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UI student ventures into business

BY REBECCA MORIN | JULY 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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Following in the footsteps of her mother, Elise Froh is a woman in charge.

Froh, a UI student who moved to Iowa City from Missouri in 2012, started a bra company called Mobile Bra Shoppe LLC this past May.

She said when living in Missouri, she had to drive nearly 40 miles to go to a specialty bra store, and when she moved to Iowa City, a specialty store was even harder to find.

“This is a problem I have,” said Froh, who is pursuing a degree in business analytics and information systems. “This is the problem my mom has, so clearly I’m not the only one who has this problem.”

In the fall of 2013, Froh’s idea came into fruition.

After participating in the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center’s Elevator Pitch Competition, Froh won $2,500. She invested about $800 more from her own pocket to create her company.

Nearly two months after her business opened, Froh now has an office at the UI Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory, and she is looking to expand her inventory and to expand clientele.

“Having the office solidifies me with the brands I deal with,” Froh said. “It solidifies the fact that I’m doing this; no bigger person backing me up.”

Since her business began, Froh said she has seen three different people — including her mother.

“I was happily one of her first customers,” said Heather Young, Froh’s mother.  “It was the most expensive bra I’ve bought, but also the first bra in like a decade where my back doesn’t hurt. It was made so well and will last me for years.”

In the nearly 50 years of her life, Young said, she would have never thought of starting a specialty bra company or even start a company at such a young age.

“I grew up in a family where employment was all about security, about getting a job and keeping a job — that was the American dream, that’s what my dad had, and that’s what prosperity and success was about,” Young said. “Only crazy people started their own business.”

Young said she started her business, Health Options, which an alternative-medicine provider, to help her and her husband when the economy started to suffer.

“Even though I’m an entrepreneur myself, I’m a reluctant entrepreneur,” Young said. “We’re proud as heck of her; she has been brave for all of her history.”

Young is not Froh’s only supporter.

With an office at Bedell, Froh said she has gained many mentors in her time there, including Jeffrey Nock, an adjunct lecturer in the Tippie College of Business.

Froh said she is happy that she started her business, which offers seven different brands with price ranges from $150 to $40, while in school.

“Because I’m in school, I feel like I have the time I need to fully develop this business,” Froh said. “I’m able to do what I need to do to slowly grow, but same time manage it while I’m in school, and if it ever becomes unmanageable, hopefully, I can hire someone to work with me, too.”


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