How This Entrepreneurial Fashion Duo Turned One Idea Into a Business
Ever had a brilliant business idea that never quite made it to fruition? Well take a cue from innovative husband and wife duo Dean and Audrey Jones who did exactly the opposite. When the clever couple decided to turn a simple light-bulb moment and idea into a designer dress rental business, GlamCorner, never did they image the success that followed. Since launching four years ago in 2012, GlamCorner now has over 1000 designer dresses available for their customers to hire—it’s safe to say their journey is an inspiring one. Read on to find out how the pair turned a simple idea into a business, their secret to successfully working together as a couple, and find out the things they know now, but wish they knew before starting out.
When did you launch GlamCorner?
We launched GlamCorner in late 2012.
When and how was the initial business idea born?
Audrey found herself with a lot of events to go and a wardrobe full of dresses that she could only wear once. After wondering whether there was a way to hire designer dresses, Audrey jumped online and discovered Rent The Runway in the U.S. Given that this was such an excellent concept and that no such thing existed in Australia, we decided to build it. And so, GlamCorner was born.
What was the process in turning the initial business idea into reality?
We had to get a minimum viable product (“MVP”) up and running as soon as possible to test whether this concept had any traction in the Australian market. Most textbooks you read make doing this sound like a super-easy thing—it wasn’t. We had to have our original website built by a third-party developer shop. This ran about three to four months behind schedule, was over-budget, and delayed the launch. Fortunately, during that time we were able to build some wholesale relationships with designers who were interested in the concept. We were also able to test the concept with our Facebook ‘coming soon’ page—in this way, social media became so important to building an early customer base for us. From there we could validate the concept and build the initial idea into an operating business, but we still had a long way to go from there!
What are the things you know now, but wish you had known before you started the business?
This business model is like e-commerce meets air traffic control. As it has grown, we’ve needed to make some significant investments in the technology platform to cope with this. So I wish I knew how much harder delivering it was going to be compared to plain-vanilla e-commerce.
What has been the biggest hurdle in starting the business?
One of the biggest hurdles in starting this business was the reverse-logistics involved with renting out a dress via mail and getting it back on time and in one piece! Back in 2012-13, even Australia Post was struggling to cope with the demands that the online shopping boom was placing on their parcel delivery system. We had to do a lot of testing through trial and error to ensure we can provide the same level of service to a customer in Bondi Beach to a customer on an army base in Alice Springs. So this was a big hurdle, but the things we learned back then are the backbone of our (more sophisticated) systems today,
What has been the key to your success?
That’s a hard one—not because I don’t now, but because it’s hard to single it down to one thing. What’s more, as an entrepreneur, you’re never “done”, so it’s hard to accept that you’ve achieved a level of success just yet. But if I had to answer this, it would be that I refuse to give up. Time and time again I’ve found that the reason why I found a solution to a business problem was because I never stopped looking. If I had stopped early on, then I never would have found the answer.
What, if any, changes have you made to the business since launch? What learnings have you made along the way?
I wouldn’t change a thing—I would rather have been doing even more of what we’re already doing sooner, and on a bigger scale. For example, we now have over 1,000 designer dresses for our beautiful customers to hire from us. I wish I had that number a year ago! The main learning from this is that there is no ‘playbook’ when building a business in a new and innovative area. While it’s easy to look back in hindsight and say ‘I wish I did this etc etc” you simply have to run as fast as you can with the resources you have and make decisions with the best information you have at that time.
You both work together on GlamCorner—how does that partnership work?
Dean and I are great partners—that’s why we got married! We’ve got each other’s backs and are obsessed with making GlamCorner the biggest success it can be. It’s a great feeling to wake up every day and know that is what we have to do—together.
What is the best thing about working together?
We often joke about this. People think we would get in each other’s way like most married couples do. Dean and I actually divide and conquer our various responsibilities in managing GlamCorner such that there’s days there where we don’t talk or see each other for 8-10 hours! I run the engine room operations and Dean is up on the flight deck making sure the ship is heading in the right direction. So this balance works really well for us and it’s great to share this journey together.
What is your number one tip for couples that work together?
Don’t listen to what you hear about couples working together and it infringing on their relationship—it’s not universally true and it probably comes down to the individuals and their unique relationship. In fact, for the right couple it will probably make your relationship stronger than ever. We know it has for us.
What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?
Building and growing a business is probably one of the most challenging and rewarding things someone can do in their lives. It’s easy to read and learn about it and think that it’s going to be an easy and liberating experience. Having the freedom to run your own business is a huge responsibility—you have obligations to your customers, your team, and possibly even your backers/investors. All of this takes more guts and determination than you even knew you had in you. So it’s so incredibly rewarding to come up for air every now and then and look back at how far you’ve come and the impact you’re having on so many people’s lives. And you don’t have to have built a billion dollar company to do this—anyone can do it, you just have to take the plunge to find out.
What is your number one tip for aspiring entrepreneurs with a great idea?
Move fast and break things. Our company has been moving pretty fast since we started, and has accelerated over the past nine-12 months. While this level of speed has created a lot of headaches, we have also iterated and improved our product, service and platform in the process. The fear of breaking things can commonly be paralysing, but you need to remember that at least the cost of breaking something is known, which is small compared to the unknown cost of never achieving something at all. When I look back at our company after even six months of doing this, we have literally come light-years from where we were.
Have an event coming up, but nothing to wear? Head to GlamCorner and treat yourself to a designer number without the price tag.
Have you turned a business idea into a reality? Share your tips and advice with us below!