Boston University alumni Kristen Grace noticed a problem when she was packing her first son up to go off to college.
“The choices were buying a huge trunk, plastic bins, cardboard boxes … garbage bags,” Grace said. “We wanted to do something that we could pack everything easily and have it stay in the dorm with them instead of spending.”
So, Grace said she called her sister, BU alumni Lisa Dale, whose eldest child is a few years older than her own, and asked a question — “Wait, what do you put everything in?”
The duo said this was how their brand KEEP started in early 2021. KEEP is a new line of packing bags targeted toward college students that aims to streamline the moving process sustainably.
“We were brought up in this problem-solution style of thinking, and we faced the problem enough times that we were like ‘there has to be a better way to do this,’” Dale said.
Grace said the moving process for her children was “an eye-opener.” She said seeing “piles of garbage” made her feel strongly that there was a need for a better way to move.
Mia Parker, a junior in the College of Communication, works on the PR team for KEEP through BU’s PRLab, a course where PR students are assigned a real client to work with for the semester.
“Going to school in Boston, the moving process is such a big thing here just because there are so many colleges,” said Parker, an account executive on KEEP’s PR team. “Being able to work on KEEP…we’ve actually been able to do a little bit of research about how much trash and waste the college moving process contributes and creates. It’s really cool seeing a product like this that aims to solve that problem.”
Dale said the decision to work with PRLab was “a no-brainer.”
“Our product is designed to be used by college students and their families in the move, so it’s just such a nice natural synergy to have the opportunity to work with PRLab,” Dale said.
When designing the product, Dale and Grace said they wanted to design the bags to be able to fit stacked inside dorm rooms, fit easily inside a car or be checked on an airline. Grace said the bags are made of recycled material and can be used “over and over,” unlike other moving alternatives.
“I’m really proud of the way it turned out, and I think we’re doing our part to preserve our environment by eliminating all these boxes and single-use plastics, which is really important to us,” Dale said. “I really think that these bags simplify (the moving) process.”
Parker said she appreciates that the product works to solve a problem which college students might not have considered and raises awareness about the environment.
“I definitely do care about investing in brands that align with my own values of sustainability and environmental awareness,” Parker said.
Despite the fact that Dale and Grace’s backgrounds are not in business — with Grace having been an art director and Dale having worked in advertising and marketing — Dale said they had always been “trying to do something else.”
Growing up, the sisters’ grandfather founded a family business, which their father expanded, and Grace said in an email it “had an influence on us becoming entrepreneurs and working together.”
“We’ve always had this desire to do something entrepreneurial together,” Dale said. “We have different skill sets that work well together, and because we’re sisters, we have a good synergy and working relationships since we’ve been working together since we were born.”
Parker encourages students to visit the link in the KEEP Instagram bio to learn about KEEP’s new student ambassador program.