By Elisabeth Wright, Marketing Specialist at The Garage
The Garage’s tagline is short. We are Northwestern’s hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation. It’s easy to remember and I say it to every visitor that walks into The Garage. But, being here every day working alongside students in one of the most unique and modern spaces on Northwestern’s campus, it’s so much more than those words.
The core of what The Garage does lies with the Resident teams—groups of students incubating their startups while students at Northwestern. The students are what brings the space to life. On any given day, student founders are meeting one on one with their mentors, workshops or classes are being held in our Workspace, or Family Dinner is going down in the cafe, and if you’re lucky, you might see the occasional drone whizzing around.
I joined The Garage in October 2016 to lead their marketing efforts. Because The Garage has a lean staff, we each have a large hand in making The Garage what is it and sometimes we have to wear a range of hats. I manage The Garage’s social media accounts, handle event promotion, oversee print and digital marketing pieces, help to keep our website up to date, and I am often the ghost writer behind much of our written content on The Garage’s online publication, The Magazine. But that’s not why I come to work every day. My favorite part of being in The Garage is the students. Just being around others who are passionate, hardworking, and willing to take risks inspires me to do the same in my own work, to constantly iterate. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from students is the understanding that failure isn’t the end of the world. It’s a stepping stone to improvement and growth, something I used to think I didn’t really need to do anymore.
I met the Unruled team when they became Residents in Winter 2017. They immediately got to work, and quickly became familiar faces. Like many students, they sometimes turn to staff for guidance. I remember sitting with Unruled co-founder Jacob at The Garage’s bank of computers to help proof the text for their Kickstarter campaign. That campaign went on to be fully funded. I tracked it every week, and was a backer myself. Since then, Unruled has taken their idea from a handmade prototype to a full fledged brand, promoting environmental sustainability and visual thinking.
One of the biggest trends and most effective methods of marketing is storytelling. Brands need to do more than sell. Consumers want to be advocates for the brands they love, share it with their friends, and have an urge to make a personal connection. It’s more important than ever that brands do more—they need to share their “why,” and it needs to be authentic. Unruled lives their brand and embodies the tenets of sustainability and creativity every day. They aren’t just selling a notebook—they’re selling a lifestyle and a mindset.
"It’s more important than ever that brands do more—they need to share their “why,” and it needs to be authentic. Unruled lives their brand and embodies the tenets of sustainability and creativity every day."
Like all teams at The Garage, they’ve hit roadblocks. But their entrepreneurial hustle and bootstrapping game is strong. They’ve been on campus all summer working on Unruled full time as part of The Garage’s Wildfire pre-accelerator program. Just the other day, they were spotted pushing two huge carts of their newest shipment of 1,000 notebooks across campus in the August heat, and didn’t miss a beat before immediately making in person sales of their new product. As core members of Northwestern’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and Residents at The Garage, Unruled is working to forge a new path and we are super excited to support them on their journey, and can’t wait to see what’s next.