Kristy Wieber, president of 2012 E-commerce Innovation Award winning Rent frock Repeat, talks social media, the sharing economy and the future.
When Kristy Wieber and Lisa Delorme, co-founders of Rent frock Repeat, won a Canada Post E-commerce Innovation Award for Best Multi-Channel Retailer back in 2012, the timing couldn’t have been better.
Their designer dress rental business – conceived originally as an online-only enterprise and launched from Lisa’s basement – was less than a year old, and the women had just opened their first brick-and-mortar showroom in Toronto.
Where are they now?
From having a single employee and 10,000 online members, they now serve 80,000 loyal clients, employ a staff of 20, and have opened an additional showroom, located in Ottawa. In her own words, president Kristy Wieber reflects on what she’s learned along the way, and where Rent frock Repeat is headed next.
Best business move, hands down
“The one question we kept hearing was, ‘can we try it on?’ So three months into the business, we listened to our customers and opened a showroom.”
Hindsight is 20/20
“What we’ve come to realize since we started is that Rent frock Repeat is a customer service company, not a fashion company. Shopping with us is more about the experience than the dress itself. When we first launched, our tagline was ‘release your inner runway,’ but after a while we changed it to ‘less stuff, more life.’
Winning strategy: divide and conquer
“In the beginning Lisa and I were both doing a lot of the same things because we had to. But as the company grew, we just naturally divided the responsibilities to fit our strengths. Lisa’s very big picture: driving the business forward, meeting with investors and thinking about who we can partner with. I’m more detail oriented. I look at how we can make things more efficient and how we can run more smoothly. It’s very yin and yang and works really well.”
Winning awards feels good – and it’s good for business
“In terms of the cost of doing business, winning the Canada Post E-commerce Innovation Award was a huge help to us. Besides the shipping credits, it also gave us credibility to say ‘hey, we’ve won an award and it’s from Canada Post, someone people trust and rely on.’ So there was a cachet that came with that.
Part of the award also included a marketing prize which we used to produce a direct mail postcard. We didn’t see the effects immediately because we’re not an impulse purchase kind of business, but we would have women come in carrying the card in their hand saying ‘this is how I heard about you guys.’ So for us, the brand awareness was fantastic.”
Singing the praises of social media
“Women don’t want to be seen in the same dress. And with more and more people posting pictures of events to social media, their need for special occasion outfits is growing. It’s been a huge boon to our business. In terms of growing our business, Instagram and Facebook are also great because we can show a dress that we just got in that’s not yet online. Social media is a very natural, cohesive thing for us.”
The rise of collaborative consumption
“As we were growing, the sharing economy was starting to take off and we realized we had a big role to play in that. There’s a great TED Talk by Rachel Botsman about the sharing economy where she says, ‘I don’t need a drill. I need a hole in the wall. So I’m going to rent the drill to get the hole in the wall.’ And for us it’s the same thing.
Our customers think ‘I don’t need this dress. I just need something for a certain event. Renting this is such a good idea.’ We love being a part of that. It’s like being part of a big community.”
The future looks bright
“The plan right now is to host some pop-ups across the country, and introduce more products like maternity wear. We’re looking at another permanent location too, and we’re also looking at some really strategic retail partnerships.”
To submit an application for the 2017 E-commerce Innovation Awards, visit canadapost.ca/ecommerceawards.
The deadline to apply is May 26.