I have never been a bridesmaid, but I imagine it’s quite an honor – plus, mimosas don’t suck. I’m not sure where she stands on mimosas, but as far as being a bridesmaid goes, Kelsey Doorey considers it (and appropriately so) an expensive honor. So, she shook things up and launched Vow to be Chic, a designer dress rental service, to help those blushing bridesmaids (and brides!) save some money, sanity and closet space. Seriously, what’s not to love? I have a sneaky feeling she may have revolutionized the bridesmaid experience, making it so much easier and of course, so very chic.
NAME Kelsey Doorey
LOCATION Santa Monica, California
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Columbia University BA; UCLA Anderson MBA
COMPANY Vow To Be Chic
Tell me a little bit about Vow to be Chic & what inspired such a genius idea. I have been a bridesmaid six times, so I know how expensive and time-consuming the process is – I refer to it as an expensive honor. Traditionally, the process includes making salon appointments, driving around to boutiques and tailors, paying $300 for the dress, and then an additional $100 for alterations. All for a dress you’ll never wear again! Guys have been renting tuxes for weddings forever – I asked myself why aren’t women enjoying the same concept?
Once you had the idea, what happened next? How long did it take before everything came together and you officially launched the website? I had the idea for Vow when I started business school at UCLA Anderson in 2011, and develop the idea in depth while there. On a whim, I entered the school’s business plan competition, won funding on the spot, and founded the business soon after I graduated in 2013. We started working with brides while in beta – the demand was more than we expected! We officially launched in May 2014, and have been growing ever since.
As you well know, there are a lot of things to tackle before launching a business. How did you learn the ins and outs of running your own company? My greatest learnings came from my previous experience and discovering first hand what works and what doesn’t. I also love getting advice from advisors and fellow entrepreneurs in my network and from business school.
How did you gain exposure when you first started out? How have you approached marketing since? We’ve had great press, (thankfully!) which initially drove customers to our site. Referrals from our happy brides have also been extremely valuable. We have a customer care team that is dedicated to giving every bride and bridesmaid an exceptional experience that they are excited to share. Our digital marketing initiatives, including social media, have been successful in building brand awareness with potential customers as well as influencers in the industry.
You have curated quite a stunning collection of dresses. Tell me a bit about how you selected the different silhouettes and designers. We focus on carrying high-end designers that the bride deserves at a price that the bridesmaids will love. We make sure to select a variety of styles that will work for different wedding styles. Mixing and matching is very popular at the moment, and we pick dresses from multiple designers that complement each other. As for the little white dresses, we made sure to carry dresses that could work for all of the bride’s wedding- related events, including the engagement shoot, bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, reception, and many more.
I would imagine things get quite busy at your office! What does a day in the life of the Vow to be Chic crew look like? Everyday is completely different! Each team covers their scope of work, but one thing that’s consistent for everyone is our afternoon candy fix. We can’t work without it!
It must be such an honor to stylishly outfit countless brides & bridesmaids for occasions leading up to and including the big day. What has been your biggest thrill since launching your company? The biggest thrill is hearing from our happy brides and bridesmaids. We love hearing how we made the processes easier for the bridesmaids, or how the bride felt amazing in her reception dress. We are honored to be part of the wedding, and always enjoy hearing about the big day.
What one pearl of wisdom would you share with those considering starting their own business? As an entrepreneur you’ll be pulled in a million directions, so it’s easy to get distracted. Remind yourself and your employees of the bigger picture and what’s really important to the company.
Guilty pleasure? Sleeping in.
Wedding playlist must-have? Beyoncé.
Spirit animal? My puppy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Cronuts or donuts? Cronuts! We have them in the office all the time. Cronuts with Nutella inside are my favorite.
Ultimate Sunday Funday? A beach day with plenty of good surfing.