"Although not 100% necessary, I recommend choosing an area that you know something about. There are exciting ways to pioneer every market, whichever field you love."
- Anna Bance, Co-Founder of Girl Meets Dress
Can you tell us more about Girl Meets Dress?
Girl Meets Dress is a disruptive eCommerce business with a mission to democratise luxury. We provide millions of women the ability to rent designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of the retail price, allowing them to look and feel beautiful for all of their special occasions. We will deliver the dress to you – at your home, at your office, wherever you want it – and all you have to do is have fun in it and send it back to us when you’re done!
Tell me more about your career before starting your business?
After completing my degree at The London College of Fashion, I worked at InStyle magazine, The Telegraph magazine, Harpers Bazaar, and then joined Hermes as UK PR Manager where I stayed for three years before launching Girl Meets Dress.
What inspired you to start Girl Meets Dress?
The Girl Meets Dress story began in 2009 when I was working as UK PR Manager for French Luxury brand Hermes. Like my previous roles in the fashion industry, it involved lending the collection of dresses and accessories out on a daily basis to fashion magazines, shoots, celebrities and journalists. I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all borrow dresses for just one event, and wear a different designer for every event in our calendar?”
When my co-founder Xavier and I looked into the market we saw that no one was doing it. And so we were the first company to rent luxury fashion online and it’s wonderful that Girl Meets Dress is now pioneering the way for rental as a new and exciting ecommerce category of its own.
How did you manage building it alongside your full time career?
After talking it through with Xavier we both decided to leave our full time jobs to launch Girl Meets Dress. I knew it was just a matter of time before I started my own business, something I had always wanted to do when the right idea came along. Launching a business is always going to have an element of risk, but I believed in the idea, my co-founder and the market potential. Don’t over think it. There will never be a perfect time to leave your secure job, risk your salary decrease, take a chance on an idea that might not work – but what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll go back to your previous role until you come up with the next idea!
What’s been the biggest highlight?
The biggest ones are yet to come I hope and 2014 has a lot of potential for exciting news for the business! So far though, I’m really happy with the fact that we’ve become the UK’s first and largest dress hire service and creating a fantastic product for all women to have their Cinderella moment.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
When we started, ensuring we had a full team in place whilst bootstrapping was no easy feat. We were lucky to find so many hardworking and ambitious staff to stick with us and the vision.
Also, becoming knowledgeable in so many different areas is challenging but it definitely helps to have 2 co-founders with complimentary and different skill sets. Fulfilment and logistics is an area which has to evolve and improve all the time as the company grows and orders increase. New processes and staff roles always have to adapt according to demand for the product to maintain efficiency.
You’ve had some great PR and worked with very high profile people in the fashion and e-commerce industries. What’s your secret?
When you run your own business, one of the most important and impactful skills to have is the ability to promote and market the product and brand to get that all important traffic through the doors. I was lucky as my previous PR experience at Hermes really helped me grow awareness of Girl Meets Dress – PR was, and still is, a huge element for us!
What advice would you give to other women who dream of starting their own business?
Although not 100% necessary, I recommend choosing an area that you know something about. There are exciting ways to pioneer every market, whichever field you love. Of course, you can learn about any new topic – but will you be able to compete with people with years of knowledge and expertise? Find a Co-Founder with different skill sets to you. This is a brilliant way to launch without needing to hire a full team on day 1. If you can split the main areas of the business between you, then you can launch with minimal cost and test the product at market – which is the first step to seeing if there is demand.
What’s next for you?
Without giving anything away, Girl Meets Dress is proving the potential to be huge! We have ambitious and exciting plans for the year ahead. We want to continue to grow the collection of stock, the team, and to innovate within the wider Fashion space. We will continue our leadership of this emerging space and be in a position to wow our customers in every way possible and to forge a brand and quality of service which women will wonder how they managed without. Ultimately, giving women access to the biggest closet in the world!
What’s your favourite quote?
Rent the dress, own the room!
Anna Bance launched disruptive eCommerce business Girl Meets Dress in 2009 after realising that women only wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. Girl Meets Dress provides millions of women the ability to rent designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of the retail price, allowing them to look and feel beautiful for all of their special occasions. To find out more and rent your next WOW dress, just hop on over to the Girl Meets Dress website here
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