Alumna brings big style to a little detail
Alexandra Gramatikas, ’12 | CEO, ALTR LLC
While attending a nautical-themed wine tasting, Alexandra Gramatikas, ’12, and her business partner and current UCF doctoral student, Tripp Driskell, found themselves in a big discussion about a relatively small item: buttons. More specifically, they complained about the lack of versatility in purchasing clothing with exactly the right buttons, and how ridiculous it is to buy a new blazer just because it has gold buttons, or making a trip to the seamstress to have plain buttons replaced with snazzier ones. And, so, ALTR LLC was born.
Alexandra’s patent-pending button covers allow wearers to “ALTR” the look of any standard buttons without the use of a needle and thread. She began her line with a design close to the hearts of all Knights — the coveted Pegasus.
This great invention not only gives UCF alumni a way to literally wear their pride every day, but it also won Alexandra first place in the 2012 UCF Joust, for which she was awarded $10,000 cash and one year free residency in the UCF Incubator program.
We caught up with Alexandra and asked her a few questions about her entrepreneurial spirit and bubbly personality. Here’s what she had to say…
Q. Why do you do what you do?
A. The idea of doing anything else seems like a jail sentence. I crave innovation… Whether it’s something obvious like creating a new product, or something unsuspected like a new adaptation of an existing product.
Q. What is your favorite thing about your job?
A. The immediate answer: marketing. However, when I take a second to think about it, I would have to say the manufacturing operations. I LOVE that I’ve been exposed to such a relevant industry. Rapid prototyping, machining, injection molding, etc., have a huge impact on today’s manufacturing. Not only are a lot of these operations being brought back to the U.S., they are becoming more affordable for budding innovators. A student could create prototypes in his or her dorm room with the technology that is available!
Q. Describe a typical day at work…
A. I wake up at 7:30 every morning (which is early for me) and eat breakfast while watching Good Morning America and answering emails. Then, I usually have a morning meeting and head to the office, located at the Orlando UCF Incubator — I love the UCF Incubator! From there, it’s anything from licensing and product research to web and content development. I always take breaks in between to engage on social media, since that is currently our primary source of marketing. Then, around 3:30, I fulfill the day’s orders and ship them out.
Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A. Peter Pan… then an architect… then a pastry chef… then a media buyer.
Q. What was your first paying job?
A. A server at Harry’s in Tallahassee during undergrad. I think EVERYONE should be a server or host/ess at least once in their life. It gives you a whole new level of patience and appreciation.
Q. Why did you choose to attend UCF?
A. I graduated with my undergraduate degree at Florida State in 2009. The only opportunities that were being offered to me at the time were either as a recruiter or in sales. Though they were great opportunities, and I have friends who have done phenomenally in those fields, I just knew that I would constantly crave something else. So, I worked at Shari as a hostess for a year (another life lesson in patience). One day, my dad suggested I come with him to attend UCF’s Joust finals. It would give me an opportunity to meet some of the faculty, and see what direction UCF was going in. The day after, I signed up for the GMAT and applied to UCF’s M.B.A. program.
Q. What is your favorite UCF memory?
A. Winning the very competition that encouraged me to go back to school in the first place
Q. What is the last thing you searched for on Google?
A. “best design for creating friction” and “yoda quotes”
Q. What one thing drives you absolutely crazy?
A. No. 1 is TIME!!! I HATE when people have no regard for time (and, in turn, no one else’s) — drives me bonkers! Students (especially graduate) without a LinkedIn profile, and #selfies are a close second.
Q. What is the No. 1-most-played song on your iPod/MP3 player?
A. Oooooooo that is tough. I always play my Spotify “schizophrenic playlist” on shuffle… Right now, the top three are probably: “Baby, I Love Your Way” by Big Mountain, “Heroes” by David Bowie and “Radio” by Lana Del Rey.
Q. What songs would make up the soundtrack of your life?
A. “You Only Get What You Give” by New Radicals
Q. What movie can you quote word for word?
A. Wedding Crashers and Finding Nemo
Q. What TV show are you embarrassed to admit watching?
A. I LOVE anything on the Smithsonian Channel. Guilty pleasure: American Idol — mainly to roll my eyes because the female judges this year are awful. Bring back Steven Tyler!!!
Q. Do you have any nicknames?
A. Star (it’s my middle name), Little One, Gram, Midge… I’m really short if you couldn’t tell from those, lol.
Q. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A. Chocolate chip cookies!!! And mac ‘n cheese.
Q. What was your most embarrassing moment?
A. HA! There are so many… But definitely the time in undergrad, my roommate talked me into signing up for a gym membership. The first day I went with her, we were next to each other on the treadmill. Mine wasn’t working, so I walked across hers to her other side. I realized I left my iPod at the other treadmill, so I went to walk back across. However, in that short time, she had started running on her treadmill. So, when I stepped on it, I went flying off the back with my feet in the air like a cockroach. We still laugh about it to this day.
Q. What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
A. Start a company.
Q. What is your favorite app?
A. Instagram. 99.9 percent of our pictures are taken with my phone and put through Instagram. I LOVE IT!
Q. Where is the farthest you have traveled?
A. I am very fortunate in the traveling department. When my parents split, my dad and I spent three weeks at the end of every summer traveling with some family friends. We always packed a backpack and that’s it. I’ve had the opportunity to go places from Vietnam and Bali to scuba diving in the Galapagos and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Q. A custom T-shirt tells the world a lot about a person. What would yours say?
A. “I know that guacamole is extra.”
Q. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
A. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)
My dad told me that quote my first week after graduating from FSU.
Q. What do you fear?
A. Missing out. I have a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I don’t really fear “not succeeding” because deep down, I know I will succeed at something. You could say I have fear of missing out on an opportunity.
Q. What is the one word you are guilty of using too often?
A. Hmm… I don’t necessarily use one word more than any other, but I have a tendency to make up words. I’ll accidentally combine two words when speaking, and just hope no one noticed.
Q. Tell us a secret!
A. I’m really 4 feet 10 inches and some millimeters, but I tell everyone I’m 4 feet 11 inches because the DMV gave me the extra inch on my driver’s license, and that’s the one that really counts. ;)