At Status Dress Rentals, looking fabulous has never been easier and more economical.
Status Dress Rentals is an online platform where users can browse a large selection of dresses by size, occasion or colour. Once you have chosen the perfect dress, simply add to your cart, choose a time-frame in which you would like to keep the dress, the date you wish to receive it and then checkout!
The company, Owner Stephanie Owen explains, was founded on principles of convenience, innovation and affordability.
“In 2018, I had a few events to attend,” Stephanie states. “So, I needed a different formal dress for all of them. (As you may know, women don’t like to be seen in the same dress at multiple different venues.) But at the same time, dress and bridal stores around Chatham started closing down. In order to find a good dress, I needed to drive over an hour and spend over $300.”
Dismayed by her predicament, Stephanie arrived at a novel solution. What if, instead of being forced to purchase a dress—just to wear it once—she had the option of renting?
“I got my business license in December 2018,” Stephanie recalls. “I spent 2019 gathering inventory and developing my website. And then, I slowly started opening a storefront in Chatham to introduce the concept.”
Status Dress Rentals, like many other companies, has pivoted into a completely online service model
Despite her initial plans, Status Dress Rentals has quickly expanded beyond the borders of Chatham-Kent. Due to her community’s small size and the worldwide pandemic, Status Dress Rentals, like many other companies, has pivoted into a completely online service model.
“Stephanie has done a great job at launching her business with a digital core” states Adam Castle, Director of Venture Services for WEtech Alliance. “It provides Status Dress Rentals with the ability to navigate these new economic waters with a lot more adaptability than they would have otherwise had.”
Castle said the strength of a business model, comes from its ability to be repeatable at scale. “When we coach clients like Status Dress Rentals, the question becomes what systems are needed to ensure that quality and customer service is the same when they’re shipping their first dress, and their thousandth. Once we identify what it takes to create a healthy model, we fill in the gaps from there.”
Status Dress Rentals currently has a selection of over 200 dresses, available for a 4 or 9 day rental. The company offers Canada-wide delivery, with the return shipping covered.
“When I started, I decided that my market was going to be everybody in the Canada,” Stephanie states. “I wanted dresses for all different body sizes. We have over 250 dresses for everything! Maternity photoshoots. Engagement photoshoots. Galas. Fundraising parties. Awards ceremonies. All different kinds of events. We had to halt a little bit during COVID, but we don’t plan on being halted for very long.”
Thus far, the new business models have been met with unanimous approval.
“I’m working with some influencers,” Stephanie states. “I’m sending dresses to British Columbia and Halifax and Brampton for photoshoots. I’m getting great feedback!”
And despite the hurdle of not being able to try on a dress in person, Stephanie is working on finding better ways to accommodate her clients, including providing more comprehensive descriptions and a video catalog.
“We’re trying to find ways to make the website even better,” Stephanie explains. “That way, when a customer wants to try on a dress they can see what it looks like. That’s my big focus for the next couple of months.”
Although Stephanie has transitioned from local to global thanks to the digital space, she credits Chatham with helping keep her business afloat.
“Chatham has numerous advantages,” Stephanie states. “Affording a rental space is much easier. We have a great group of influencers around here that have helped me grow. And there’s a lot of female entrepreneurs in the area that have been really helpful, that I’ve been able to learn from.”
“It’s a huge undertaking, a huge dream,” Stephanie states. “But, why not have a huge dream?”
Michael Seguin was born with a pen in his hands and too many words floating around his skull. Since then, he’s worked tirelessly to get them out. Unfortunately, more keep taking their place. After university, he began dabbling in marketing and journalism. At the age of 26, he became the first in-house writer at Windsor Life Magazine, an esteemed local publication. As the newest member of the WEtech Alliance team, Michael is dedicated to lending a voice to the tech sector around Windsor and Chatham-Kent.