(Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of profiles about the startups competing in the fourth installment of the ARK Challenge accelerator, underway in downtown Little Rock. 'ARK 4' will culminate in its Demo Day, scheduled for Nov. 12 at the Clinton Center, where startups pitch their final products for a chance to win $150,000 in prize money. The series began with Little Rock ventures My Color of Beauty and Acorn Hours, and Eatiply, founded in Minneapolis. Today's subject is Tagless of Little Rock.)
Social entrepreneurship seems to be as important to today's rising generation of entrepreneurs as turning a profit.
That's not to dismiss the importance of turning a profit for young entrepreneurs. After all, business is about making money. But the ability to do so while giving back to the community and helping others is the focus of a growing number of emerging startups including several taking part in the fourth installment of the ARK Challenge startup accelerator in downtown Little Rock.
One of those competing in ARK 4 is Gabe Couch's Tagless, which seeks to partner shoppers with personal stylists who will hook them up with clothes from nonprofit, second-hand clothing distributors.
Couch, 29, a partner at the Few creative agency in Little Rock and a co-founder of the Made by Few tech conference, said Tagless provides name-brand clothing including J. Crew and Brooks Brothers and "professionally curated style" at an affordable price, and it does so sustainably.
"By sourcing clothing from nonprofit, second-hand distributors, every Tagless purchase positively impacts the environment through textile conservation while funding organizations that serve the underserved," he said. "Buying from Tagless is the best way to shop sustainably."
Tagless is starting out with men's clothing and potential customers can sign up for the beta invitation list at Tagless.clothing. The online store is projected to open in early October, Couch said.
The Tagless process is risk-free. Couch said customers start by filling out a simple style profile that connects them with a personal stylist.
"The stylist then curates clothing based on the customer’s style and ships the clothes directly to the customer," Couch said. "Shipping is free, and any unwanted clothing can be shipped back within 10 days and the customer will not be charged. It's that simple."
All clothing is guaranteed "like new," he said, noting that the resale market is booming.
"There has been explosive growth in the resale market in the last few years," Couch said. "Twenty percent of people that shop at local stores also shop in resale stores. This is equal to the percentage of shoppers of larger clothing chains. It’s an exciting and growing market, due in large part to the millennial mindset of basing purchasing decisions on humanitarian goals."
That's exactly what drove Couch, with the help of the team at Few and lead fashion designer Amber Taylor, to found Tagless. Whatever your thing is, build it for the right reasons, he said.
"Social entrepreneurship is something that has impacted me greatly," Couch said. "I've learned a lot from the experiences. I for one think entrepreneurship is a great challenge and opportunity. It's something that challenges us as well as the people around us as we build what we care about. That could be a business, an organization, a community or even an event.
"Building these are a part of something much larger, which is the culture. No matter what it is you're building, do it for the right reasons and find people that challenge you."