By: Meredith Welborn
SMU Look: Tell me a little bit about you. How did Rent My Wardrobe get started? What inspired you to create this app?
Rachel Sipperley: Being a girl in Dallas, I was constantly going to events and galas. With social media, Instagram, and everything being photographed and instantly available, girls don’t even want to share dresses with their best friends anymore. I think we see the collaborative economy in other verticals, and it made sense that fashion would be the next vertical to fall into. You know, I didn’t have a background in fashion or tech at all. I just saw a need. The heart and passion of it is giving women a platform to make their own money.
SL: Can you explain to me how the process of RMW works exactly?
RS: Download the app, take pictures of dresses that you already own, and post them in an online closet. You can message each other and request rental dates. You can request a fitting through the app to make sure that it fits which is nice because the other rental sites don’t offer that — if it doesn’t fit you’re kind of stuck with it. Once you are done with the dress, you can either return it back or drop it off directly at the cleaners and just snap a picture of the dry cleaning receipt. You can upload it to the app, and then the girls can go pick it up.
SL: I know that RMW is based in Dallas, but do you have any current plans for expansion?
RS: Yes! Hopefully by the end of the year, we will be in Austin and Houston, and then we have plans to go to New York, L.A., Atlanta and Charleston the next year… and Miami!
SL: What were the biggest problems you had to overcome in the making of RMW?
RS: There is so much you don’t know. Not having a tech background or a technical co-founder. I really kind of jumped off a cliff and built the plane on the way down hoping the parachute would open. It is substantially more cumbersome than anything I imagined. Initially, I thought it would take 6 months to build, and it’s been almost a year and a half of blood, sweat, and tears.
SL: For women who want to work in the business field, what do you hope they learn from RMW?
RS: I really want to use this as a platform to educate younger girls. So, your dad gets you a homecoming dress. You could rent that out three times, and then have enough money to pay for your prom dress. Or, also teaching supply and demand. So, you have a killer red Vera Wang dress, you could probably rent that out that out Valentine’s weekend for triple what you would normally.
SL: What’s your #1 piece of advice for a woman who has an idea and wants to start a company?
RS: Truthfully, this entire process has solidified the idea that I need to write a book for women entrepreneurs! In the last month, I’ve had like 4 people come to me saying they want to build an app. There’s really no manuel to it. You really have to grind and have grit to just figure it out because no one is going to hold your hand. I mean maybe, but I grew up very differently and didn’t have any sort of connections. It’s definitely about who you know, but it’s a lot about what you know when you’re an entrepreneur. You have to be able to have dogged determination to not give up. I’ve wanted to quit so many times. It’s hard. You just can’t give up.
SL: Why do you think having consumer-to-consumer communication is so important, and why do you think that’s a better approach than say, Rent The Runway?
RS: I think [about] the collaborative economy we’re seeing like dog-walking apps. I rent my car out on Turo all the time. In the next 15 years if you look at the market trends and listen to people way above my paygrade, I don’t think people are really going to “own” outside of athleisure, undergarments, and basic[s]. I really don’t think anyone is going to own clothes. Think about your music. When was the last time you bought a record? No one thinks of buying music anymore. When an album is released you just download it on Spotify. Everything is going that direction — whether it be clothing, cars, whatever. While Rent the Runway offers a rental, how this is different is that this gives the lister an opportunity to make money.