Victoria Prew, Drapers 30 Under 30 alumna and co-founder of peer-to-peer fashion rental start-up Hurr Collective, tells Drapers how the business is adapting to life under lockdown.
Like many early-stage start-ups, the past few weeks have been incredibly tough for us.
The idea of renting fashion has come to a grinding halt because of the ban on public events and gatherings. In simple terms, there are no occasions to rent for. In February, Hurr launched a pop-up in Selfridges – the first time the department store has trialled fashion rental in its history. We began the year with far more success than I could have hoped for, and we were busy gearing up for the spring/summer rush.
In a matter of days, any KPIs, business metrics and growth targets had been thrown out of the window. Now is not the time to fixate on transaction volumes and sales, but instead turn our attention to all other areas of the business.
In a time of complete turmoil, there have also been moments of stillness. There has been the opportunity to reflect, take a step back and think of the bigger picture. The impact the outbreak has had on the fashion industry has highlighted our heavy reliance on supply chains and the production of new materials.
Instead, we should be focused on what we already own and refreshing our wardrobes through re-wearing, resale or rental. In previous uncertain economic climates, the fashion resale market has thrived and in a similar way, wardrobe rental platforms should perform strongly in a downturn as consumers seek to economise.
I feel fortunate to run an incredibly lean start-up, where our investments have always been tech-based and focused on building a market-leading product. Supply is also key to any peer-to-peer marketplace, and we are actively encouraging and incentivising users to list their wardrobes on our site.
We’re trying to spotlight our top lenders, share new content and use our platform to find ways we can inspire each other from home. We need to make it easy for our members to keep talking to us, and engage in the conversation so that when this storm passes, we’ll be raring to go with our community right behind us.
We’ve also been looking for tech-first ways to help fight Covid-19 in a way that’s direct and as high-impact as possible. We are donating the excess computing power of Hurr computers and servers to support Folding@home, a program created by Stanford University in the US.
The initiative uses computer power to accelerate the efforts to develop new life-saving therapies, using algorithms to understand virus proteins’ moving parts. Each algorithm we help to run is like buying a lottery ticket. The more tickets we buy, the better the chances of hitting the jackpot. Any company that survives this will feel like they’ve hit the jackpot too.
Disruptive business models will prevail and, for us, it’s back to the very basics of running a start-up: stay lean, pivot quickly, invest in your product and look after your team.
There will be a time when we return to “normality”, when we reopen our Selfridges pop-up and events commence. When it happens, we’ll be more ready than ever.