Rent the Runway’s founders changed the way people shop.
Jennifer Hyman is the co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway and first got the idea for a dress rental company after looking through her sister’s closet, which was filled with dresses that would only be worn once.
“In that moment, I realized that social media has actually made us all into celebrities with a lot of pressure to have newness in our wardrobes every single day and for every special occasion,” she stated in an interview with Cosmo. “So I had the idea around the question Can we rent dresses for all of the occasions in our lives?”
Hyman teamed up with her Harvard Business School classmate Jennifer Fleiss to pitch the idea to designers and potential investors. After being turned down by 250 designers, the duo launched Rent the Runway in 2009 with 28 designers and no warehouse.
The company started out as an evening-wear rental company, offering designer clothing and accessories for special occasions. It has since expanded into selling items for everyday use. The company now has 9 million members, 350 designers, and several brick and mortar locations — and has raised more than $210 million in funding. In May 2018, it was also valued at $770 million — not bad for brand that originally struggled to nab designers.