Designer bridesmaid dress rental company Vow to Be Chic just said “I do” to Series A funding.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company disclosed the $5 million round today, which brings its total funding raised to date to $8 million. Investors included Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Wavemaker Partners, which participated in the company’s earlier round of funding, along with Women’s Venture Capital Fund.
The latest capital infusion will be funneled toward building out the company’s technology systems and other infrastructure to accommodate its growth, according to founder and chief executive officer Kelsey Doorey.
Vow to Be Chic launched in 2013 and aims to offer the next generation of brides and bridesmaids designer options at affordable prices via rentals on its site, while still offering the choice of buying for those who want to own. Bridesmaid rentals start at $50, with dresses coming from Monique Lhuillier, Nicole Miller and 19 other designers.
The company saw sales grow tenfold last year and has seen double-digit growth month over month since then. Vow to Be Chic doesn’t disclose exact revenue, said Doorey, who, when asked if the firm has begun realizing a profit, added the company is focused on growth.
Vow to Be Chic, which has close to 20 workers, will likely see its headcount double with the new funding, and is in the process of moving to a larger headquarters and showroom space closer to the Santa Monica Promenade.
In May, the company began selling accessories from about four designers, and part of the Series A capital will also go toward building out that offering, Doorey said.
“We focused on rental in the past in our messaging, but we’re realizing our customers like that optionality,” Doorey said. “Millennials love that. Millennials love having that choice.”
Also top of mind for the company is the build-out of its showroom, something that will get more space upon the office’s move.
“[It’s about] giving women in L.A. the option to come in, in person,” Doorey said. “Again, for Millennials, it’s all about options. So definitely having that expanded space and having that larger area for women.”
The idea of sourcing a tux or gown for those in the bridal party is an area of the marketplace that’s being looked at more closely as Millennials, who have now become accustomed to digital retailing, get older and prepare for marriage. Those new ways of researching and purchasing a dress have given way to a growing marketplace with other players in the field that include Weddington Way, based out of San Francisco, which sells gowns and now also offers suit and tuxedo rentals. There’s also men’s-only-focused online shops such as Combatant Gentlemen, of Irvine, Calif., and The Black Tux, of Santa Monica, as well as former Men’s Wearhouse chairman George Zimmer’s Generation Tux.
The idea of adding men’s isn’t a focus for Vow to Be Chic at the moment, Doorey said, adding that there’s enough opportunity still to be had focusing solely on bridal to build out the business.
“The bridal industry is incredibly outdated, for the most part, and is not really aligned with the way a Millennial wants to shop,” she said. “She wants online options. She wants items that are shipped right to her doorstep. She doesn’t necessarily want to run all over town to different boutiques.”