There’s something more that these two ladies share, besides their names. Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman were both passionate about doing it their own way and that was one of the reasons that bonded the namesakes. Fleiss and Hyman first met at Harvard Business School, became friends and eventually grew to be business partners. Though they would often catch up over lunch with some intense entrepreneurial brainstorming, it was Hyman’s sister’s dilemma that can be given the credit for helping the duo hit their big idea.
Hyman’s sister was to attend a wedding, and like most women, could not find the right dress for the occasion, neither was she willing to buy an expensive dress that she’ll wear only once. While most would connect to this issue as a regular affair, the ladies decided to fill this gap through their entrepreneurial venture. They went to create Rent the Runway, a platform where one could rent designer gowns for a fraction of the retail price.
The duo, however, refuse to call it their aha moment. In an interview with the Muse Hyman said, “Actually, I never said, “oh this is a brilliant idea, this is going to be a billion dollar company, we have to do this.” My reaction was: I had an idea, I thought it was interesting, Jenny thought it was interesting, we thought it was fun, and we thought, let’s figure out if this is a great idea.” Fleiss added that initially they decided to do the project as a course credit. She said, “We gave ourselves a fixed deadline—by the time we graduated, we’d see if this would actually work.”
Hyman and Fleiss were grounded, focussed, discreet yet superbly enthusiastic. Though they had their fall back plan ready, they left no stones unturned to write the success story of Rent the Runway. From purchasing designer dresses to visiting college campuses, they started working from the ground with their eyes set on having a digital portal for renting designer outfits.
It was a never seen business initiative and the designers as well as investors were sceptical. But, according to Hyman, it helped them “dig deeper and figure out” what they really wanted their brand to be, and their target audience. They were ever more determined because they had experienced the excitement among women about their novel offering. Hence they worked on ways to convey the message to the stakeholders. They’d video record the reactions about their customers’ ‘Cinderella moments’ and share those with them.
The company that they launched in 2009 has, today, burgeoned into a booming business, surpassing $100 million by the end of 2016.
Image credit: inc.com