Assert with confidence and declare positively—that’s the motto of Aver Streetwear, a clothing line by UNH Manchester communications arts major Haley Vinciguerra ‘21.
“Back in March 2020 when we first went into quarantine, the restaurant I had been working in closed. Not only did I need to find a new way to earn income, I had all of this free time,” Vinciguerra said. “I decided to dedicate it to something I’ve always loved—fashion.”
After being encouraged by her two younger sisters to join TikTok, Vinciguerra quickly found herself on the “small business side” of the platform. “I learned how to do everything on TikTok,” she laughed, from finding clothing wholesalers to designing the merchandise and manufacturing it by hand herself.
Since launching her online retail store in April 2021, Vinciguerra has sold everything from coats and crop tops to beanies and bodysuits to a wide variety of clients, ranging from 16-year-old high school students to women in their 50s. She also decided to donate five percent of the proceeds to Mental Health America, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting overall mental health.
“I really wanted to shine some light on mental health awareness,” Vinciguerra said. “I’ve struggled with anxiety and I want people to know it’s ok to talk about these kinds of issues. Especially now with the pandemic forcing so many interactions to happen over Zoom rather than face to face, it’s more important than ever to discuss.”
Vinciguerra’s designs include sweatshirts encouraging wearers to “Exist Loudly” and to assert themselves with confidence.
“A person’s mental health can seriously impact their body image and how they feel about themselves,” she said. “The mission of Aver is to encourage customers to be comfortable in their own skin and to find clothes that they can be confident and feel their best in.”
Vinciguerra credits the advertising and public relations focus of her degree as a major contributor to the current success of her business. “A lot of the courses I’ve taken have helped me learn about different advertising avenues,” she said, especially one particular course called Social Media for Organizations and Businesses. “Through the course I became HubSpot certified for social media advertising, which was a huge help.”
After graduating later this month, Vinciguerra will be attending esthetician school in Massachusetts, but still plans to continue her side hustle.
“My main focus between now and when my esthetician classes begin is to continue to build the brand, create new merchandise, and focus on developing a marketing strategy,” she said. “After that it’ll be a project I continue to work on in my free time.”