This week we decided to do a holiday-themed 10 Things We Love (or 16, rather) to share some of the favorite gifts we received this season! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and Happy New Year!
Becky received gloves from the North Face - that you can text in!
Nikki got tickets to see American Ballet Theater's The Nutcracker at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
Anushka got this Alexander McQueen scarf that sports his signature skulls.
Ashley got this gorgeous Tiffany ornament - a tradition each year in her family!
Jenn got this gorgeous David Yurman ring from her boyfriend Peter - he even knew that it was stackable!
Erica got a couple's cooking class at The Brooklyn Kitchen - complete with wine pairings!
Sam got the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty book from the Met exhibit.
Jenny got pajamagrams for the whole family - including the soon-to-be newest addition, her baby girl!
Bill got a Kindle Fire, perfect for his morning commute to RTR.
Ashley got this beautiful calendar featuring hand-painted floral illustrations.
Blaire got this Soda Stream maker so she can make any beverage a little more bubbly!
Tiffany loves silly gifts, particularly this plush doll she received from her sister.
Camille's mom made her a beautiful custom quilt from this book!
Katie got this festive wool Rag & Bone shift dress.
Brooke got this book, a great read for the holiday vacation.
Alissa got this adorable heart sweater from J.Crew.
1 You Deserve It
You've worked around the clock all year, why shouldn't you look your most beautiful on the most celebrated night of the year? Did you know that more engagements happen and more people meet their special "one" on NYE than any other night? Thanks to our friends at The Knot for this info :)
2 It's the most photographed night of the year.
Fabulous new Facebook profile picture - guaranteed!
3 You will definitely only wear that sequin dress once.
(especially due to #2). Can't be seen twice in the same dress on Facebook if you know what I'm sayin. Got an image to uphold...
4 Fit Guaranteed: Eat as many holiday cookies as you want.
We send you two sizes, so you won't have to skimp on your favorite seasonal treats.
5 A one night stand you won't regret.
New Year's is likely the #1 night of the year for one night stands but hey you never know, it could lead to point #1. Wear something sparkly. This is the one night of the year where bling = normal. If you're not sparkling, go home! And as my fav person Becky Hyman always says, "more is more."
In the latest installment of Jenn's Fashionpreneur column on Fashionista.com, she talks about the best and worst pieces of advice she's received as an entrepreneur.
Rule number one of entrepreneurship is that the second you tell someone that you are thinking about starting a company, the floodgates of advice will open. Suddenly, friends, distant relatives and colleagues will frame themselves as experts on just about anything to create the opportunity to give you their opinion. This all stems from rule number one about people which is that they love to hear themselves talk (in fact, in any negotiation or interview, the person that speaks most believes that she has the upper hand). Since I had the idea for Rent the Runway nearly three years ago, my co-founder Jenny Fleiss and I have solicited and received lots of advice. The trick is the ability to decipher good advice from bad. So, in the efforts of saving all of you the trouble, I thought it best to list some of the very best and very worst advice I’ve received.
Find a partner. Starting a company is really, really hard. Not just from a workload or execution standpoint, but the emotional roller coaster is intense. Thank god that since day one, I have had an incredible partner to share the lows and incredible highs with. The day we launched (Nov 9, 2009), Rent the Runway was covered on the front page of the business section of the New York Times, an incredibly surprising and exciting moment. But, by far, the very best moment of that day was hugging, screaming and jumping up and down with Jenny when we came into the office. Every experience is better when it is shared!
Get your nails done. Yes, seriously! I was at a very important designer brand which shall forever
remain nameless, and the head of the brand pulled me aside after the meeting and said: “Jenn, I know you’re new to this industry so I want to tell you something very important. Your nails are RUDE and inappropriate.” (My three-day old manicure had a few chips). At first I was floored–like for real, the leader of one of the most prestigious brands ever is that superficial and has that little to do than to comment on my manicure?! But upon further reflection, I recognized and learned the lesson here: Know your audience and know your industry. The fashion industry is one where its leaders care a great deal for their personal brand – the clothes and makeup they use to present themselves to the world. If I’m going to play in their space, I have to play by their rules and respect what makes this industry fun, unique and slightly crazy :)
Sleep. One of my investors from Kleiner Perkins, Juliet de Baubigny, begins every conversation with me by asking how much sleep I got the night before. Not only is sleep important to stay healthy (and oh yes, to stay awake during intense days in the office) but the larger point is, create space for yourself to clear your mind. Some of my best ideas for how to grow Rent the Runway come when I’m not even thinking about the business – I may be at dinner with my boyfriend or at Physique or dreaming. Make time to sleep (and have a life) and the great ideas will come.
Do not enter an industry where you have no experience. I believe that it is because Jenny and I didn’t have experience in the fashion industry that we’ve been able to rethink some fundamental assumptions about the way it works and create an entirely new category of rental. Coming from outside the industry gives you a certain degree of naivety that enables you to blindly reach for the stars. A few months after we had the idea for Rent the Runway, we were introduced to Andrew Rosen. At the time, we had little idea who he was, how Mr. Rosen almost single handedly has transformed contemporary fashion and how many brands he directs. Had we known this, we might have been too scared to take the meeting or pitch him our idea. Naivety led to a better meeting where Andrew gave us the idea for our stylist team who could educate our younger customers on what to wear to every occasion.
Write a business plan. This one is the stupidest of them all. There is no reason to write a business plan – EVER! Strategizing for months is a complete waste of time and will likely give competitors ample time to start whatever you thought was such a genius idea and beat you to the punch. The better strategy is to just go for it, make mistakes, analyze quickly and make the appropriate changes. You can learn a lot more from buying dresses at retail, running trunk shows on college campuses and testing whether women will rent dresses (they did!) than by ‘brainstorming’ or ‘market sizing’. Professors at Harvard Business School call this the minimum viable product approach. I just call it smart and way more fun.
You’ll find the best talent when you hire a recruiter and look beyond your own network. When I look at the amazing team at Rent the Runway, I am absolutely amazed by how many of our very best people came through connections (albeit, some of them quite loose). For example, we met our Vice President of Brand Marketing Lara Crystal through a woman who I had interned with the summer before at McKinsey. People from your broader network are often pre-vetted and may exhibit more passion for your concept because they also feel a deeper connection to you personally. If you’re starting a business, start first with people you trust. You’re going to spending a huge amount of time with your team so select people who speak the same language as you (figuratively, but I guess literally too!).
In the latest installment of Jenn's Fashionpreneur column on Fashionista.com, she gives the dish on how to interview people and what's most important to look for.
A few months ago I read a post from Ben Lerer, the CEO of Thrillist that fundamentally changed how I interview. If you’re too lazy to read it, here’s a summary: when Ben started his now very successful company, he was too easy on candidates and hired anyone who showed enthusiasm for Thrillist. As a young leader, Ben lacked confidence for why someone would want to risk it all and work for him. Since then, he’s done a 180 and looks for people who are willing to sacrifice to be on his team.
As CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway, I often find myself in the position of interviewer, and it is a role I take very seriously. I never imagined two years ago when starting Rent the Runway that the vast majority of my time would be spent on recruiting talent, inspiring and coaching our team and creating a culture that our team is proud of. But now it makes sense. 100% of Rent the Runway’s success thus far is due to the incredible team we have; the right talent can transform a company from good to great, and can change a job into a family. My goal when we launched Rent the Runway was to create an environment that made me want to get out of bed in the morning a little quicker. It is so important to me that every single person on our team feel like a founder of Rent the Runway and LOVE their time here–which is why interviewing is so important. Not everyone is going to blend with Rent the Runway’s culture and not everyone will exhibit the values that make Rent the Runway an amazing place to work. While it is important to modify your interview tactics to the environment in which you work, here are some guidelines I have followed in building the team at Rent the Runway.
• Look for “an appreciation chip.” Sure, maybe it’s simplistic, but I believe there are two types of people that walk this planet: people that are negative and complain about the circumstances of their life and others who appreciate what the world has given them and view every single day as an opportunity to be happy and positive. Now listen up: this is not a Pollyanna philosophy. Having dealt with many difficult situations in my own life and family from cancer to autism, I understand that life (and work) is hard. The type of person that I’m looking for at Rent the Runway is one that can look at all the things that have happened to them in their life and consider themselves lucky; they appreciate their relationships, their family, their time working with incredible people, and they take time to have fun and enjoy. Appreciative people bring positivity to every interaction–a quality that is critical at a start-up. Imagine how little Rent the Runway would have accomplished thus far if everyone was always focused on what we can’t do instead of what we can. I ask every candidate I meet “How lucky do you consider yourself to be?” and then I listen to how they talk about their own life. Their answer is more important than ANY relevant business experience they may have.
• Culture over experience. While a candidate’s education and previous job experience is certainly important, being smart and capable is pre-requisite to getting in the door. Once you’ve cleared up whether someone can do the job, it’s critical to assess how they will do the job. How will they play with others? Will they make the people around them better and the culture richer? I pay a lot of attention in interviews to the candidate’s personality and if they will fit in with the unique culture of Rent the Runway (dream big, be scrappy, learn from mistakes). Unfortunately, I haven’t always followed my own rules and it has come back to bite me hard. Six months after launch, I hired a VP who was great on paper and in the interview room–she had the right Ivy League education and prestigious company background. However, when she started, she began to treat the members of her team horribly, often berating them (and influencing some of them to leave). After I let her go, I realized how one bad egg has the power to spread poison into your environment and demotivate people who would have otherwise given their hearts and souls to the company. I look for Rent the Runway’s values via candidates’ answers to questions, their body language, tone of voice and through thorough reference checks I will conduct post-interview.
• And back to Ben (Lerer)–Don’t sell (as much as you normally would). As a sales and marketing aficionado, it’s my first instinct to sell, sell, sell and use every superlative in the book for why Rent the Runway is amazing. But, that’s not my whole job as interviewer and often my selling can occupy a lot of the airtime that would otherwise be used to get to know the candidate. A candidate is responsible for consistently communicating why they are dying to work at your company, and how they are going to make Rent the Runway an even more amazing place to work. Just as I tell my girl friends not to settle for a relationship with any man who will date them, I often remind myself that there will be a lot of frogs you need to interview before you find your prince (or princess) charming.
From weddings and work events to black tie galas and Thanksgiving with the fam, Jenn and Jenny's calendars are pretty booked. See how they are wearing RTR this November!
11/7 - Glamour Women of the Year Awards
11/9 - San Francisco Work Event
11/19 - RTR Anniversary Party
11/24 - Thanksgiving Dinner
Jenny's Calendar (she's 8 months pregnant...due in December!)
11/5 - Wedding in Miami
11/7 - Glamour Women of the Year Awards
11/10 - Black Tie Gala
11/16 - Step Up Women's Network
Fall is right around the corner, and our calendars are booked with fashion week events, birthdays, and trips to the west coast. This September we are wearing RTR with bold jewelry and trying out some of our favorite fall trends (jewel tones, pleats, color blocking). What are you wearing RTR for this month? - Jenn & Jenny
9/3: Boyfriend's Birthday in Montana
9/8: Fashion's Night Out
9/10: My Birthday Picnic
9/13: New York Fashion Week at the Tents
9/19: LA Press Tour
9/30: Rehearsal Dinner in California
9/3: My Birthday
9/8: Fashion's Night Out
9/10: Jenn's Birthday Picnic
9/12: New York Fashion Week at the Tents
9/20: Press Dinner in L.A.
9/26: Young Patrons of Lincoln Center Gala
One of our most favorite people of all time, Demi Moore, stopped by our offices last week to learn more about Rent the Runway. The actress/mother/philanthropist is such an incredible role model for women and looked gorgeous in a floral skirt and jean jacket. Jenn and Jenny enjoyed giving her a tour of the offices, and we can't wait for Demi's next visit!
Our semi-annual clearance sale is officially live. Jenn & Jenny share their picks from RTR's greatest hits. This sale is limited time only so get them before they're gone!
Retail: $415 for sale: $175
Retail: $2,500 for sale: $500
Retail: $325 for sale: $130
Retail: $1,295 for sale: $275
Retail: $550 for sale: $250
Retail: $610 for sale: $225
Retail: $145 for sale: $50
Retail: $475 for sale: $200
Retail: $550 for sale: $75
Retail: $415 for sale: $166
Retail: $245 for sale: $98
Retail: $595 for sale: $250
Retail: $380 for sale: $125
Retail: $285 for sale: $80
We're making August a little bit special at Rent the Runway this year. Every day, we'll be giving away 1 surprise dress rental for no particular reason at all. Fee to enter? Nah. All you have to do is log onto Rent the Runway, heart the looks you love (so we know what to send you), and check us out on facebook to find out if you're a winner. You can pick any time in August or Septemeber to have one of the styles you hearted delivered.
You know how they say "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". Not this time - the heat's making us a little crazy. So hurry up and heart your favorite looks before the summer's over. -- Jenn & Jenny