The co-founders of fashion rental site Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, were recently in Cleveland as presenters at the 10th Annual Small Business Convention in partnership with the Female Entrepreneur Summit. The presentation was sponsored by COSE and Contempo Communications.
Hyman and Fleiss founded Rent the Runway in 2009 and have grown the company into a nationwide venture with millions of customers.
Before Rent the Runway was the online behemoth it is now, it began as a series of pop-up shops on college campuses, as a way for Hyman and Fleiss to test their idea on a smaller scale before launching full-fledge. The pop-up shops were a success, and they moved forward with their business. "We earned respect from [future] investors by showing them we were doers," Fleiss said.
A sense of fearless determination helped Hyman and Fleiss adapt and grown their business. "You have to be fearless as an entrepreneur - just jump into the deep end of the pool and then figure it out," said Hyman.
Since its early days, Rent the Runway has grown to offer not only clothing, but also accessories and styling suggestions, with the aim of giving everday women the "fully celebrity red carpet" experience. The company consults a style council make up of its most loyal users to help guide it in terms of choosing what items to offer and how to best serve its customers.
"We feel extremely humbled to have been given the opportunity to pursue a big dream," said Hyman, "It's been the most amazing ride of our lives."