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Two Notre Dame alums start business selling DressWeights

| Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Windy days can be the enemy of those walking around a city or campus in a dress — a wayward breeze could cause a serious wardrobe malfunction. Christina Dunn, ’07, and Peter McCullough, ’06, engineered and manufactured a solution to this problem.

Dunn and McCullough started DressStrong, Inc., a business that sells DressWeights. DressWeights are a small, adhesive weight that are easily attachable to the internal lining of skirts or dresses to prevent them from flying up.

Photo courtesy of Christina Dunn and Peter McCullough

Christina Dunn, ’07, and Peter McCullough, ’06, opened a business together, DressStrong, Inc. DressStrong, Inc., sells DressWeights, which are small weights that can be attached to the inside of a garment to keep it weighted down.

Dunn has been living in New York City for 10 years and McCullough lives in New Jersey. Both have full-time jobs along with their work on DressStrong and both are graduates of Notre Dame. Dunn has degrees in business and Spanish and McCullough studied mechanical engineering.

Their idea for DressWeights came about simply after an experience that Dunn had while wearing a dress at a barbeque on a city rooftop.

“I had a crazy Marilyn Monroe moment, but it wasn’t fun, it was embarrassing,” Dunn said. “I either had to sit or actually hold my dress down, neither of which were conducive to the situation.”

She said she then brought the problem to McCullough, who offered a practical solution.

He gave her adhesive lead golf weights used to change a player’s swing and suggested she attach them to her hemline to keep her dress down. It worked, but it wasn’t a complete solution. The weights were expensive, lead was dangerous and they were clearly designed for clubs, not clothing material. Dunn and McCullough decided there needed to be a better option that was, above all, convenient, suited to women’s clothing, safe and eco-friendly, they said.

“The process took a lot of time, effort and dedication,” McCullough said. “We worked hard to design DressWeights and then find a manufacturer we were comfortable with. There were difficulties and frustrations … and a lot of tweaks to the product design, but we really hit an inflection point now.”

Some failed versions included the lead tape weights, which were hazardous, and wheel weights, which had an adhesive that was too strong. Eventually, the two settled on steel, which was perfectly small and weighted, attachable with an adhesive that could “maintain the flow and design of the dresses” so that women’s style wouldn’t be dictated by anything other than their choices, Dunn said.

“We want women to feel empowered when they’re dressed up no matter where they are and regardless of weather conditions,” Dunn said. “We researched other ways women usually deal with this problem but there was nothing convenient. Some sew in weights to their hems, but there are plenty of people who don’t have luxury time to do this. Time is a valuable commodity and we can provide an option that saves people that time.”

Currently, DressWeights are sold online at the website dressstrong.com, Amazon and Etsy. The product was released on Cyber Monday of 2017 and benefitted from a social media boost around the release. Dunn and McCullough work with Marianne Dunn, ’04, Christina Dunn’s older sister and McCullough’s wife, who helps with the business outreach and company support, and their younger sister Faith Dunn, who handles similar responsibilities including social media management and engagement.

The company celebrated its one-year anniversary of the official incorporation of DressStrong this September and was helped with the trademark and patent by Jodi Clifford at the Notre Dame IP and Entrepreneurship Clinic.

“Jodi and her students were integrally helpful with the [intellectual property] work, patent and trademark,” said McCullough. “It’s usually an expensive and more complicated process but she and the students with her assisted in streamlining everything very professionally and communicatively.”

DressWeights are also safe for the environment, McCullough said.

“Being eco-friendly was a priority from the beginning,” McCullough said. “We wanted to design to fit the need and be environmentally conscious — the weights are recyclable and reusable, you can get multiple wears out of them.”

Dunn and McCullough said that they are looking to expand, especially marketing toward the bridal industry. They have received good feedback from people who appreciate the product whether they’re part of or attending weddings.

“We want to build on our Amazon influence and get into big-box retailers,” Dunn said. “We’ve done the research about where women want to see DressWeights offered and we’re going to make sure DressWeights are accessible to our customers in those places.”

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