Yesterday, I was in the car, listening, as old dudes like me tend to, to the news. And a piece came on that almost made me veer off the road. It described the biggest business change I can remember coming across in a very long time, and it comes courtesy of a couple of Valley-Girl speaking young women helming a company that seems to consist almost entirely of young, pretty girls.
What if you opened a retail store, but customers weren’t welcome to come inside?
That’s the premise being explored by Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman, the founders of RentTheRunway.com. RentTheRunway has been described as “the Netflix of Fashion”, and it’s a fairly simple idea; at RentTheRunway, women can rent dresses and accessories that are too expensive or impractical to buy. Or just plain have some fun, girls!!!!!
Let me be clear, by the way, that I don’t know if Jenn and Jenny actually speak Valley Girl all the time, but watching this video of Jennifer Hyman on Access Hollywood, I found it hard not to form opinions. Sorry if I’m off-base, Jenn!
Whatever they talk like in real life, The Jennifers are onto something, not only with RentTheRunway as a business idea, but in their decision to open that store but not actually invite people inside. It’s business change for reals, my peeps!
And the Jennifers are for real, too. Ms. Hyman and Ms. Fleiss met while working on their Harvard MBAs, and RentTheRunway has over $30 million in venture capital behind it.
But let’s talk about that “Retail-but-not-retail” idea.
People shop on-line, now. Have you walked into a mall recently? They’re ghost towns compared to what once was. And retail space is expensive—especially at street level in New York City, where RentTheRunway and many of their haute-couture-coveting clients are located. So why not view a very small storefront as just an extension of your image instead of a place for people to browse and not actually buy?
It’s business change brilliance. And in fashion; not a business generally know for innovation.
If I was fashionable enough to wear a hat, I’d take it off to Jennifer Hyman, Jennifer Fleiss, and RentTheRunway.com. Brilliance. And nice clothes, too.