Jennifer Hyman stood in her 25-year-old sister's closet in 2008, chatting about how her sister had just spent way too much money on a designer dress for an upcoming wedding. Hyman asked her why she did not only wear one of the dresses she already owned, to which her sister replied that she did not want to be photographed in the same outfit again.
This conversation led to a lightbulb moment for Hyman. Why can't we rent designer dresses for weddings and fancy occasions? A few days later, Hyman found a business partner, and the day after that, they were in Diane von Furstenberg's office introducing themselves as the co-founders of Rent the Runway.
Officially launched in 2009, Rent the Runway rents designer dresses and other pieces of clothing at a fraction of what they would cost at full price. In addition to renting a dress for a fancy event, members can partake in Rent the Runway Unlimited, a subscription service that allows customers to exchange an unlimited number of designer clothing items for $139 per month. Customers on a stricter budget can partake in the company's new service, Rent the Runway Update, which allows them to rent four items a month for $89.
Hyman has raised more than $190 million to date—more money than any female-run business in the U.S. And part of what makes her success so fascinating is how she is not just running a multi-million-dollar fashion company. To launch Rent the Runway, Hyman had to create massive amounts of custom software, logistical processes, and algorithms built from scratch. What she is really doing is powering a technology company with a 1,200-person workforce—and one that is predominantly female.
"I think every woman in this country is going to have a subscription to fashion in the next 20 to 30 years."
—Jennifer Hyman tells SUCCESS in the December 2017 issue
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Photo provided to SV by Success.