By Anna Bance, Founder, Girl Meets Dress
One of the first things on your mind when you’re fresh out of university is your career prospects. Having completed your degree you’re already half way there to getting your first job, but now comes the tough part. Not everybody gets their dream job immediately but don’t give up – you never know, the job you settle for could be the stepping stone to achieving your dream job.
Decision to start my company
After completing my degree at The London College of Fashion I worked at InStyle magazine, The Telegraph magazine, Harpes Bazaar, and then joined Hermes as UK PR Manager where I stayed for 3 years before launching Girl Meets Dress. My decision to launch a company was something I had been planning on doing for a long time, and as soon as I had the idea for Girl Meets Dress I knew that, together with my Co-Founder Xavier, it was the one we should dive into. 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.
If, like me, you have an idea that you feel could be turned into a business, you should always pursue this or at least look into the market. 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 “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 we 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 e-commerce category of its own.
The initial preparation
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. There will never be a perfect time to leave your secure job, risk your salary decrease or take a chance on an idea which might not work. When launching a business 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 need to be able to compete with people with years of knowledge and expertise.
The very first steps in setting up the business are very simply putting a basic website live and confirming demand for your product. Once you know the market potential exists and customers are excited, you can build on that and expand further. The early days are all about testing. The trend for fast fashion phenomenon over the past few years has been fuelled by trend-led low-cost retailers and celebrities, so we have ended up consuming at such a rapid rate that women now buy four times as much clothing as 30 years ago and the average woman has 22 garments in her wardrobe that she has never worn.
Promotion and marketing are important
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).
Find a Co-Founder with a different skill-set to yours. 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.
When we started, ensuring we have a full team in place while bootstrapping was no easy feat. We were lucky to find so many hard-working and ambitious staff to stick with us and the vision. 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 have to adapt to demand for the product to maintain efficiency.
Girl Meets Dress now has the potential to be huge. When creating your business don’t over think it – what’s the worst that can happen? You’ll go back to your previous role until you come up with the next idea!
About Author: Girl Meets Dress co-founder Anna Bance.