This 21-year-old pitched her startup on Shark Tank, but it wasn't the deal that made her business a success

Photo: Briella Brown.

Briella Brown was just your average year 12 student when she stumbled across her business plan.

At the time, she was attending her own and other school formals when she noticed an interesting pattern.

Girls wouldn’t repeat an outfit to a different event, and in the end they would either fork out hundreds of dollars on a new dress, or simply swap with a friend.

“With all the photos on social media, they didn’t feel comfortable wearing it again,” she says.

Brown saw this as a golden opportunity.

“I thought, how it could be applied to other events where you want to look great but don’t want to wear the same dress again?”

Your Closet was born.

Brown launched the dress renting website two years ago and recently appeared on Shark Tank.

It was this opportunity that changed the game for her business, not because of the $80,000 investment for a 30% stake she received but because of the exposure.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard of this happening. Co-founder of Disrupt Sports, Gary Elphick openly admitted he went on the show for advertising, not to take a deal.

The exposure Brown’s business got translated into an overwhelming amount of feedback on social media.

Your Closet. Photo: Sarah Kimmorley.

“People were asking why we didn’t have larger sizes and it was difficult because a lot of the designers that we stock don’t carry sizes 16, 18 and 20.

“So we had to look at some other options available with both Australian and international designers.

“No one in Australia really caters to this market.”

She said this opened up a whole new customer base for the business.

“Those requesting the sizes were new customers who hadn’t signed up previously because we had limited sizes. They were urging us: ‘Great concept, we can’t use it but we’d love bigger sizes.’”

She says without that time on Shark Tank, and the exposure it gave the brand, there is no way she would have thought about extending the range.

“People came out of the woodwork to make the point to tell us they wanted larger sizes. And I’m really glad they did because I didn’t realise how important it was.”

She said this new angle for Your Closet also gives it leverage against the other similar businesses on the local market already.

While most retailers only stock sizes 6-14, Your Closest now holds dress in sizes up to 20.

“We have designers which are exclusive to us, as well as exclusive agreements with some of our designers that we are the only business in Australia that will stock these dresses.”

Also after the feedback, Brown opened an office with the intention to turn it into a full-fledged showroom.

“At the moment it’s more of our warehouse/ office, but eventually we want women to be able to make appointments to come and try the dresses on.”

Your Closet showroom. Photo: Sarah Kimmorley.

“It’s open from 9am to 7pm because we understand that a lot of our customers are corporate women,” she said.

Customers can then either take the dress on the spot or go home and order it online and have it delivered within three hours if they are in Sydney.

The final terms of Brown’s Shark Tank deal, split between Boost founder Janine Allis and Red Balloon founder Naomi Simson, are still be discussed, but Brown says the brand awareness from the show has been phenomenal.

In the three months prior to the pitch Your Closet made $36,000 in revenue a month. Since then traffic to the site has been constantly triple and membership has increased by 30%.

With the changes and growth Brown says it’s a good sign for the startup.

“The business is really dynamic at the moment which I’m really excited about,” she said.

“We’re all about trying lots of new things. The business today is so different to what it would be a year ago and I’m sure a year from now it will look even more different.

“I have a strong vision of what I want the business to be but ultimately business works on supply and demand, so I’ll always cater the business towards that. We’re heavily influenced by what women are telling us. I have a strong vision but who knows what it will look like in the future.”

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