A business seemingly made for the new COVID-19 economy, Keturah Osinde’s Fittedfast aspires to be the “UberEATS for clothes.”
Osinde, a fourth-year urban studies and ethics, society, and law student, is passionate about how cities develop and adapt to new situations and stresses. She founded the company to support local businesses in the face of encroaching industry giants by bridging the gap between online and in-store shopping.
The Varsity interviewed Osinde to get the story on Fittedfast’s origins and future.
The Hub for help
Despite being a UTSG student, Osinde grew Fittedfast in The Hub, UTSC’s entrepreneurship incubator. Aspiring entrepreneurs don’t need a finished product or a business plan to join the program; instead, students and recent graduates only need to come with an idea for their business.
An idea is exactly what Osinde had when she approached the incubator. “I had come into the hub with just an idea,” she wrote. “A concept of this elaborate network of businesses that people can shop from online with delivery.”
Osinde gave much credit to The Hub’s coordinators — in particular, The Hub’s director, Gray Gaffam — who she says supported her and her peers with a wide range of resources that were adapted to a virtual setting. “They had many [Zoom] sessions available for students to partake in that provided ample information and resources on how to succeed,” Osinde shared.
Through The Hub’s annual pitch competition, the Fittedfast team also won $2,000 for its idea.
“The Hub has also allowed me to see all the other innovative businesses that [are] pushing through the pandemic storm,” she continued. “Its [sic] incredible to see all the talented young people creating things that may very well change the world one day.”
A focus on local business
Much like its inspiration, Uber Eats, Fittedfast connects users with multiple local clothing stores via a single website. Users shop through the unified online storefront, and all deliveries are then handled by Fittedfast. Customers are charged $10 for delivery, and Fittedfast receives a five per cent pick-up fee from the businesses.
Fittedfast’s research revealed that customers are accustomed to paying $11–14 for delivery that takes three to five days on average. With its current one- to four-day delivery model at a flat rate of $10, Fittedfast ships local products faster and cheaper, Osinde asserted. “We wanted to provide the best value for our service,” she wrote.
Fittedfast also addresses sustainability and fast fashion — two big issues in the clothing industry. Osinde shared that the local business model hopes to allow Fittedfast to have greater control over the ethical sourcing of the clothing it delivers. Over 60 per cent of Fittedfast’s merchants have a sustainable approach to manufacturing their products. Brave Soles — a brand that makes its shoes out of recycled tire materials — is one such example.
In consideration of COVID-19 safety measures, Osinde reported that “Fittedfast adheres to all social distancing rules, especially with regard to drop-off.” Customers are able to engage in contactless deliveries by alerting Fittedfast of their preferred drop-off time by email or text. Fittedfast is also in the process of integrating a live view of delivery, which will allow customers to track the status of their order.
During Fittedfast’s pre-pandemic development, Osinde met with potential merchants in person. With the onset of the pandemic, Osinde has found it difficult to receive responses from merchants through cold calls.
Reformulating her approach in the early days of the pandemic, Osinde decided to contact local businesses with an offer to feature their stories in Fittedfast’s blog, T.O. Local. At that time, Fittedfast didn’t have a functioning platform, except a blog on an amateur website, but it allowed Osinde to connect with merchants and gain exposure.
“This had a significantly better response because I learned the valuable lesson that you can get people to learn a lot about you by literally allowing them to talk about themselves first!” she wrote.
When asked for her advice to future generations of U of T businesspeople, Osinde advised fellow student entrepreneurs to “start now.”
“Many of us suffer from procrastination and [are] looking for the perfect ‘time’ to do or start something,” Osinde wrote. “Truth is, there’s never a good time — you create your opportunities and you create your reality… The real difference between those that succeed and those that do not is that the former had the bravery to take action.”
As for what’s next for Fittedfast, Osinde is focused on getting 100 businesses signed up on the platform by the end of March.