Student entrepreneurs give the friendship bracelet a chic makeover

On occasion, the physical manifestation of friendship is wrapped around the wrists of Wheaton students. This is especially true of Wheaton seniors Alexia Rempoutzakou ’13, Vanessa Fuchs ’13 and Alaina Raftis ’13, who have proposed a sophisticated take on the friendship bracelet.

Their taste for entrepreneurship began during their sophomore year, when the three friends cross-registered in a course at Brown University, titled “Leadership in Organizations.”

“We had this incredible bonding [experience] together. During the rides back and forth we’d just talk about how incredible it was that we met at Wheaton,” said Fuchs.

As their group of friends grew closer, they began to bring back friendship bracelets from their travels abroad: pearls from China, bangles from India and evil eye charms. Eventually they came to the realization that the bracelets were significant markers of their friendship and their time at Wheaton.

Raftis explained how the bracelets could serve the same purpose for other students: “We did this to connect all the different friend groups and friends at this school.”

Fuchs, Raftis and Rempoutzakou are responsible for the elegant designs of the bracelets. They approached friends for design advice and consulted with Dr. Betty Neil Crutcher, who offered them practical help with their project.

“We drafted about six or seven designs and we asked our friends what they would buy and which colors appealed to them. That’s something we learned to do in our business class,” stated Raftis.

Currently, the girls offer three band colors (red, brown and black) and two charms (a butterfly and a heart which are both available in silver or gold-plated silver) in a variety of combinations.

“The butterfly charm is about transformation,” stated Fuchs, “They start as a caterpillar that then transforms into a beautiful butterfly – just like the college experience. You start out a little lost at sea and then you find your friends who help you define yourself.” The heart, a less complex but equally powerful symbol for the designers, is a simple sign of love. Rempoutzakou quipped, “We’re quite the romantics, as you can tell.” Both the butterfly and the heart charm also possess great relevance for this year’s graduating class, as the designs incorporate the number 13.

A far cry from traditional macramé bracelets or neon Silly Bandz, it is evident that the designers have spent many hours considering how to make the bracelets versatile enough to wear daily, even considering more formal occasions such as job interviews. “We will be graduating soon and we want something we could wear to work without it becoming outdated,” said Rempoutzakou.

Admirably, one hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Senior Class Gift to further build Wheaton’s endowment. Rempoutzakou was enthusiastic about their contribution, “It was important for us to be doing something good because we’re very lucky to be here and we want to give back to Wheaton.”

Bracelets are priced at $35 each and will be sold at major events throughout the semester. Fuchs, Raftis and Rempoutzakou especially recommend the heart bracelet as a gift for Valentine’s Day. Visit the group’s Facebook page for more information or to leave a message to purchase: