most?  Jill comments, “Other women business owners are my inspiration. I’ve been so inspired by the incredible community of women in business and how supportive we are for each other. It’s an amazing network of women who get up every day and are trying to build something.”  Alexis quickly adds, “My daughters are my inspiration. I’m doing what I’m doing because I believe so passionately in our products, and I want my girls to know that whether we would succeed or not, we have already succeeded by not letting this go. We took an idea and turned it into something substantial. I have this book that was given to me by Heather Rodale, my mentor at Lehigh University. It’s called ‘Joseph Had a Little Overcoat’ by Simms Taback. I read it to my girls often. It's about making something out of nothing. I want Avery and Ella to look at my and think, wow, I can make something out of nothing too.”

So for Jill and Alexis, gone are the days of diaper changes for their children, but they are helping make those diaper changes and urgent bathroom trips easier for countless moms. Helping busy parents in moments that they will never know. One customer comments online, “Absolutely love FASTEN! I’ve bought two swim suits and everyone at the river was amazed how easily I could change my daughters’ diapers. The suits are quality made and stylish. I will be buying again in a bigger size and when my girls start dance I will be buying FASTEN leotards! The owners are super sweet when ordering I joked about a hat and they threw in a matching headband, with a handwritten not. That thoughtfulness was heartfelt and I love that about this company.” -Sabrina Youtzy, FASTEN customer.  

The FASTEN story is a great one to talk to our children about. It’s about two moms who meet and form an immediate friendship bonding over their parenting and sharing their experiences of taking care of their children.  At the same time seeking ways to make parenting easier and better. Then they think of this great idea and they make it happen. Alexis says, “Jill and I have so much fun together. We laugh a lot and poke fun at ourselves. We’ve graduated from the working lunches of frozen Costco burritos with toddlers on our laps, to meeting our advisory board members in various towns. Our Head of Finance Jennifer Perler lives in Scotch Plains, NJ. We have monthly meetings and we sometimes meet at The Turning Point in Westfield,  NJ, or if in Holmdel we often have working meetings and order delivery from Cracked Olive. Jill says, “We look back and think, wow we have accomplished so much in just a couple years and then we look forward and see all the great things planned in our pipeline.”

Speaking of their pipeline this dynamic duo has a full calendar of exciting events going on to share their FASTEN wear! Here are a few coming up soon:

  • Saturday, October 21, 2017 -Meet FASTEN co-founder Alexis and see FASTEN swimwear in person this weekend at Five Star Swim School’s Open House in Eatontown, NJ. This is going to be a fun and family-friendly event! Tour the facility, try a demo lesson, kid’s crafts, snacks, and free open swim. Bring your friends and family out, hope to see you there all are welcome. Bring your suit and a towel! For more information see fivestarswimschool.com
  • November 14-15 Co-founders Jill and Alexis will be in Livingston at Temple B’nai Abraham’s Annual Fall Marketplace. Do your holiday shopping early! The Marketplace features unique and quality gift items for the entire family including clothing, jewelry, crafts, accessories, handcrafted fashions, distinctive handbags, stationery, scarves, toys, decorative household items and so much more.
  • Holmdel Chamber of Commerce will be hosting FASTEN Co-owners Jill and Alexis as special guest speakers on entrepreurship for women at  the November meeting! Reserve early to membership@holmdelchamber.com http://holmdelchamber.com

Alexis lives in Holmdel with her husband Ken and two daughters Avery (8) an Ella (7). Jill lives in Marlboro with her husband Gregg, son Jake (8) an daughter Jenna (6) 

Right now FASTEN is offering 20% off their already reasonably priced items and if you mention TAPinto in your notes, you will also get a free FASTEN headband. Make sure to visit FASTENswim.com TODAY! Go to  https://www.fastenswim.com

Sign up for your free daily news at TAPintoHolmdel&ColtsNeck http://facebook.com/tapintoholmdelandcoltsneckemail or your story ideas to jwall@tapinto.net or twitter http://twitter.com/holmdelcntap

 

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