Published 03/28/14

A force to be reckoned with: Melissa Ellard '13

Melissa Ellard“How much do lawyers really cost?” This worrisome question is one that entrepreneur Melissa Ellard ’13 ponders as she prepares to launch Fashion-Force, an online platform where designers, retailers, sales representatives, and manufacturers can order and share information in a social network environment. “Dealing with lawyers is challenging,” says Ellard, but having a mentor with legal know-how in her corner has helped her meet those challenges.

Tyler Ray ’09 MBA, J.D., along with Ellard’s business partner, Frank Soehnge, and Fashion-Force board members Colby Butler ’09 and Sandra Potter ’76 MBA, Ph.D., make up Ellard’s inner circle. They help her navigate the complexities of a startup company. Ellard knows, “You have to have a team with different skill sets.”

With their assistance, Ellard is confident that her company, scheduled to launch at the end of 2014, will revolutionize the way up-and-coming jewelry, accessory, and clothing designers present their offerings to retailers. An alternative to costly trade shows, Fashion-Force will offer an online social media, ordering, and invoice capabilities, as well as services such as simple line-sheet applications and 360-degree product imaging to give a more “in-person” experience.

Ellard is confident about her approach. “Trade shows aren’t going away, but retailers looking for new, trendy brands will not find them there. They’ll be on Fashion-Force.”

Originally published in the Winter 2014 Bryant Magazine