At just 17, Briella Brown founded online designer dress hire business Your Closet after being invited to three formals in one year and not being able to afford to buy a new gown for each event. The business premise is simple: browse the site and find a designer dress you’d like to wear then have it shipped to you between 1-2 business days. After wearing it simply pop it in the pre-supplied postal satchel to return it and Your Closet will look after the dry cleaning. The rental price starts from as little as $90 so it’s a fraction of the cost of buying a brand new dress. Your Closet is ideal for weddings, the races or even a girls’ night out so you can be guaranteed to look your best without having to spend a small fortune. Here I speak to Brown about founding her business, her favourite pieces and growing her business…
Why did you start Your Closet?
I started Your Closet from a personal desire for the ability to rent my dream dress for a formal I was attending at the time. It didn’t make much sense to spend so much money on a dress which would only be worn once and the idea evolved from there. Since initial conception Your Closet has grown to be a lot more than a cost effective solution but rather a more convenient option for women who would rather have flexible wardrobe options, super fast delivery and easy returns.
What is most challenging about working for yourself?
As the business is still in its early stages, it requires many hours which I love doing. I have found it tricky establishing a work-life balance but am slowly learning to strike more of a balance.
Where do you see the business in three years?
In three years renting for all occasions will be a normal process, I think Your Closet will be a wardrobe staple for all events when you want to look your best – whether that be renting a Camilla and Marc blazer for a job interview or a whimsical Thurley gown for a bridesmaid dress. We are also looking to improve our shipping making it even faster, we currently offer a three-hour shipping window within Sydney but are exploring how we can get this under the hour within Sydney and Melbourne. With an estimated 10,000 dresses available in the next three years we will well and truly be an endless closet option for Australian women.
Which seasonal trends are you most excited about for the next spring/summer season?
I’m really excited for lace this season! We have some incredible, bright lacy midis [dresses] arriving soon in particular a bright yellow sheer lace dress by Thurley. This was recently worn by Isabel Lucas and we have already received so many requests to rent. Lace has evolved from a fine, intricate material to a more bold and often floral material in bright colours. Another trend I am really happy about is the rise of the off-the-shoulder style, which will be featured in collections by Nicholas, Thurley and Camilla and Marc. It is so flattering to all body shapes and is something a little bit different.
What are your best styling tips for the races?
There has been a big trend in terms of millinery away from the traditional fascinator and towards more fashion-forward crowns. We recently released a collection of incredible laser-cut leather crowns by Danica Erard and leather floral crowns by Natalie Bicicki – these are really easy to pair with our current dress range. Fascinators can be a little more involved whereas a chic dress paired with a unique crown will always be in style come race day. I think the Spring Carnival is a time to have fun with fashion and is one of the best times each year to get dressed up. The only must is comfy shoes as race days are often very long and the no-shoes look isn’t the best.
What is your favourite piece from your collection?
My favourite piece is always changing with all of our new dresses constantly arriving each week however my dream item is definitely the ‘Saki Drape Jumpsuit’ by Camilla and Marc. It has a spotted velvety top, palazzo pants and best of all pockets. This will look uber cool come race day, as it’s different and a little funky – definitely a crowd pleaser!
Why did you decide to expand your business?
Most of our growth has naturally evolved through customer feedback. An example of this has been a request for a more inclusive dress size range which is why we now stock sizes six through to 18. Customers want more of a one-stop shop, so this has prompted diversification into accessories. The business has been growing faster than I ever thought possible which has been really exciting as my vision is coming to life to develop a curated collection from Australia’s premier designers available in a convenient and smart way and revolutionise the way women approach their wardrobe.
What advice would you give to someone else considering starting their own business?
I’m still learning a lot myself but I would say just got for it! It sounds cliche but I think if you have an innovative idea then you need to give it a go otherwise you will be wondering ‘what if’ and with Wix and other website building platforms it can be really cost effective to set up a [site] and see how customers respond without spending a lot of time and money.
Who do you look up to?
Three women I look up to are Julie Stevanja from Stylerunner, Emily Weiss from Glossier and Alyce Tran from The Daily Edited. Julie has built such an incredible business and had the foresight to see the trend toward athleisure wear and Emily has built an incredible community who swoon over her [beauty] products – she had a waitlist, 60,ooo people strong for for her iconic ‘Boy Brow’ once it sold out. Alyce has an amazing social media presence and I love her flatlays – they are a work of art!
What is the most rewarding part about being the founder of Your Closet?
The most rewarding part is hearing feedback from our customers who have had a really wonderful experience. I love opening our return parcels and finding little handwritten notes saying how amazing they felt and all of the compliments they received.