JENNIFER SIMONS
Jennifer Simons (COL ’18, pictured) beta launched her women’s clothing startup, Dressmate, at Georgetown this year.

Dressmate, a women’s clothing rental network founded by Georgetown alumna Jennifer Simons (COL ’18), plans to officially launch its program at Georgetown University and expand to at least eight other college campuses in and around Washington, D.C. and New York City this year after a beta launch at Georgetown in 2018.

The company was created by Christine Yang (SFS ’18) and Simons during their sophomore year, and allows students to rent clothes from other students on their campus. Users advertise their own clothes on the site and set their own prices, and others can then select the item they want to rent for a period of time and meet up with the owner to retrieve the item.

By March 2017, the idea for Dressmate had matured into a Facebook group with payments managed via a Venmo account. Yang decided to leave the startup after she and Simons graduated from Georgetown, leaving Simons in full control of Dressmate. By March 2018, Simons launched a Dressmate beta on Georgetown’s campus after participating in a StartupHoyas Summer Launch Program. At that time, the company had around 200 users at Georgetown, according to Simons.

“Those numbers, I think when I first tell people, they sound kind of small because Georgetown’s campus is really big,” Simons said. “But in terms of percentages for not really having a marketing budget and just going for organic growth. […] It’s very good.”

Dressmate plans to expand further this year to Columbia University, University of Maryland, College Park, American University, Barnard College, Howard University, The George Washington University, New York University, Pratt Institute and potentially also the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design, according to Simons. Simons also hopes to revamp the Georgetown program to attract more customers in the area.

“I’m actually coming back to D.C. to kind of garner up some more interest from Georgetown,” Simons said.

Simons enlisted Jessica Frankovich, a Dressmate community member and founder of a local vintage clothing store Phoenix Supply, to develop vintage Georgetown gear to rent on the site.

“I really love Dressmate’s rental model. I’ve heard of services like that for high-end pieces like prom dresses, but I never would have thought to offer rentals for streetwear and other styles of clothing,” Frankovich wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I also love that the app is for students, by students, and that it promotes community on campus by requiring students to manage the execution of the rental.”

Simons also experimented with applying Dressmate in a corporate environment this summer, with a beta test at makeup company Glossier’s headquarters in New York. Simons hopes to expand to around 100 college campuses first, but after that would like to move into corporate spaces and other communities.

The person-to-person contact within these communities sets Dressmate apart from competitors in the clothing rental space, Simons said.

“Let’s say you’re using Style Lend and you rent out a dress to someone in California,” Simons said. “The net result for that person is still a cardboard box at the door.”

Joy Farrington (SFS ’18), who used Dressmate during its beta last spring to rent a dress for the annual School of Foreign Service Diplomatic Ball, said the in-person rental was a valuable part of the business.

“I rented a beautiful green dress for Dip Ball probably only a few days before the ball. That was the first and last time I got something from them but only because I discovered it so late in the game!” Farrington said in an email to The Hoya. “If I had discovered it earlier during my time at Georgetown I would have definitely used the services more, recommended to friends, or even rented some of my own clothes out.”

If Dressmate’s expansion into college and corporate communities is successful, Simons says she aspires to do a city-wide launch in the future. Right now, she is in New York City working with the Xessentials Accelerator and Monarq Incubator, incubators devoted to female entrepreneurs, before raising capital for Dressmate’s expansion later this year.

“Long-term, I really do, I think it’s possible to do it in a city,” Simons said. “Especially now that I’ve graduated, and I don’t have the option to use it anymore, I kind of miss being a part of it.”

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One Comment

  1. Rental clothing is a very creative idea!

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