Silver Lining: 2015 Wharton Business Plan Competition Finalist

By Rel Lavizzo-Mourey WG’15 (WEMBA-West), Team Leader for Silver Lining

Team Members: Miriam Williams C’04/WG’15 (WEMBA-East), Pav Dharwarkar WG’15 (WEMBA-West)

Silver Lining is a double bottom line company that creates custom lined outerwear in collaboration with artists to highlight the idea that “It’s what’s inside that counts.”

Silver Lining team w logo sm

What’s new and exciting about your business plan?

We’ve refined our vision quite a bit and have been looking at new ways to go to market that will target specific customer segments and maximize viral adoption within key demographic groups such as the Arts community, fashionistas and working parents. Our first collection of outerwear and accessories came off the production line in March and late April. Seeing our customers’ faces as they delight in the product has been incredibly exciting!

How did you come up with this idea?

As an undergraduate, I studied two things about which I’m passionate: education policy and fine art. In 2012, I was working for a company that collaborated with big fashion designers like Marc Jacobs to create custom adhesive stickers for your nails. While working backstage at a runway show in Paris, I realized that the fashion community has deep roots in the arts, and that consumers are passionate and price agnostic at the designer level.  I wanted to find a way to reconnect the energy and money from the luxury fashion industry back to its creative genesis within the education system.

We focus a great deal now on STEM in public classrooms, but teaching creativity and non-linear thinking is vital towards innovation as well.   The idea for Silver Lining, a luxury outerwear brand with ties to the arts community, came quickly after that and our tagline “it’s what’s inside that counts” touches on the concept of inner beauty. The Silver Lining name represents a sense of optimism. On a rainy day, if you wear one of our trenches, you’ll be reminded that you have something special very close to you, whether you customize the lining or choose one of our exclusive artist designed prints.

What does it mean to you to be one of the eight finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?

This has been an incredible experience through and through. We have grown as a team and accelerated our thinking and decision making for the company by about one thousand percent. The application process, judges’ feedback, and support from the Wharton community have been a tremendous catalyst towards developing and fine-tuning our model for success. To be one of the finalists is both an honor and an endorsement to keep pushing ahead with our idea no matter where we end up in the standing.

What’s one fun fact about each member of your team?

Rel likes to doodle pictures of pandas in her spare time.

Miriam has two shelves in her closet dedicated to scarves.

Pav knows calligraphy.

Cassandra Kaldor isn’t a Penn student, but as Art Director she’s a key member of the team. She lives in LA and owns 2 chickens.

If you win the Perlman Grand Prize ($30,000 cash prize, $10,000 in legal services, $5,000 in accounting/strategy services, GLG Share Fellowship), what will you do with the money?

We will likely invest most of the money towards building an online auto-customizer tool as well as an embedded crowdfunding tool for the Silver Lining webstore. These are tangible ways that we feel we can create a better user experience online while also generating valuable forecast data. Now that we’ve completed production on our first collection, we’re also looking for ways to engage cost effective marketing tools to gain word of mouth and build brand awareness.