The Fashionable Tycoons

Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss were classmates at Harvard Business School. Both grew up loving fashion; Hyman is a self-confessed shopaholic while Fleiss was very much enmeshed in the shopping culture of New York, having been brought up there. Both of them turned into fast friends, but neither one thought of creating a business together.

At home for Thanksgiving, Hyman’s sister complained of having nothing to wear despite a closet full of clothes. Right then and there, Hyman had that eureka moment. She thought that girls like her sister were a potential market for designer brands.  As soon as Hyman returned to Harvard, she pitched an idea to Fleiss that would be the vision for their business. Soon, Rent the Runway was born.

Today, Hyman and Fleiss’ Rent the Runway is the answer to many women wishing to live the Carrie Bradshaw experience where you can wear the latest in designer fashion for almost every occasion. The company has a fantastic collection of dresses from over 145 designers, and each of these dresses can be rented out for a small fraction of the original cost. Women can rent a designer dress at their members-only site for at least $50. Accessories are also available for a minimum of $10 per rental.

Designers also saw how this setup can improve customer loyalty and sales of their clothes, so it became a win-win situation for all parties.

As entrepreneurs, Hyman and Fleiss are still learning, with the help of their clients and technology. Launched in November 2009, their online catalogue has reached almost 500,000 members in just a matter of months. Although neither of them   came from a tech background, the partners were awarded as 2011’s most influential women in technology by Fast Company for their site’s success.

Rent the Runway of Hyman and Fleiss has truly revolutionized the fashion industry.


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