Interview: Girl Meets Dress (HTF Exclusive Fashion Interview)

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Spot any stylish female sporting a killer frock and a sassy confidence, chances are she’s in on fashion’s biggest secret. Forget the hefty price tag and dejected lusting after designer dresses way beyond your reach, (we both know they’re destined to spend eternity collecting dust at the back of your wardrobe anyway) and look no further than top dress rental company, Girl Meets Dress

Stocking a wide selection of over 4000 designer dresses from Dolce & GabbanaAlice And OliviaMiu Miu and Victoria Beckham, just to name a few: the dilemma of looking fabulous on a budget is resolved with a simple click of a button and the ring of a doorbell. With designer dresses available to hire at a slash of the retail price and customers encouraged to select up to 3 dresses to try on - but only pay for the one they wear – it’s no surprise Girl Meets Dress have got customers and critics coming back for more!

Girl Meet Dress’ firm online presence and excitable rapport with their happy customers is just a sample of what’s earned them multiple business and style awards, but behind the success of the brand is the passionate direction and entrepreneurial talent of co-founder Anna Bance. Having risen through the fashion ranks and proved herself a success in both the business and the style stakes, we wanted to hear more about Girl Meets Dress from the lady herself.

HTF: Anna, tell us how Girl Meets Dress came about?

A: The Girl Meets Dress story began in 2009 when I was working as UK PR Manager for French Luxury brand Hermes – and like my previous roles in the fashion industry, it involved lending the collection of dresses and accessories out on a daily basis to fashion magazines, shoots, celebrities and journalists.

I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all borrow dresses for just one event, and wear a different designer for every event in our calendar?”

When we looked into the market we saw that no one was doing it. We were the first company to rent luxury fashion online and it is wonderful that Girl Meets Dress is now pioneering the way for rental as a new and exciting e-commerce category of its own.

Girl Meets Dress is a disruptive eCommerce business with a mission to democratize luxury – believing that everybody deserves a Cinderella experience. We provide millions of women the ability to rent designer dresses and accessories for a fraction of the retail price, allowing them to look and feel, beautiful for all of their special occasions.

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HTF: Your role as PR Manager at Hermes must have been an insightful experience, what was the biggest lesson you learnt from those 3 years? 

A: Yes, Hermes was an amazing brand to work for and I learnt so much from my role. One thing that I always remind myself is to make the effort to network. Even though after work you are tired – it is always worth finding the energy to pop into that drinks or event you have been invited to. You never know who you will bump into and many times I have found it is those chance meetings which led to opportunities and bigger things, simply started from saying ‘hi’ to someone at an event.

HTF: So what inspired the move from Hermes? 

A: I knew it was just a matter of time before I started my own business – it was something I had always wanted to do when the right idea came along. Launching a business is always going to have an element of risk, but I believed in the idea, my co-founder Xavier and the market potential.

HTF: Describe a typical day at the GMD HQ.

A: As with anyone running their own business, variety is massive element. On a normal day I will be in the office catching up with emails and working with the team to improve the various areas of the business. Some days I am popping in and out, to meetings with designers, a marketing partner or a supplier, or interviewing a potential new GMD team member! Some weeks are very hectic, if I am speaking at an all day e-commerce event, or attending fashion week (Thank god everything can be managed from a phone!)

HTF: Your work must sometimes be very challenging, what’s the most demanding aspect of your work? 

A: Juggling so many different areas of the business is tricky at first when you don’t have team members managing all the departments. You have to wear so many hats and be very good at delegating. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

HTF: And the most exciting part?

A: The fact that every single day is different, and I’m really proud to be building a company with such a fantastic co-founder and team of people.

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HTF: Do you receive any odd requests from customers? 

A: Sometimes, yes! We had a customer who really REALLY wanted to rent a specific dress – but she lived in Belgium – so because we don’t delivery internationally she came up with a plan for us to deliver to a hotel in London and she would fly to London to collect the dress and then fly back to Belgium with the dress!

HTF: How do you predict what will be popular for each season for GMD? 

A: Our buying team works in the same way as any other retailer. We visit the fashion shows, then choose the dresses we want to buy from the lookbooks the brands send us. We have learnt what the GMD girl loves and always ensure that the collection is fresh and up to date… something for every event!

HTF: Who’s your favourite stylist in the collection at the moment? 

A: We recently launched Nicole Miller, an American designer, and her dresses have been doing extremely well. Fantastic lace mini dresses and evening gowns in classic black, cobalt blue and striking red.

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HTF: What advice would you give to ladies who just don’t know where to begin in the hunt for a dress? 

A: The GMD stylists are on hand through email, phone and live chat to help customers with suggestions for their event. We can make recommendations for specific body types, event dress codes, and budget. We always manage to find the perfect dress for you in the end – there is something for everyone. Remember that you can order and try on up to 3 dresses. We refund for anything unsuitable.

HTF: What about fashionistas styling a dress on a tight budget?…

A: Rent your dresses of course! Then you can spend money instead on the classic pieces which you’ll wear forever! The main item is always the dress though, then the shoes, bag, and jewellery.

HTF: How is your style influenced by your work at GMD?

A: I wear a lot of the Girl Meets Dress dresses to after work events and launches. Everyone always asks my if I am in a GMD dress so it’s lovely to promote the brands and convey the convenience of the company concept.

I think it is really important to live your brand, and I try to wear at least 2 GMD dresses a week. When the team wear our dresses we always take photographs for our Instagram page http://hire.girlmeetsdress.com/pages/girlmeetsdress-latest-from-instagram

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With no excuse not to don a fabulous frock for that special event, head to girlmeetsdress.com and see which style grabs you. Plus, don’t forget to check out the A/W trend finder – we’re LOVING the selection of sleeved dresses available now, especially the chiffon ‘Amee Lou – Eilidh Dress’ – a bargain at £49. So, what are you waiting for??

About Julia Powney