A young ambassador of Hispanic entrepreneurship from Puerto Rico to Connecticut
“Styles by Ambar” is not your usual online clothing store. In fact it is an online thrift store where a passion for fashion coexists with a mission of compassion.
The founder and visionary is Ambar Romero, a senior at Kolbe Cathedral High School, a college preparatory parochial high school in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Class of 2014 alumni.
This online thrift store sells previously owned, or ‘pre-loved’ women’s fashion and supports local women’s organizations with 15% of the store’s profits.
The journey to entrepreneurship
Ambar was born in Puerto Rico. At an early age, Ambar, her mother and older sister came to the United States settling first in New York City. After several years in New York, Ambar’s mother brought the family to Bridgeport, Connecticut – to a community with a diverse set of backgrounds and ethnicities.
Ambar was exposed to entrepreneurship early in life by her mom, Connie Santiago, who owned and operated a beauty salon in Puerto Rico. At home, her older sister Coral was the fashionista, putting together stylish outfits with the limited clothing items they had. Both were mindful of the sacrifices their mother was making to provide for them, but as teenagers going to school they were aware of the importance of fitting in among their peers.
In August of 2013, Amber enrolled in NFTE’s national high school business course and mentorship program. As a junior in high school, the urgency of applying to and planning for college became a reality. The NFTE class provided Ambar with a newfound direction and drive.
“The most surprising thing about the NFTE class was how relevant and useful the information was. Unlike my history and science classes I was able to use the information I learned in class that very same day. For the first time I was able to apply class notes to real life.”
Small business and compassion coexist
Amber cites as the drivers behind the creation of “Styles by Ambar” her desire to have a positive impact on community and the environment through her business.
The source for these fashion creations is donations of ‘pre-loved’ clothing and accessories. If these items were not donated, they would most likely be thrown out. US landfills contain 25 billion pounds of discarded clothing. The average US throws away 68 pounds of clothing a year and there are 115 million households in the US – do the math, the results will astound you.
These were statistics Ambar researched and has leveraged as a component to appeal for the donation of clothing and accessories, as well as the commitment to donate 15% of the profits to women’s organizations – a unique and compelling value proposition.
Ambar’s research did not stop with the impact of discarded clothes to the environment; her business plan included a business model cost analysis, market analysis – an understanding of her target market and a competitive SWOT analysis.
The business model for ‘Styles by Ambar’ keeps costs low by using ‘pre-loved’ fashions and by conducting all of its operations online.
It wasn’t long before Ambar realized her business had a strong appeal. With help from NFTE mentors to finalize her plan and get her website live, ‘Styles by Ambar’ generated over $500 in the first six weeks.