NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Last month, a group of Rutgers students launched an online campaign to raise $10,000 to launch a company called PSTML, which aims to connect a small village in Turkey to consumers all over the world.
But the group was pleasantly surprised when they surpassed that fundraising goal just four days into the one-month campaign, which was hosted on the popular fundraising website Kickstarter.com.
All together, the fundraiser brought in $22,386 from 332 supporters.
PSTML is a local startup that specializes in importing artisan-made, hand-loomed Turkish towels with the goal of preserving a lost cultural tradition.
Dimitry Apollonsky, a Rutgers sophomore, founded PSTML four months ago after coming up with the idea last year.
His goal was to bring a fresh perspective on an everyday product. He researched the subject and was surprised to find that most towels are made from Egyptian cotton, which lacks some of the benefits of the less-popular Turkish cotton towels.
Apollonsky says, "Most people are used to the idea that Egyptian cotton is great for all textiles because it's so good for clothes. But towels are a different story."
Apollonsky found out that Egyptian cotton is made from long strands of cotton, which makes it highly absorbent, but it takes much longer to dry.
The result is that people are often faced with a damp and odory towel because the water has not yet dried off from the previous shower.
But the handmade Turkish cotton towels his company plans to import from Badabag, Turkey improves on this problem.
Because Turkish cotton is made up of medium-sized cotton strands, it absorbs just the right amount of water so that the towel dries quickly while staying relatively soft.
The PSTML Kickstarter gave people all over the world an opportunity to fund his team’s project and receive a towel or a set of towels in return.
Two kind of towels were offered, a light and heavy kind.
The light version is a traditional pestemal towel which is “perfect for an active lifestyle.” It can be used as a beach towel, picnic towel, scarf, head cover, and as a blanket.
The heavy version is best used as a classic bath towel, as it is double-sided. One side contains the light version of the towel accompanied with an extra layer of cotton on the other side for extra absorbency.
The availability of colors for the towels will be determined by the opinions of the 322 supporters who chipped in.
PSTML offers the light towel for $39 and the heavy towel for $59. Both can be purchased on their website and the towels can also be bought in different packages or combinations.
Editor's Note: The author of this article is one of the students involved in the PSTML startup business.