Rent the Runway is arguably one of the most successful startups we have seen emerge in the last decade (it started in 2009.) After all, it solved multiple problems. The first one it fixed was that young women have limited funds to spend on their wardrobe and at a time when they are making appearances at high stake opportunity events both in their career and social lives.
When social media exploded and became an outfit killer once your outfit was seen on multiple platforms, it let you never repeat an outfit again with the launch of Rent the Runway Unlimited. And, for anyone that doesn’t have a closet like Cher from Clueless (so the majority of us), this expanded our closet infinitely without having to build an addition on our homes.
With Americans experiencing “wardrobe panic” 36 times a year, an infinite closet is pretty darn smart. That is why this past February the company received $21 million from Blue Pool Capital, which is run by Alibaba founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, bringing the company’s total venture funding to nearly $210 million, (they just had a $20 million investment), according to ReCode.
No network, many problems
Cofounders Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss are now household names and startup legends but when they first launched their company, now dubbed “the Netflix of fashion,” fresh out of Harvard Business School they felt a bit lost as they didn’t really have that absolutely essential network of people you need for your career to succeed.
“At the beginning we had nothing! We had Jenny and I, who had limited work experience to start out, and there was really no entrepreneurial community in New York at the time. Every single question that came up we just had to figure out on our own, which we did but it just took us longer than it probably need to,” Fleiss told Ladders recently.
A recent survey found that though many black women are confident and have dreams of entrepreneurship, they are not so confident when it comes to financial planning. Northwestern Mutual, a leading financial services company, asked women about finances, 48% consider themselves confident, and more than one-third of women attribute this to not having a financial plan in place, the survey findings show.
“I think oftentimes as women, we’re not talking about [financial planning] as much. It’s not part of our daily conversations—it’s more private,” says Andrea K. Williams, a certified financial planner with Northwestern Mutual. “The more we have conversations about these things, I think that will set them in the right direction to better prepare for [financial goals including] entrepreneurship.”
Black Enterprise talked with Williams on four quick money tips for women 9-to-5ers seeking to become more confident in taking charge in planning for entrepreneurship.