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05.08.2014

Bulldog sisters make mark on wedding industry

Sisters Ashley Steele (ABJ ’06), of Charlottesville, Va., and Cali Brutz (AB ’08), of Athens, Ga., own and operate two businesses that are modernizing the ever-growing wedding industry. Steele and Brutz began working together in 2008 at the ages of 24 and 22, respectively. At the time, Steele was planning her own wedding and Brutz was a photographer. During the wedding planning process, the pair identified a number of issues that arise in the photographer-bride relationship.

To foster a hassle-free experience for both parties, Steele and Brutz launched (once like a spark) photography. The company’s full-time staff of eight includes photo editors, wedding planners and art directors. These individuals work with more than 30 freelance photographers across the country to provide clients with a boutique experience for their special event.

Enjoying success from their (once like a spark) venture, the duo is now preparing to launch its latest venture, Borrowing Magnolia, in May. The concept is similar to Rent the Runway and Warby Parker in that soon-to-be brides will be able to rent wedding dresses for their big day via the Borrowing Magnolia website. The dresses available for rental will be provided by former brides who are interested in earning extra cash by lending their gown to another individual.

Steele and Brutz are currently seeking dresses for Borrowing Magnolia, so if you are interested in earning a little money from a wedding dress in your closet, visit www.borrowingmagnolia.com and fill out a short form about you and your dress.

The sisters have obviously been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and show no signs of stopping. This year, (once like a spark) is expected to provide photography for more than 400 weddings; Borrowing Magnolia has garnered interest from the New York Times’ Style Section; and reality show producers are in talks of covering their business endeavors.

Congratulations to Ashley and Cali on their stellar success and best wishes for a successful launch of Borrowing Magnolia!

To learn more about (once like a spark) photography, click here.

To learn more about Borrowing Magnolia or how to offer your dress for inclusion in this service, click here.

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10.15.2014

Pulaski County students experienced life at UGA

Guest Blogger: Michelle Wilder Rivers (MA '10)
Program Coordinator
Archway Partnership

To demonstrate the possibilities available through higher education, the Hawkinsville LIFE League worked with the UGA Archway Partnership and the Office of Institutional Diversity to bring students to campus in July. The goal of the trip was to increase the awareness of postsecondary education opportunities, and to provide direct access to college admissions information. 

LIFE League teaches life skills and encourages excellence through basketball and other programs for at-risk youth in Pulaski County.

The day started with a UGA police escort for the students similar to that given to the football team on game day. Basketball games at the Ramsey Student Center were preceded by a reception during which numerous UGA administrators welcomed students.

Throughout the day, students participated in events including tours of the Ramsey Student Center and Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall (where they met student-athletes Nasheema Oliver, Kenny Gaines, Marcus Thornton and Chris Conley). Students had lunch at the Village Commons dining hall and emjoyed an interactive session with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. LIFE Leaguers ended their day with pictures in front of Sanford Stadium before heading home.

Units across campus made the day possible including: Office of the President, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, Terry College of Business, Mary Frances Early, UGA Athletic Association, Recreational Sports, Parking Services, Food Services, UGA Police Department and Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

  

Those involved hope that providing these students with a day on the UGA campus illustrated the possibilities that exist through post-secondary education. It was a great day for the Bulldog Nation and I felt lucky to be part of such a life-changing event for so many young people.

Click here to view more photos from the students' visit to UGA. 

More information about the Archway Partnership, a unit of Public Service and Outreach at UGA, can be found at www.archwaypartnership.uga.edu.

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10.10.2014

Alumnus Sets Sights on Vonage

Former Google executive Alan Masarek (BBA ’82) is making big moves.

Later this year, Masarek will be joining Internet phone service provider Vonage as the chief executive officer. He will also serve on the company’s board of directors. Vonage, which is based in New Jersey, is an international company that reported $829 million in revenue last year. The company also has ties back to Georgia, with its business services division moving to Cobb County in the near future.

Over the years, Masarek has served as president of a healthcare IT company and co-founded AdOutlet, an online media buying platform, and Quickoffice, an app provider that was acquired by Google in 2012. Most recently, he was the director of Chrome and apps at Google.

Congratulations on your continued success, Alan! The UGA Alumni Association wishes you the best of luck in your new role.

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10.06.2014

UGA Alumni See Success in Startup Companies

Several alumni are enjoying success in Atlanta's competitive startup environment. Technology startups seem to be popping up all over Metro Atlanta and three UGA alumni are leading the charge with their innovative businesses.

The brainchild of Adam Wexler (BBA ’07) and Devon Wijesinghe, Insightpool uses social media to help its clients, including Intercontinental Hotels, Chobani Inc. and A&E Networks, market more effectively to their target audiences. Last week, Insightpool announced it had raised $4 million in funding and plans to expand its Altanta headquarters later this year. The company's staff roster will also expand by approximately 75 individuals. This growth will help Insightpool as it helps businesses mine social networks for top influencers, prospects and potential customers. 

Adam Wexler (BBA '07) on right

Insightpool isn’t the only startup taking Atlanta by storm. Michael Tavani (ABJ ’02), co-founder of ScoutMob, is launching SwitchYards, a startup focused on business to consumer (B2C) relationships. Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, SwitchYards hopes to bring consumer- and design-focused startups together to build new and innovative brands.

Tavani plans to launch two to three B2C startups per year, including mobile applications and e-commerce. Those that break even within 15 months, will continue to receive funding.

  

Michael Tavani (ABJ '02)

Everett Steele (AB ’06) launched Kanga, a mobile application that crowdsources shipping, moving and delivering, in Atlanta earlier this year. The application, which will be expanding to Athens later this month, connects individuals needing something moved or delivered with people who are looking to make some extra money.

    

Everett Steele (AB '06) 

As Atlanta continues to grow as a major technology hub, the UGA Alumni Association looks forward to hearing about the continued success of these three alumni and their businesses.

Do you know of other UGA alumni running successful startups across the country? We'd love to hear about them! Please email Jamie Lewis (AB '12, AB '12) at jelewis@uga.edu. 

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