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Rent the Runway's Jenny Fleiss on Why No Is Never the End of the Conversation

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Though there are a number of great fashion companies that have launched in the last 10 years, Rent the Runway is arguably the one that has impacted young women the most. After all, this nearly 10 year old company democratized fashion for the masses. "The feeling of when you put yourself together, that's a really powerful thing," Co-Founder Jenny Fleiss said on Friday at the Project Entrepreneur Intensive Conference held by Rent the Runway in partnership with UBS. 

By expanding your closet (without actually taking up more space, which is a true miracle for tiny apartment dwellers) to essentially nearly all of your favorite brands, Rent the Runway is truly the Netflix of fashion. It fixed the problem of 20-something women being at their lowest earning point in their lives yet making appearances at high stake opportunity events, Fleiss explained. Let's also not forget that with the advent of social media we all became our own brands, which puts even more pressure on our clothes. Fleiss, echoing a friend, noted that "Facebook kills outfits."

Though to most of us RTR sounds like a million dollar idea (actually a $60 million dollar idea after a 2016 investment round led by Fidelity) but when they were first starting out, not everyone thought so like Diane von Furstenberg who the girls, then still in school at Harvard Business, had a random connection to and reached out to to just get feedback on their "project." The fashion legend wasn't into it. She thought it was an awful idea. Many of the venture capitalists (who were typically male and white) they pitched the company to also didn't think it was a serious idea. One man even called the company "cute" (see what her Co-Founder thought about that here.) But Fleiss emphasizes that part of being an entrepreneur is not backing down after a rejection. "Entrepreneurship breeds energy," she said. "The biggest thing you can do wrong is dwell on that [the no] too much. You pick up and go to the next meeting. You can make a big fuss or you can put your energy towards more productive things. No doesn't mean no, it just means not right now. We're nine years into Rent the Runway and it still has ways to go. Entrepreneurship is all about innovation, but change takes time. You just have to have that thick skin and keep trying." Always ⁠.

Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

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