Vow To Be Chic chief executive officer and founder Kelsey Doorey looks to build on the buzz around her bridesmaid’s dress rental firm, armed with new capital.
The Santa Monica firm quietly closed on an additional $2.5 million in December, bringing its total raised to date to more than $10 million. That latest raise — which included existing investors Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Wavemaker Partners in addition to new investor Plum Alley — follows a $5 million close in 2016, which was focused on building out the company’s inventory and technology. Now the firm looks to make sure more women are aware of the rental service the company offers.
“The thing for us is we’re a new Millennial ‘cool’ company in a mostly outdated industry,” Doorey said. “Bridal hasn’t changed much in decades and so, for us, we leverage that.”
So what does that look like?
The company recently linked with Monique Lhuillier on a six-piece, exclusive capsule collection. Vow To be Chic then worked with ABC’s “The Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay on the launch of one of the dresses in the capsule, which came complete with a November engagement party in Los Angeles that helped generate over 200 million impressions.
The company has also worked with celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss and was involved with Michael Phelps’ marriage to Nicole Johnson.
The key will be more exclusive collections moving forward. Doorey said there are some in the works, but declined to provide more details.
“For us, it’s all about our consumer. We are a company by Millennial women for Millennial women,” Doorey said. “We’ve really seen the power of the influencer and the celebrity, especially when it’s genuine and that’s really key to us. It has to be genuine on both sides. We’re all too used to ads and sponsored content right now.”
Doorey when asked if scaling the business would mean going outside the wedding industry at some point to pluck new revenue streams, said with so few competitors, the focus for now would remain on weddings.
“For us, it’s really about continuing to grow our business in a lean and scrappy way,” she said. “We’re still a startup. My goal has been to raise as little capital as possible because that gives the business as many options as possible.”
Doorey believes rental will become a core part of retail’s future, but it’s not the end-all answer for the industry. Ultimately, the concept of renting, she pointed out, could very well solve return rate issues and is consistent with a more sustainably minded consumer.
“Is there going to be one answer [for retail]? Not necessarily, but I think it’s going to play a key role in it,” Doorey said. “Every woman will own basics. Some jeans and T-shirts. Most of your closet you don’t even wear every week or every month, so there’s a huge segment of our closet that can be part of the rental industry. Influencers and celebrities are wearing a different outfit everyday but that’s not realistic for most women and so fast fashion has been a way to go about that. But that’s not good for the environment.”