Briella Brown was 16 when she began her first venture Your Closet, an online dress rental startup. She saw a problem in the market of girls wanting to hire rather than buy designer dresses for formal occasions. However at 16, Brown didn’t think of herself as an entrepreneur, but rather just someone with an idea.
“I had this vision and I just wanted to get there, but over the past two or three years it’s been all those things that you don’t think about when starting a business. I’m not that proficient in technology and logistics and things like that, but you just have to figure out a way to make it all happen,” she admitted.
For budding entrepreneurs learning from people who have grown and scaled businesses from their backyards is the best way to get started. From having no technical skills, it was essential for Brown to learn as much as possible from people who had been there and done that.
Brown was involved in the Scaleable and Saleable program at The Entourage where she was provided with practical knowledge, tangible skills and resources needed to run an online business in a digitally driven world.
One of the biggest challenges for an online rental business like Your Closet is systemising back-end logistics. Sorting out logistics can be costly. When scaling poor customer experiences will lead to slow customer acquisition, therefore it’s important to take things a little slower to deliver a smooth and seamless experience.
“Being a dress rental business we rely heavily on timely deliveries and well-executed systems to ensure the highest quality control for our customers. It is something that I hadn’t had much experience in so am happy to be finally working through our custom logistics solutions,” said Brown.
Talking to customers and delivering a positive experience is a large part of the lean startup methodology. Through the Scaleable and Saleable program, Brown learned the concept ‘Green Braining,’ which is all about engaging with customers and their problems on an emotional level. Engaging with words, sounds and visuals ignites a better response from customers and has helped Brown with conversions through the Your Closet website.
Since its launch last year, Your Closet has partnered with designers including Alex, Camilla, Nicholas and Josh Goot. Brown said that she is about to introduce Thurley’s line of lace dresses and also fascinators in time for the spring racing season so customers will be able to rent at a whole look.
“One of the things that was really important to me at the beginning of the business was fostering Australian designers. I’m really proud that we partner directly with our designers to have all of their consent to rent their dresses,” Brown said.
The startup recently appeared on Shark Tank, where Brown secured an $80,000 investment for a split 30 percent stake from the founder of Boost Juice, Janine Allis and founder of RedBalloon, Naomi Simson.
Since securing the funding on Shark Tank, which was filmed earlier this year, Your Closet has opened up a warehouse in Brookvale and also partnered with delivery company Shippit.
Currently Your Closet has 600 dresses in stock from sizes six to 16. Brown said that she wants to triple the startup’s design selection and also begin offering sizes 18 and 20 to cover more body shapes and sizes.
Having successfully proven its concept, Your Closet is now in its growth stage and is working on scaling its customer base and product range. Brown said she is excited to start scaling internationally, but will take things slow to test how shipping and logistics works across waters.
Image: Briella Brown. Source: Supplied.