Unbox the Dress Gives Memories Something New to Wear*

The North Canton company breathes new life into old wedding dresses

If there’s one thing that’s followed your family from house to house and been shoved into countless closets, it’s most likely a wedding dress. Whether someone has been hanging onto a white ruffled number to pass through the generations, or you’ve recently taken on storing your own, the wedding dress often poses a sentimental dilemma. While many think it’s important to keep and preserve their dress, others recognize that the garment might not reflect a modern bride’s style. Unbox the Dress in North Canton offers families a way to hold onto a wedding dress’ cherished value while transforming it into new apparel or keepsakes.

“Unbox the Dress is an online design platform that empowers women to take their wedding dress out of storage and redesign it into heirloom gifts that they can give to loved ones,” said CEO and founder Grace Rojek. “We started the company because we realized that 70 percent of women are still storing their wedding dresses — that includes 30 million baby boomer women. That being said, there’s still so much sentimental and emotional attachment to these garments and women didn’t have a good way to that pass on.”

To go from something old to something new, the site offers an innovative quiz-like design platform where women answer questions about their unique dress. They are then assigned a number associated with how many new pieces can be made from the gown. To help women decide, the company offers three different collections designed around the reasons you might decide to dust off the storage box. These include a bridal collection with the “getting ready” robe that brides wear as they get their hair and makeup done, a new baby collection, and a collection incorporating multiple, smaller gifts that allow the sentiment of an important family gown to be shared with many family members.

“We decided to create this unique user experience we were interested in transforming how mass customization works,” said Rojek. “We wanted to empower our users to be engaged in that redesign process. Previously, a lot of that was done manually, but now we’ve put that tool in the hands of the dress owners themselves. It’s been exciting to combine the craftsmanship part of our business with best-in-class tech to help us reach the national vision we have for this brand.”

Part of crafting that national vision has come from the company’s dedication to quality craftsmanship and working with Flashstarts, a partner of the Ohio Third Frontier in Cleveland. Unbox the Dress participated in their 2018 summer accelerator program, which gave the company access to fashion interns as well as mentorship regarding their Store the Dress service for those interested in safely conserving their dress.

“I never thought I would have a career starting my own company, and it’s only possible because of the startup community that’s present here in northeast Ohio,” said Rojek. “We’ve been able to find these amazing women who make up our labor force with an appreciation for garment design and redesign. Cleveland also has a history with garment manufacturing, and it’s great to be able to honor those roots and combine them with startup culture to serve women all over the country.”

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