When Lona Alia Duncan was just 16 years old, she started modelling in Albania.
She led a glamorous life, filled with runway shows and photo shoots for companies like Versace and Guess.
A few years after college, Duncan put her modelling career aside and started working at software company Eyemaginations, a startup focused on educating patients about their health.
Duncan eventually left to study business at George Washington University so that she could pursue entrepreneurship.
About a year and a half ago, Duncan came up with the idea of Style Lend while travelling in Paris. She thought it would be cool if she could borrow clothes from a stylish Parisian, as opposed to lugging around a massive bag of her own clothes, Duncan tells Business Insider.
Enter Style Lend, a peer-to-peer marketplace for lending and renting designer dresses. It’s the Airbnb of clothes, basically: As a lender, you have two options: Do-it-yourself (DIY) or Concierge. With the DIY option, lenders list their dresses, meet with the borrowers, and take care of all the cleaning. In turn, the DIY lenders get 70% of the rental price. With the Concierge option, StyleLend takes care of it all, from picking up the dresses, listing them, delivering them, and dry cleaning them. In turn, lenders keep 50% of the rental price.
Right now, Duncan is in the current batch of Y Combinator companies, which is arguably the most prestigious incubator of new businesses in Silicon Valley. The demo day is next month, when the company officially launches.
“I’ve been running on five hours of sleep for last three months, but it’s worth it,” Duncan says.
Week over week, Style Lend has seen its revenue grow 10%, Duncan says.
The service is currently only available in San Francisco, but hopes to launch in New York in the next couple of months.