Jennifer Hyman, A Woman Entrepreneur shaping the Fashion Industry
Jennifer Hyman is an entrepreneur and co-founder of the successful venture called, “Rent the Runway”. Rent the Runway is a start-up that has revolutionized the way women shop and provide unlimited option to women’s wardrobe. The idea behind the business came to her when she realised women spending much more than men on attires and they don’t need to do that. From there onwards an idea hits her mind which resulted into the foundation of her incredibly successful start-up – Rent the Runway which is focused on renting out high end clothing and accessories. Simply put, a woman can rent a dress for an occasion and send it back to company when it is done. Undoubtedly, the idea was unique economical and convenient.
Talking about her journey with Rent the Runway, Jennifer puts that her business idea is based on the theory called “Experience economy”. She observed that people want to spend more on experiences and not on materials but they tend to spend on materials because it makes their experiences shines. And that’s where she kicked of an idea to make experiences better with least spending on secondary things. In a very short span of time, the company transformed itself from an online special-dress rental service company to a brick and mortar wardrobe appearance. However, the success does not come overnight.
It all started when Hyman discussed with her batch-mate Jennifer Fleiss to co-founded a rental clothing service and Fleiss agreed. Both were Harvard Business School scholars. They launched Rent the Runway in 2009. They provided subscription plans to the customers at varying prices. Apart from that, customers can rent up clothes for 4-8 days of span without signing a subscription. Not only this they hired designers and established their physical presence at various locations so that customers can directly connect with the designers and customised their dresses for events.
Today, the company provides clothes from over 700 designers. Today, it operates in more than six cities with headquarter based in New York. The company also rolled out the same day delivery option which made Rent the Runway a viable option for customers. Presently, It has more than 1 lakhs active subscribers and more than 6 million customer base.
Under Hyman’s leadership, Rent the Runway has expended to 600 labels. Since its launch, the company has raised over $525 million in capital and achieved $1 billion of valuation. In 2017, the company’s revenue accounted at $100 million. However, there were various downsides behind the success. Initially, she faced discrimination and sexual harassment as a women in Technology. Male investors did not understand her business and also questioned her capabilities and management styles. Consequently, she also lost seven executives within a year.
Her company also faced criticism from former employees. Many compared the workplace culture with “Means Girls” movie. There were many other words of criticism and disgrace covered efficiently by the news channels like CNBC. But it did not stop her to create what she passionately wanted and today it is one of the successful companies operating in USA. Also responding to the question of selling her venture, Jennifer boldly deny and gracefully affirm to continue it for more 50 years of her life.
The company listed in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list in 2011, 2015, 2018, and 2019. Hyman was listed in Fortune’s Trailblazers list of individuals changing the face of Business. In 2019, Jennifer Hyman recognized in TIMES 100 Most Influential People list. She is also listed in Forbes’s “Women Entrepreneurs to Watch”, Fast’s Most Influential Women in Technology, and Fortune’s “40 under 40”. She currently serves on the Board of Directors position at The Estée Lauder Company, set on the Advisory board of Women.nyc. Today, Jennifer Hymn with her technological soul is a big name in the fashion Industry.