How perfect would it be to have an ultimate closet where you could pick from trendy designer dresses for any occasion? Sounds too good to be true right? Wrong! The Stylist LA is a designer dress borrowing service founded by Emily McDonald. The aim of the company is to help women of all ages feel confident and beautiful in each and every outfit that they wear.
What was the inspiration for The Stylist LA?
The idea for The Stylist LA came to me when I was a student at USC. I was in a sorority and saw how often girls needed dresses for events. The girls always wanted something new to wear, but didn't want to purchase an expensive dress that they would only wear once. At the same time I was interning at a fashion PR firm and I saw how celebrities basically checked out clothes for events. I started to think it would be really cool (and convenient) if girls could rent from an "ultimate closet" for special occasions.
What's your background and how do you think that's prepared you to be an entrepreneur?
Where to start? I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and knew from a young age that I wanted to have my own company, particularly in fashion. I chose to go to USC because of it's strong entrepreneurship program and it's location. It was either New York or LA for me and ultimately the sunny days and beach won me over. At USC I interned at a fashion PR firm for 2.5 years. It was a great introduction to the fashion industry in LA. After USC I did a post graduate program at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Product Development. There I learned everything from the conception of the idea of a product, to production, to selling it to the end consumer. I believe that every step of my journey has prepared me for what I am doing today. I try and absorb everything I can from each unique situation I am in, whether it is school, work or meeting people in any industry. Everything that I have done on this journey has taught me more about the fashion industry, leadership styles, and ultimately about myself and how I work.
That being said, nothing but being an entrepreneur can fully prepare you for this unique journey. Every day is different, you have to make tough decisions and at the end of the day the performance of your company relies completely on you.
What's your best form of marketing?
Our best form of marketing hands down is word of mouth. We try and give our clients the best possible service that we can. In turn our clients become loyal brand ambassadors for us by spreading the word about us to their friends.
How do you go about selecting merchandise? Knowing what your customers will like, staying ahead of trends, discovering new brands, etc.
It's tough! I stay on top of what is going on in the fashion world by reading fashion magazines and blogs and paying attention to red carpet styles (especially during awards season!) I ask our clients a lot of questions. What do they want to see more of? What are they loving right now? Then I build our selection based on our customer. I look at new lines and think, where will our girl wear this? What is she doing in this piece? What will it cost for her to rent it? We have clients with a variety of styles and personalities, so I think of this when I am placing orders for new dresses.
What's been your biggest challenge? Greatest success?
Our biggest challenge is growing rapidly and maintaining The Stylist LA feel. When our clients shop with us they really feel like they are shopping in their fashionable, best friend's closet. We develop close relationships with our client and when they come to us it is so much more than just renting a dress. We chat about boyfriends, jobs, life updates etc. We are focused on keeping this vibe while we grow and dress many more clients.
Our greatest success...that is a tough question! One of our greatest successes lately would be the launch of our new ecommerce site last August. Launching the new design and increased functionality was very exciting, and now nothing beats watching it grow. We are getting numerous orders daily from all over the country. It is so fun to watch the orders come in and see The Stylist LA spreading the love from coast to coast. It has been so fun to see this company grow and to see how loyal our clients are.
Why do you love what you do?
My favorite thing about what I do is the moment that a girl finds the perfect dress. There is this "aha" moment when a girl feels amazing in the perfect dress. You can feel it. I still get goosebumps when these moments happen. That is the ultimate for me.
So many things. I can't divulge everything but I will say this. Our goal for this year is to spread The Stylist LA experience to many more girls. Our inventory will be growing, our client base will be growing and I can't wait to share more!
Favorite style currently available?
This sequinromper by Karina Grimaldi. The sequins make it dressy while the romper style gives it an effortless feel. I'm romper obsessed. Get ready to see many more in our collection!