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How Designer Wardrobe raised nearly $2m in private equity

Designer Wardrobe is an online marketplace where users list, sell, rent or look for designer items.

Brooke founded Designer Wardrobe in 2013, originally through Facebook, as a way to pay rent after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

The Facebook page saw a rapid success and encouraged Brooke to set up a business platform after recovering back to full health.

The platform now has a growing customer base of more than 87,000 members with more than 26,000 listings and about 1.2 million page views per month.

Brooke’s Snowball Effect hit $1.7 million in the space of a few days, now the young entrepreneur has plans set to grow her business.

What do you hope to achieve now that your investment target has been hit?

We are focused on women’s clothing, so we really wanted to create a couple of new categories DW men and DW kids.

We also want to buy stock to create a rental store within Designer Wardrobe, because right now it’s just peer to peer rental. We’ve always wanted to buy our own stock and make our own rental store, but we wanted the right time in the business and make sure we did it right. Also, we want to [extended our market reach] out to Australia.

What are the plans for a site owned rental store?

We’d love to work with New Zealand and Australian designers. But then also, we’re thinking about getting in some Gucci – Belts, handbags, leather jackets, some things like that would work really well within the rental store.

I wanted to do it a little bit different than what is going on at the moment. Currently, it’s really focused on dresses and playsuits, and I want to continue that, but also with some items available that are a bit different and special.

How does Designer Wardrobe differentiate to other rental marketplaces?

Basically, we brought rental to New Zealand because of the Facebook page. And because of that, we’ve been really supportive of girls starting their own rental sites that have these companies and just work through Designer Wardrobe [as a second platform]. On top of that, we focus on peer to peer, so the reason that we’re different is that we’ve got thousands of different women renting out their own items.

How does the ‘Wanted’ section compare to the rest of your site?

Wanted is another section that started on the Facebook page, basically, with designer items, there is always those ‘must haves’… And so, wanted is that option for people to say they are looking for an item.

That way if someone’s got it and wants to part with it, they can send them the listing and part with it that way. Now, we’re going to be working around that too and creating some wonderful functions for it. And I’m really excited as that actually can be a lot bigger than it is at the moment.

Do you find Designer Wardrobe works as a trend assessment tool?

Definitely, for me, I find that I can see what is in trend and what is loved by the fashioned community. And I myself learn a lot from it and I know that a lot of users do too.

What we’re also doing is creating a blog, so we can talk about that with our community a bit more. So, if we see a product or an amazing trend we will speak about it through that blog.

We had [a busy season] at first, but it’s balancing out now. When we first started, we were on trend with all the fashion seasons, but now it’s kind of gone and people are kind of creating a new way of buying and selling that’s not as seasonal.

Do you hold own stock items?

We have a section called DW Stores right now that we’re testing out. Right now, we’ve got a couple of stores on there, who have sale items that have a second home on the Designer Wardrobe to sell.

Just because we’ve got a great community of girls, so we’re really going to be working on that, we’ve spoken to a few designers who are going to kind of use Designer Wardrobe as their outlet.

Who would be your dream designer collaboration for the new rental stores?

Ruby is our biggest and most popular designer on Designer Wardrobe, and that’s really great. Because we do have Australian designers so it’s really cool that it’s a New Zealand label that is the most popular. We definitely think it would be so amazing if Ruby could jump on store with the rental.

This story first appeared at  The Register.
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