How I Started Something Borrowed NY Without A Technical Co-Founder (And Why I Want One Now)
By Brittany Haas (Co-Founder, Something Borrowed NY)
It all started with four sisters. Being the youngest, I watched my older sisters struggle with buying a dress that cost them more than one month’s rent. Beyond the heartbreak of spending that much on one item, it can only be worn once, and you need to find space to store it in your 400 sq ft apartment.
Hence Something Borrowed NY was born. We wanted to rent designer bridal gowns from a store in NYC to brides like us; ones who loved high fashion, hated the price tag, and didn’t value the possession of a one-time wear item.
I recruited a college friend of mine who was in the bridal industry to tackle the project with me. We contacted designers, boutique owners, gown preservationists, entrepreneurs, investors, VCs, angels…everyone! We had the 40 page business plan, a financial plan, and designers ready to sell.
The only thing we were missing was investment. Owning a store in Manhattan with multiple sizes of wedding gowns is a costly venture. As we approached VCs and angels back in the beginning of 2011, they were only focused on one word: Traction.
I understood their point. Show “proof of concept” using the least viable product — the lean startup method. No one was interested in brick and mortar, only internet based businesses. So, we pivoted.
The website for SomethingBorrowedNY was launched and rented bridal ACCESSORIES to brides all over the country (and the UK) for their wedding day. Although women don’t necessarily value the possession of their gown, we believe they still value the experience of finding “the dress” with their friends and family in a boutique setting. Focusing on accessories allowed us to still help brides save money, while still letting them have their traditional gown experience. The site launched with press from Martha Stewart Weddings, Bride Finds, and Refinery29.com. Yet, things were about to get harder.
My co-founder was offered an irresistible job. I was so excited for her and we’re still best friends today, but I was now left running the company on my own, while still holding a full-time job of my own. My day job keeps me busy from 9-7, and my nights are filled with networking events or working non-stop on the website, blog and logistics. I hired interns to help with social media, but the intricacies of running a business while holding a full-time job are starting to tire me out!
Thankfully, our site was launched on the platform Shopify which allows me to easily update new product to the site and use basic HTML to edit the page aesthetically. However, I’m starting to realize there ARE certain website developments that I cannot code myself.
Here are the reasons why I’m considering finding a technical co-founder:
- Investors don’t invest in people — they invest in TEAMS: I’m eager to join an incubator, or to begin fundraising again now that we have the traction we need. However, without a management team to back me up, I’ll never be able to associate with those types of crowds.
- I don’t have the money to hire anyone: It would be easy for me to contract a developer, a designer, a PR firm etc. to help take Something Borrowed NY to the next level, but it would require a LOT of extra money. As successful as we’ve been, we don’t have the capital to hire the team we need.
- It takes a lot of pressure off: It’s hard to do it all on your own! My “ex-founder” and I had a perfect “yin and yang” of playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Plus it’s easier to craft an argument or prove your case when you have the assistance of others. Yet, connecting with a co-founder is an emotional relationship. It’s finding that “special someone” who you can trust to own a part of your business! That’s something that can only come with time and doesn’t usually happen with a stranger.
As of now, it’s a one-woman operation. But I know that the key to success is delegating those skills that you’re not proficient in, to others. I’m looking for people who are passionate about the concept and have the tenacity that a start-up requires. If you’re looking to become a part of our team, or know anyone who may be interested, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Brittany Haas is Co-Founder of Something Borrowed NY. Always drawing and designing, she graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Fiber Science & Apparel Design. Upon graduation she decided to learn the business side of the fashion industry. Since then, she’s gained experience as a financial planner for several top Fashion houses, and now brings her business savvy to the bridal industry. Follow her on Twitter at @brittanyhaas.