In December 2018, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars announced the creation of LaunchPad Lift, a 10-week program for top performing student-led ventures. The cohort was chosen from across the LaunchPad global network and represents a diverse group of businesses that span industries. LaunchPad Lift will help bridge the gap between the programming available on each college campus and the next steps these student-led ventures need for their companies.
Highlights of student-led ventures participating in the LaunchPad Lift Cohort, part of the Blackstone LaunchPad® powered by Techstars® entrepreneurship program
Searching the aisles of a teen clothing section for appropriate work clothes that fit well is an exercise in frustration for petite women.
Chelsea LaFerla knows this all too well. Walking into her first business school mixer at USC, she was faced with a room full of men dressed in neatly pressed and perfectly tailored suits while her outfit was a dress from the Nordstrom teen department. Her confidence took a heavy blow, and she began to feel out of place.
That was the moment she decided to change fashion for petite women.
“I never wanted to feel that way again,” Chelsea said. Her response was to found Petitas Los Angeles, a fashion line made by petites, for the fast-paced petite woman.
Growing up, Chelsea was always around textiles. She came from a long line of Italian tailors and seamstresses. Some of her favorite childhood memories were making dresses with her grandmother, a wedding dress designer. So she knew clothes—and the impact they could have on a person’s self confidence, or on how they were perceived.
“I remember walking into the fabric store with my grandma and spending hours choosing just the right fabric and trim for my newest design. She’d inspect my sewing, and inevitably make me un-sew and re-sew each garment. I loved the process,” said Chelsea. “It was my grandmother who taught me that every stitch matters. It’s that same quality that we bring to Petitas Los Angeles.”
Chelsea wants Petitas to empower petite women, 5’4” and under, to be “clothed in confidence” through uniquely tailored, high-end garments. The clothes will be made ethically and sustainably in the United States, using premium, hand-sourced fabrics.
Petitas Los Angeles was selected for the inaugural LaunchPad Lift Cohort, a 10-week personalized mentorship-driven program for student-led ventures, which comes with a $10,000 grant upon completion of the program to help founders move their businesses forward.
“Petitas LA’s acceptance into Blackstone’s LaunchPad powered by Techstars has been such a godsend. The mentorship, training, and support came at just the right time!” said Chelsea. “Building a business can easily get discouraging without the right help. Fortunately, we’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible mentors, who’ve been in our position and know how to get to the other side of building a successful company.”
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Follow our LaunchPad Lift Cohort series where we highlight each student-led venture.