One to One with Anna Bance

One to One with Anna Bance
Enterprise Nation
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Posted: Tue 26th Aug 2014

With a background in fashion and a business partner with digital nous, Anna Bance (@AnnaBance_GMD) started online dress lending site, in 2009. She's determined to give women access to the largest closet in the world and it's thanks to the web this is possible.


Company Name: Girl Meets

Year founded: 2009

Do you have a business partner? If so, who does what?

Xavier de Lecaros-Aquise is my founding partner. My background had been in Fashion since leaving University, and before launching Girl Meets Dress, Xavier was leading the UK digital media efforts for an Investment bank. Finding a Co-Founder with a different skill sets to you is a brilliant way to launch without needing to hire a full team on day one. If you can split the main areas of the business between you, then you can launch with minimal cost and test the market - which is the first step to seeing if there is demand."¨

From where do you run the business?

An office in Tech City"¨

What inspired you to start the business?

The Girl Meets Dress story began in 2009 when I was working as UK PR Manager for French Luxury brand Hermes. Like my previous roles in the fashion industry, it involved lending the collection of dresses and accessories out on a daily basis to fashion magazines, shoots, celebrities and journalists so I thought to myself it would be amazing if we could all borrow dresses for just one event, and wear a different designer for every event in our calendar. When my co-founder Xavier and I looked into the market we saw that no one was doing it, and so Girl Meets Dress was born.

Has being online enabled you to enter new (and international) markets?

Yes definitely. Dress hire has been around for years but never in an online format, until now. We were the first company to rent luxury fashion online and it is wonderful that Girl Meets Dress is now pioneering the way for rental as a new and exciting ecommerce category of its own. The retail market and consumer habits are changing significantly, both in terms of expectations but also in terms of value. The growth in online rental highlights consumers growing preference for experience over ownership, allowing women to wear more relevant, trend led, time-sensitive fashions, while continuing to invest only in those classic pieces which will stand the test of time. It is a new market which the fashion industry has been unable to provide for until now."¨

Please share your three top tips for online success:

"¨1. Although not 100% necessary, I recommend choosing an area that you know something about. There are exciting ways to pioneer every market, whichever field you love. Of course, you can learn about any new topic - but will you be able to compete with people with years of knowledge and expertise.

2. When launching a new company, one of the most important and impactful skills to have is the ability to promote and market the product and brand to get that all important traffic through the doors. PR for us was a huge element in growing the awareness of Girl Meets Dress so I couldn't have wished for a more suitable previous career.

3. Don't over think it. There will never be a perfect time to leave your secure job, risk your salary decrease, take a chance on an idea which might not work - but what's the worst that can happen? You'll go back to your previous role until you come up with the next idea!

What's next for Girl Meets Dress?

We have ambitious and exciting plans for the year ahead. We want to continue to grow the collection of stock, the team, and to innovate within the wider Fashion space.

We plan to forge a brand and quality of service which women will wonder how they managed without, giving women access to the biggest closet in the world!

Go and Grow Online is a 12 month campaign to encourage more small businesses to go online and support existing online traders to grow. The campaign is supported by BT Business, Microsoft and Verisign.

Anna is taking part in the Go and Grow Online Summit on 1st October, which you can find out more about here.

Read more One to Ones:

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