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July 25, 2013

Working with college girls to sell style

(Continued)

"We teach them what to do, how to be better social-media writers, how to pitch us stories, how to come up with ideas," said Zuckerman, 49, who with her husband has built a highly successful Rockville, Md.,-based integrated advertising firm called HZDG, which also has offices in New York.

Becoming a Dormify style adviser is no layup. Each one is interviewed and tested for writing skills, initiative, creativity, design and the ability to recruit other style advisers.

Each of the 300 style advisers sends two blog pitches a month to Dormify. The pitches are evaluated by a Dormify employee whose job is to work with the advisers full time. Out of 600 pitches per month, about 60 — or two a day — make it onto the Dormify website. Some blogs make it onto national media websites such as USA Today College and Seventeen magazine.

"It's competitive," said Jorie Walton, 21, a rising senior at Indiana University who hopes the internship propels her to a job after graduation. "It's opened a lot of doors."

Zuckerman sells the adviser program as professional development, although the women can earn money by hosting home or campus trunk shows for Dormify products. Each adviser also has her own code, which allows her to get credit when she spurs someone to buy a Dormify product.

All of this began in summer of 2009, when Zuckerman and her daughter, Amanda, were shopping for dorm-room decorations before Amanda's freshman year at Washington University in St. Louis.

As they went from store to store in their search for dorm chic, Amanda turned to her mother and said, "What if we created our own line of fashionable dorm decor ourselves?"

If only I had that gene.

Zuckerman suggested Amanda start a blog at school focused on decorating dorms and the challenges students face.

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