Semmy Levit is CEO of My Secret Dressing Room, a sharing ladies fashion service launching in London.
MYSDROOM, as it’s been abbreviated for the Twitter generation, is already making waves in Milan and Paris, and the concept has been picked up by the fashion and lifestyle supplements of the UK media. Luc Floreani discuss the concept with the entrepreneur.
Why did you start?
My business partner and I embrace the concept of shared economy – and extending this to the fashion arena. Fashion allows women to embrace what they’re feeling in a mood or moment. My Secret Dressing Room provides invaluable service that provides access to pieces which ordinarily be just beyond budget.
wear them very few times
We wanted to offer a fashion service that provides a fashion experience and is cost effective. The customer can choose whatever they want and return it, having enjoyed their own unique wardrobe adventure.
Our research showed that women buy clothes, but wear them very few times. The more expensive and sensational the purchase, the less likely they were to wear it again because it had made its ‘debut’ impact.
This product knowledge allowed us to identify the potential offered by the ‘virtual wardrobe’ of My Secret Dressing Room, as being an essential of ‘sharing’ fashion tool for our community of ladies.
Do you come from a fashion background?
My business partner and I don’t come from fashion background, we came from the information technology industry. We knew we had the technology to make this fashion creative concept work.
We conducted mixed research focus groups of women, both SecretStylists (clients who own dresses) and SecretFans (clients who hire dresses) to see if they would both embrace the concept. We wanted to identify the ideal experience they wanted from the service – logistically and emotionally. Also what they wanted to know about the stylist/owner of the dress.
What did they want to know about the service?
Our ladies wanted to know about size, quality of the product, the cut, the fabric and most importantly, the rating of the dress. They didn’t want to know who, why, what, owns the dress. It was the reputation rating of the owner.
SecretStylist and SecretFan both rate each other after their experience of using the service, rating on how it was received and presented; so the reputation and trust between ladies is continually revaluated. This feedback provides new clients with instant confidence in the community rating system.
Was the idea always to take the business global?
The idea was always to make it global. With a startup you must always have vision and ambition… and money. Money makes all things possible.
Will My Secret Dressing Room rival the current fashion industry?
We will change the way of living fashion. There has always been one way to keep up with fashion: to buy. Now we have a way of sharing current fashion. We believe we drive a new way of living shared fashion.
How will this affect things?
We’re enabling our clients to use fashion pieces that are just lying redundant in wardrobes, to become ethical advocates of using resources that already exist, again and again. In turn, this creates work for local businesses – drycleaners, drivers, photographers, etc.
In the current climate, saving money is more important then ever. Rather than wasting and burning resources, we are promoting a sharing economy. To run a car uses a lot of resources. If you share costs and carpool you receive all the benefits, but share costs, making it affordable for everyone in the carpool. It is that shared economy concept and service we provide, from a fashion perspective.
When did you know you had a great business idea?
We interviewed a lot of wonderful women and enjoyed all their opinions about our concept. They were enthusiastic and incredibly passionate about how best to service the gap in the fashion industry we had identified.
So are you there yet?
No we are not quite there yet, but we are excited about getting there.
Have you done many startup businesses before?
No this is my first startup and I’m loving the challenge. Business is always the same. When it’s your own business, you have to do everything. If you want it to be perfect you have to dream it and then make it happen.
My Secret Dressing Room is inspirational, we found women will often say ‘I shouldn’t spend’ or ‘I won’t spend’ because it’s too extravagant. MYSDROOM.COM grants them the ability to fulfill their fashion wishes.
When did the idea come to you?
There is not a precise moment even if, on November 12th I was in a very expensive shop and saw the most fantastic suit. It was way too expensive, and so I waited for the sale. I would happily pay 10% to wear it on a special occasion, but I also wouldn’t mind lending it to someone else to enjoy it. After a few months, talking with my business partner about the sharing economy, the idea as it is today started to take shapeMy Secret Dressing Room