UT business student makes personalized style easy with her company

Hailey Howe

Finding the perfect outfit for graduation parties, interviews or just a night out can be challenging. Chottie Hamilton recognized the need for people to get fashion advice from personal stylists, so she created The Retail Vault with the idea of linking the client with the personal stylist. It will curate a personalized and stylish outfit and send it directly to your email.

Finance sophomore Chottie Hamilton started her company The Retail Vault during her senior year of high school in order to pursue her dream of being a personal stylist. The company services women and men. The Retail Vault connects personal stylists with shoppers and uses style preferences indicated by the client to allow the stylists to find personalized outfit ideas for the occasion they are looking for.

“The goal is not to say, ‘What you’re wearing isn’t good and you should change it,’” Hamilton said. “The goal is to help people find outfits, whether it’s a pair of shoes to go with a dress they already have, or a full outfit. We make that process easier and present them with the best items based on their preferences and let them pick what they want.”

Grace Moore, supply chain management junior, said she used The Retail Vault to find an outfit for an internship interview she otherwise would not know how to dress for.

“They (interviewers) said the attire was ‘snappy casual.’ I was like, ‘What is snappy casual?’” Moore said. “It was so worth it getting three outfits sent to my inbox, and I ended up ordering two of them.”

As opposed to other similar companies, which send their clients boxes of curated clothing, The Retail Vault’s personal stylists curate three outfit options and email them to the client with the websites attached, where they can purchase the outfits if they so choose.

Personal stylist Madi Raurell, a textiles and apparel junior, tries to pull clothing options from websites the clients may not already know about to give them further style inspiration.

“I’m always online shopping and looking at fashion trends, especially because of my major,” Raurell said. “Since I’m already doing that stuff on my own (for my blog) or for school, it’s easy to pick for people because I know where to look.”

At first, The Retail Vault did not offer personal styling options, but resembled a Pinterest board of different outfit ideas. Then, Hamilton took a class called Lean Startup Essentials last year, which inspired her to take the company into the model it is now.

“That idea inspired me to go all in with The Retail Vault, because I was constantly working on this concept in homework assignments (and could apply it to my own company),” Hamilton said. “Running The Retail Vault also makes learning about those concepts easier (and more applicable) because it’s much more interesting when you can view the situation in a realistic light.”

Hamilton said she loves being a CEO and the independence that comes with it, and while she isn’t positive where The Retail Vault will eventually go, it is a useful learning experience.

“(My company is) really great to have because I can directly apply the concepts I learn (in class),” Hamilton said. “It’s fun to have the responsibility to make your company whatever you want it to be.”