The Big Short

USC Marshall Alumna’s Startup Focuses on Fashion for Small Women, Wins National Grant  

January 16, 2019

Every element of an e-commerce business, particularly in the close-margin world of retail fashion, must be leveraged to tell the right story to prospective customers.

In the case of women’s fashion startup Petitas Los Angeles, a retailer focusing on the needs of young, petite women, founder Chelsea LaFerla ’18, gets right to the “short” of it:

“Petitas Los Angeles is a clothing brand made by and for petite women,” said LaFerla. “The brand empowers petites to be clothed in confidence through uniquely tailored, high-end garments; our Signature Label is made ethically and sustainably in the USA using premium, hand-sourced fabrics.”

Petitas was selected in early December as part of the newly created Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars "LaunchPad Lift" program.

“I’m so excited to be a part of LaunchPad Lift’s inaugural cohort. A huge thanks goes to USC’s Blackstone LaunchPad and its Director, James Bottom, for investing in me.” -- Chelsea LaFerla '18, founder of Petitas Los Angeles

According to Blackstone’s press release, LaunchPad Lift ventures will each receive a $10,000 grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to support strategic efforts that grow and scale their ventures. 

The seven selected ventures for the 2019 LaunchPad Lift cohort were selected from across the LaunchPad global network, representing seven schools in four states and two countries.

Petitas is hardly alone in the cohort as a woman-founded business; more than half of the chosen startups are run by women.

This new program is a continuation of Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s commitment to supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, a mission that it has invested more than $25 million philanthropic dollars in to date.

The ventures accepted to the 2019 LaunchPad Lift Cohort include:

  • CALM, Temple University: CALM is a small device that uses vibration pulses to influence the brain and de-escalate rising stress levels and anxiety attacks.
  • Combplex, Cornell University: Combplex provides an IoT solution to beekeepers’ number one problem: eliminating the parasites killing their bees.
  • Lazarus, Texas A&M University: Lazarus is a specialty ammunition that can minimize blood lost post-penetration in order to preserve life.
  • MyWellBeing, New York University: MyWellBeing connects therapy-seekers to compatible therapist and coach matches in NYC.
  • Shower Stream, University of Texas at Austin: The Shower Stream is a smart shower head adapter that installs as easy as a light bulb, saves the waste, proves the savings via web and is completely unobtrusive to the user.
  • SteriCISION, National University of Ireland Galway: SteriCISION is developing a novel medical device to make caesarean delivery a safer experience.

Being among this group could prove a huge boost to Petitas.

“I’m so excited to be a part of LaunchPad Lift’s inaugural cohort,” said LaFerla. “A huge thanks goes to USC’s Blackstone LaunchPad and Director, James Bottom, for investing in me.”

LaFerla comes from a long line of Italian tailors and seamstresses, she said. “I grew up making clothes with my Grandma, a wedding dress designer. We spent hours shopping for fabric, trim and lining. I’d sew, she’d inspect, and I’d inevitably re-sew each garment several times. She taught me that every stitch mattered and showed me how to create quality garments that last. It’s that same care that we bring to Petitas Los Angeles.”