Welcome back to Sparkle Sessions! If you are new to Sparkles & Shoes this is a series I started more than seven years ago which feature interviews with female entrepreneurs from all industries and walks of life. For example, I have interviewed an author, a shoe designer, a prominent chef, the founder of a skincare line, a fashion illustrator, and more! Today I want to introduce you to Sarah Korich, the co-founder of Infinite Closet, a fashion rental service focused on sustainable fashion. I have featured two beautiful dresses from the company here and here and without further ado, my interview with Sarah:
What are five words you would use to describe yourself?
How do those personal characteristics relate to your brand?
I’ve never put my personal characteristics into consideration alongside the brand, but it’s actually pretty spot on! We pride ourselves on being a fun, friendly, and impactful brand. Throw that in with a focus on shopping independent and everything seems to go hand-in-hand!
What inspired you to start Infinite Closet?
I moved to London from NYC two years ago, where I regularly rented clothes. I was shocked when I got here and couldn’t find a similar service. So during my MBA program, I pitched the idea of a clothing rental platform to my Enterprise and Innovation course, and all the women in the course loved the idea. I spoke with the course director who informed me that the university offers sponsorship opportunities to international students who want to begin a business in the UK, and it seemed like an awesome opportunity. As women, we all know the daily struggle to figure out what to wear each day. Despite having a closet full of attire, we still just never feel like we have anything to wear. It’s a struggle among many women, particularly millennial women, who are often out taking photos and don’t necessarily want to be seen in the same clothes twice.
The desire for a variety of attire is visible among women of all ages, especially in the London area. From formal occasions, to work meetings, to nights out with friends, there is a social pressure to constantly keep up with the latest trends. Many women have strict budgets (us included) and can’t necessarily afford buying clothes all the time. We don’t see the practicality in continuously updating our wardrobe with clothes we may only wear once, and don’t think women should waste their money on those items either. It’s a vicious cycle that we want to break!
Shonna Joy Plunge Dress, Delivered (source)
How are you spreading the word about your new company?
Word of mouth and digital marketing are our best friends. We focus a lot on our social media outreach, using mostly organic but some paid channels as well. We’ve also created relationships with influencers who care about fashion and sustainability and am working on creating a full ambassador programme.
The company allows customers to rent your closet with a 4- or 8-day rental period, why these time periods?
Great question! This is just a starting point for us, but from our research, most people are looking to rent for a weekend, or a week. So offering a 4 or 8 day rental gives people just the right amount of time to receive their clothes, try them on and confirm the fit is good, wear it out, and send it back. We’re also working on a monthly subscription model, which will allow you to have more flexible shopping options as well, so stay tuned!
Reformation Juliette Dress worn by customer Shanna Clement (source)
What is one lesson you have had to learn the hard way?
Don’t wait to get started. I tend to be a perfectionist so I often feel a lot of pressure to make sure everything is exactly what I want it to be, but sometimes you just have to let go of a little things and just get yourself and your ideas out there. I think if I had just been more willing to just get started, I’d probably feel like I’ve made it further along in a few particular areas.
How do you go about choosing which dresses to offer? Why is it important to you that pieces be from independent and sustainable brands?
Too often we go to a party and see five other people in our exact same outfit from a high street retailer! So we want to change that. Our goal is to help educate women on the fashion industry and offer more transparency in where to shop. I think a lot of people want to support small businesses and sustainable brands, but often struggle to find the time to do the research into who those brands are. So we want to help customers feel confident that they’re supporting designers in the industry who are creating unique pieces as well as care about people and the planet by producing ethical and sustainable garments. We take the time to do the research, talk to the brands, and understand the people behind the brands. We also love to just support and offer a voice for minority groups who may otherwise struggle to get their brand out there.
What is your favorite piece currently for rent?
I love so many of our pieces but right now I’m just waiting for a good opportunity to wear our AGGI Esme Swirling Pink Pleated Dress. It’s so pretty! And definitely not something I would usually buy for myself — but that’s the beauty of renting. I can force myself out of my comfort zone to try on styles I’d probably never actually buy for myself!
Asher Dress worn by customer Rachel Benson (source)
What makes Infinite Closet different from other rental services?
We’re focused on offering unique pieces and brands you won’t find anywhere else. We love luxury, don’t get us wrong, but that’s generally unaffordable for your normal, everyday shopper. So we aim to offer quality pieces at a reasonable price.
We’ve also worked to ensure our business model is fully circular by not only paying attention to our supply chain, but by taking the end of the lifestyle into account as well. Our zero-emissions delivery partner and dry cleaning partner help us keep a low environmental impact with our pieces, but often the end of the lifestyle is left out of the equation. So it was important for us to ensure all of our clothes have a second chance at life. When the clothes are no longer able to be rented, we will sell the clothes at a discounted price to our customers, with a portion of the proceeds going to a charity partner. Any clothes unable to be sold will be donated to our non-profit partner, GIve Your Best, a company who helps refugee women “shop” their donated inventory. Anything damaged or unable to be worn will be donated to partner fashion schools that will allow the students to use the clothes as materials for their school projects.
Right now you only ship orders within the greater London area, do you have plans to expand nationwide or internationally?
Oh absolutely. But we want to make sure we do so with a sustainable focus. Currently, our zero-emissions delivery partner only works in the London area, which is a good opportunity for us to make sure that we keep sustainability at the forefront of all of our business decisions, as delivery emissions and returns are the least sustainable part of our business model. We’re continuing to research ways to expand our offerings across the UK while continuing to maintain our low-environmental footprint.
Canussa Hybrid Bag (source)
Is there a particular entrepreneur or celebrity you would love to work or collaborate with?
Jameela Jamil — I love her style. She’s a feminist, mental health activist, and a supporter of the LBGTQIA+ community.
Where do you see Infinite Closet in five years?
We have a lot planned over here at IC that we hope to implement into the next 5 years! Our goal is to go beyond creating simply a rental platform, but create an entire closet in the clouds experience. More on that later. 😉
For now, we plan on expanding our services to the rest of the UK, potentially more of Europe (brexit has made this one slightly more difficult but we hope for the best), and to help more people get on board with renting! We hope that our subscription model will further encourage people to move away from buying and feel comfortable renting on a regular basis, including rentals for teens, maternity, and wedding dresses!
Sequins for the Holidays (Source)
What is your favorite quote?
“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” – Coco Chanel
If you had to give advice to other female entrepreneurs, what would you tell them?
Don’t forget about YOU. I’m a workaholic. I can easily spend my entire day and night working and I have to really remind myself to log off, disconnect, and make time for myself and the things I enjoy. We want our businesses to succeed, but it’s really important to make sure you take care of your mental and physical health as well.
Lastly, is there anything you would want to tell my readers?
When it comes to fashion, remember the 3 R’s — Reduce, Rewear, Repair. Renting is just one way to reduce your carbon footprint, but it’s important for us to remember that we should all be working towards the same goal: protecting our planet!
Thank you Sarah for taking the time to speak with me! If you want to learn more about Infinite Closet you can check out their website here, their Instagram account here, or you can pop any questions in the comments and I will connect with Sarah to get you the answers! And get excited, I have two more gorgeous dresses from this company to feature on the blog, one of which you can see a photo of above, on the brand’s Facebook page!