With girls dreaming of a different designer dress to wear each night, our fashion editor caught up with Anna Bance, the founder of the company who are answering every girl’s prayers.
1.Described as ‘Net-a-Porter marries LoveFilm’, how would you describe Girl Meets Dress http://hire.girlmeetsdress.com?
Girl Meets Dress is your new best friend with the massive designer wardrobe who is cool enough to let you borrow whatever you want! GMD is a disruptive eCommerce business with a mission to democratize luxury – believing that everybody deserves a Cinderella experience. 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.
2. 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 – and 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? My co-founder Xavier de Lecaros-Aquise and I looked into the market we saw that no one was doing it. We were the first company to rent luxury fashion online and it is wonderful that Girl Meets Dress is now pioneering the way for rental as a new and exciting ecommerce category of its own.
3. What advice would you give to Leeds’ young, aspiring entrepreneurs? Did you experience any set-backs and if so what did you learn from them?
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.
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 which 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!
4. How did you get the word out about the launch of your online store?
We launched at the perfect time because the concept is extremely recession friendly! The magazines and media picked up on this and promoted us as the perfect way for women to save money. Hiring a dress allows women to very easily wear more trend led, time-sensitive fashions, while continuing to invest only in those classic pieces which will stand the test of time.
5. What three key skills do you feel are needed to set up your own fashion business?
When launching a new company, 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. PR for us was a huge element in growing the awareness of Girl Meets Dress so I couldn’t have wished for a more suitable previous career (I was UK PR Manager for Hermes)
6. How do you go about sourcing the items on the site?
We buy our invetory in the same way as any other shop does. Our relationship with the designers is very important and we look to expand the variety of brands from every country in the world. Currently we have over 150 UK and International designers stocked.
8. What’s it like working with celebrity clients on a regular basis?
We love dressing celebrities and VIPs for a variety of red carpet events and TV appearences. Our customers enjoy being inspired by the way the dresses are styled in the limelight, and lets face it, these stars can’t be seen the same dress twice, so GMD provides the perfect solution for them!
11. At only 3 years old, where do you see Girl Meets Dress and fashion e-commerce heading?
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, giving women access to the biggest closet in the world!
12. You have a Student Ambassador Scheme, what type of students are you looking for and what will the role involve?
Ambassadors will experience the best of designer fashion while being charged with integrating Girl Meets Dress into their campus through PR, social media, grass roots marketing efforts, and event planning.
Current students involved in the scheme have held fashion shows, written blogs and shared Facebook pages, and generally promoted designer dress rentals. In return, they get a CV-building opportunity and dress-rental credits. GMD Ambassadors say they feel like they’re running their own businesses – it’s different from a regular internship where it’s all “run-get-me-a-coffee”.
Danielle Jaques, Fashion Editor