Q&A with Charlie Goldstein, founder and CEO of Fuze.Fit
By Rachel Schultz
Charlie Goldstein, entrepreneur and senior at UW–Madison, launched his community-based brand, Fuze.fit, in spring 2022. Fuze.fit is a fashion platform for virtual curation that was born out of the combination of fashion, technology and social connections. In this Q&A, Goldstein delves into the story of Fuze.fit, his Wisconsin ties and the student entrepreneur experience.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Where did Fuze.fit get its start?
As a kid, I always just loved dressing a little weird. I was reselling Supreme in high school. I was collecting sneakers on StockX — I was that kid. I gained an affinity for learning about clothes. There’s one really weird thing about fashion and that is the barrier to entry — the idea of feeling like you have to hide your style.
I remember one of my close friends and I were at a shopping mall — we went to Macy’s, to Nordstroms, to Nike. I looked at him and I said, “You know what, this stuff isn’t really talking to me. I don’t want the stuff they’re selling. I don’t really care about the new shoes. It’s not really my style.” As I said that, I look out the big plexiglass windows and I say, “Who is that?” A guy walks across in the coolest outfit ever: cargo pants, crazy shoes, a great shirt. I start to think, “What’s in his closet? I wish I could shop from him.” I was thinking about this idea of curation, this idea of connecting people around fashion in a less transactional, more social way.
How has living in Wisconsin impacted the philosophy of Fuze.fit?
I started telling my ideas to everyone I knew at the time, seniors (I was a freshman), random people just to spread the word and hope that someone either validates the idea or shuts it down. I just needed the feedback.
Surprisingly, people thought it was a pretty good idea. They said, “You could run with this,” or “Hey, I might not be the one [to help] but I know a designer. I know someone that goes to Wisconsin [or] that’s in Wisconsin that can help you with it.” I had a Zoom call with one of these connections. She is a designer and was looking for some part-time work. She asked me, “Oh, where are you based?” I tell her the Midwest. She said, “Where specifically in the Midwest?” I say I’m near Chicago; I go to school in Wisconsin. She replied enthusiastically with, “I went to Wisconsin, what year are you?” In that moment, I really understood that Wisconsin connection and how people who are from here want to help each other.
The Fusion philosophy states, “Nearly 6 million people call Wisconsin home — fusing together a rich, diverse environment that cultivates innovation and progress.” How is this achieved through the community of Fuze.fit?
As I was creating the design for Fuze.fit, I was still talking to everyone I could, asking, “What do you think about the colors? Would you use these outfits?” I kept on getting this reaffirmation that this hasn’t been done to this extent at Wisconsin.
I realized Fuze.fit was not a shopping app that was social; it was a social app where you can shop. It was more about building community and building ideas and connections. Madison has its own little enclave within Wisconsin. You get this interesting melting pot of people, and it is a perfect place to launch something different, interesting and unique that helps bring people together.
Fuze.fit is meant for a lot of people. It’s meant for people who love to share fashion with others, and it’s also meant for people who know nothing about fashion and want to learn. Meeting people from all over, I noticed they come in with different ideas, opinions and thoughts about style and art.
Wisconsin has this narrative that it’s only drinking beer and going to football games and cheese. People don’t think there’s innovation and fashion and culture coming through Wisconsin and that’s not true.
What are your favorite connections and collaborations that you have been a part of since creating Fuze.fit?
I knew I needed to do something new, something different and unique. I found these two girls to help me grow this community, build the brand and figure out how to launch in a way that felt authentic and organic. So using my fashion knowledge, I thought, “What if we threw a Met Gala?”
I reached out to every Wisconsin photographer, limo driver and bar manager. We want to build something that feels memorable, that feels like it’s something you want to be a part of. Instead of making people post on Instagram, people are going to want to post this on Instagram. And they did.
How do you balance being an entrepreneur and a student?
Being a full-time student and an entrepreneur is hard. You can’t do everything at once, and I learned that pretty quickly by taking six classes while also trying to do this. There are unintended consequences — the stress of putting your heart into something. There was a point where it wasn’t very enjoyable. I was grinding, I was working long hours, I was doing school, I was kind of isolating myself just to try and make this vision happen.
And then it does, and you’re like, “This is great,” but you don’t get that feeling of being done. You’re like, “Okay, what now?”
There’s a saying — you can’t push string. My dad always said if you have a piece of string, you push it, or you shove it, throw all your might into it, it’s not gonna go anywhere. It will just come back to you no matter how hard you push. Some things you can’t force. If I spent three more hours a day working on Fuze.fit, that wouldn’t lead to three more hours of progress. To be honest, it was hard and it took a lot out of me, but I was really proud of it.
Have these setbacks brought you anything positive or fulfilling?
People still talk about the [Met Gala] event. It’s never been done in Wisconsin, even people who have been to something similar felt it was new and authentic — a mix of tech and fashion.
When you step back, things always become more apparent. You couldn’t see when you’re in it — when you read the same word a million times in a row, it starts to look wrong. As I stepped back a little bit, I did some research on other brands. I could think and have a little more clarity. I was able to learn about consumer behavior and how to create memorable experiences for people. I decided Fuze.fit as a brand can be a piece of art.
What do you mean when you say, “I am Fuze; Fuze is me?”
I always had this affinity toward finding things that are different, unique and go against the grain. I’ve always tried to do things that feel futuristic, that feel like they’re actually creating an interesting medium of self-expression. A way of creating experiences where people have that feeling of belonging and memory.
Fuze.fit is literally about fusion. It’s about the fusion of outfits. I believe in life, when you bring people together around something that they can all relate [to], like fashion, like music, like tech, interesting things happen. The way you bring people together is a work of art.