The China Post
“Graduation season is almost here and this outfit would work for the graduation party… Lots of times people buy clothes for weddings and only use them once, so it might be good to consider renting … Aside from carrying the latest pieces worn by fashion models, we also have designer brands.” So says the tall and slender Joanna Kuo as she eagerly pulls items from the wardrobe of “Sista Closet” to introduce one by one.
This is Taiwan’s sole platform for renting clothes to models. “The wardrobe of a woman is always missing one piece” — this phenomenon had made a huge impression on Kuo, who used to rock the runway for renowned modeling firm “Catwalk.” “When you do a television segment, your clothes need to draw the attention of the camera. For public appearances, models are afraid of wearing the same thing and so they look for something that’s yet to be seen. For films, the fashion design has to be more gentle and graceful to attract favor.”
‘It’s hard to part with secondhand clothes’: The Beginning of a Business Idea
By her own reckoning, Joanna had averaged NT$20,000 to 30,000 a month trying to keep up with the latest fashions. But this caused storage problems. “I couldn’t bear to sell them. Plus, some of the pieces cost more than NT$10,000 new and can only fetch NT$2,000 to NT$3,000 used.”
“All of my friends have bulging wardrobes.” So she came up with an idea: She would gather her friends and they would rent out their clothes. “Clothes worn by models and that are internet-famous are all very popular. They often draw packed crowds at auctions. So this has got to be a potential profit-turner.” Thus, the seeds of a business were sown.
Not sure where to start, Kuo enrolled in courses on how to start a business, but realized that she would learn quickest if she were able to shadow a real-life boss. But with only a vocational degree, she knew that relying on simply sending a resume would not get her very far, and that she would eliminated immediately from consideration. Later, she focused her attention on the lectures of management guru James Ku, president of the Elite of International CEO Academy. Once there, she put forth her question: “I’ve got a business idea, but I’m new at this. I need your help.”
Ku’s impression of her was deep. “She always sat in the front row and immediately indicated her intent to run a startup. I was a bit doubtful because it was my impression that beautiful models could not fathom the difficulties that come with running a startup.” But her hard work and resolve convinced Ku. “The most important part of a startup is the people. Even though people can be green when starting out, these deficiencies can be compensated for by those with management experience. The critical part is whether there is determination. She showed me her entrepreneurial hunger, and her ideas were truly original. Pooling the clothing of models saves on costs and is something that doesn’t exist in Asia. In the U.S., designer clothing rental platforms have already amassed NT$60 million in capital.”
Ku says that by looking at the average revenue per user (APRU), one can calculate growth potential. The higher the average, the greater the chances of success. Kuo’s APRU is currently 500 dollars, more than double that of U.S. based platform Rent the Runway.