Photo Credit: courtesy of fittedfast.com
U of T student-founded organization Fittedfast works to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping
Chiara Greco, Editor-in-Chief
Fittedfast is a student-led organization working to bridge the gap between online shopping and the local business scene. The organization has been featured on Breakfast Television Toronto, and it has also won the annual pitch competition hosted by U of T’s The Hub for $2,000. The organization was originally developed back in 2019 by fourth-year U of T student Keturah Osinde, and has since grown to meet the needs of local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mike had a chance to speak with Osinde over email about Fittedfast and the future goals for the organization.
Fittedfast was created because Osinde recognized the toll COVID-19 lockdowns were taking on local businesses. With local businesses abiding by lockdown orders, a lot of shoppers were forced to turn to online means of shopping. Osinde tells The Mike, “Once I recognized these trends, I created Fittedfast to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping with hopes of levelling the playing field for local businesses against giants like Amazon. I thought, ‘Well if the customer can’t come to the store, why don’t we bring the store to them?’ Thus, Fittedfast is a platform where the local mall rests at your fingertips, and all orders made are delivered with lightning speed, since it’s all local to the customer.”
It’s no surprise that the pandemic has made it a lot harder to shop locally, but Fittedfast makes this easier through investing “in local businesses by shopping their merchandise online as opposed to shopping online internationally.” As such, according to Osinde, the organization’s mission “rests in this idea of resiliency, whereby the city creates a bounce back by folding to the new normal especially when social and economic livelihood is at stake. So Fittedfast is responding to the new normal we live in and encouraging people in [the] community to invest in their city first before all else.”
Being a U of T student herself, Osinde knows the importance of time, and she tells The Mike that, “Browsing around the mall or shopping in-store is something of the past for me simply due to the fact that it’s just much more convenient for me to order things and have [them] delivered.” This seems to be a sentiment many other students can relate to which is why, according to Osinde, Fittedfast wants to create “convenience for students” as they shop local and online.
Essentially, Fittedfast is an online shopping mall for local businesses that function out of apparel retail shops. Fittedfast allows you to sustainably shop local and invest in the community without having to go out to any stores. The organization connects users with different local merchants across Toronto. Their website states, “You can think of Fittedfast as your Ubereats for clothes, or local Amazon, if you will.” Once you pick out items from the local businesses featured on Fittedfast, the organization’s team will pick up your items and bring them to your doorstep.
Now, when asked about the organization’s short-term goals Osinde mentions that, “our short-term goal is to transform Toronto into a shop local paradise.” In this way, Fittedfast hopes “to connect with over 150 local businesses by the end of this year, and to help rebuild our communities after COVID-19 by providing convenience to shopping local, as opposed to shopping on Amazon or some other international platform.” The main goal here is “to create a city that not only thrives in the market, but most importantly, community” Osinde tells The Mike.
In terms of the organization’s long term goals, Osinde states that she hopes to expand the company to reach other areas across Ontario and “eventually begin servicing other major cities” in Canada.
While Fittedfast is all about helping local business during COVID-19 to re-invest back into the community, Osinde mentions that the organization did struggle a bit due to the pandemic as well. She tells The Mike, “The pandemic impacted my business quite a bit. Before creating the platform, I knew I had to get out there and meet local businesses to let them know who we are and what we are trying to do. Meeting businesses in store was the best method and allowed me to connect with the owners on a warmer level. This was in 2019, so stores were still open for shopping and walk-ins. The pandemic totally put a halt to this and I was stuck on how to meet and greet owners.” But despite this, the organization has still been able to continue in servicing local businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic’s lockdowns while also allowing shoppers the chance to reinvest in their community’s businesses through local engagement.
While Osinde originally created this organization entirely on her own, she has now developed a team working alongside her, and also mentions that the organization is currently on the lookout to fill more positions. If you are interested in joining in on this organization, you can email [email protected] to connect. If you are a merchant looking to get involved, you can get more information on how to sign your business up at the Fittedfast website.