Vivrelle's Blake Geffen is changing the fashion rental market one Gucci bag at a time
Living in a world where the newest Gucci bag is considered 'old' the second Alessandro Michele debuts a new collection, millennial shoppers are creating a shift in the way we view and consume luxury.
Whether or not this stems from social media and the influx of influencers and fashion bloggers, 28-year old Blake Geffen has the solution.
Just one year ago, Blake and her then-fiancé Wayne Geffen dreamt up the idea for a membership club, called Vivrelle, which grants access to coveted designer handbags, jewelry, watches and diamonds for an affordable price tag starting at just $99. Think: Rent The Runway but for accessories.
In the short time span, the company has racked up over 10 thousand Instagram followers and has secured partnerships with Bumble and SLS Hotels. Vivrelle's designer catalog ranges from Chanel to Cartier and Van Cleef, and even allows its members to purchase these high-end items at exclusive members-only discounted prices.
In an exclusive interview, Blake opened up about the challenges and strategies of a fashion start up, the importance of influencer marketing and how she balances running a company with her husband.
Where did the idea for Vivrelle come from?
While planning our wedding, I was on the hunt for the perfect accessories to wear throughout the weekend, but didn’t want to break the bank. I realized there was a gap in the market – there wasn’t an upscale experience as well as a one-stop shop to borrow the luxury accessories I was looking for without burning through my savings! While on our honeymoon, my husband and I put together a business plan. When we got back to the city, we hit the ground running and launched Vivrelle just nine months later in September of 2018.
What was your career background before starting Vivrelle?
I was a fashion publicist! I worked at LaForce on the fashion and retail team for seven amazing years.
There are leading companies when it comes to dress rentals, but not so much in the accessory department. How is Vivrelle changing women's relationship with their closet?
For Vivrelle members, our closet is their closet. By making luxury accessories accessible, we want women to feel like Vivrelle is an extension of their everyday wardrobe.
Do you think that social media, in terms of documenting outfits in photos and instant gratification, has played a part in the rental business industry?
Our members love experiencing, trying and swapping their items each month, which we believe is heightened thanks to Instagram and social media. While the platform doesn’t so much enforce instant gratification, it does provide an outlet to introduce and explore new styles and trends that our members follow and get excited to experience through their membership.
What has been your biggest challenge along the way, especially running a start up?
Starting a business is no easy task, but it’s been so exciting to see Vivrelle’s success thus far. We’re thrilled to have grown so quickly in less than a year – keeping up with it was daunting at first, but now I know there is nothing we can’t handle (even working with my husband 24/7)
You work alongside and run a company with your husband. Can you tell me a little bit about your roles and how you both balance this?
We’ve worked really hard to make sure we have clear and distinct roles and responsibilities that play to each of our strengths, so as to not step on each other’s toes. Wayne comes from a finance background and thinks very big picture, whereas I am more granular and focus on day-to-day operations.
Influencer marketing plays a big role in your business. Why is tapping into this kind of marketing important?
Influencer marketing is so important to us because our members really look to influencers as lifestyle leaders. In working with these influential women, it enables us to contextualize the luxury bags, jewelry and diamonds we offer, thus giving our members an opportunity to step into the aspirational lifestyles they follow. Also, one of the key features of a Vivrelle membership is that we offer the opportunity to borrow from some of your favorite influencers’ closets, including "Real Housewife of New York City" alum Jill Zarin and her boss babe daughter Ally Shapiro, power sisters Sophie and Charlotte Bickley of @Yin2MyYang, among many others. We believe that when you borrow a luxury accessory, you’re not just receiving a handbag – you’re receiving an experience and working with influencers really brings that experiential aspect to life.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who’d like to follow in your footsteps?
If you have a great idea – believe in it and pursue it! Don’t let someone else get to it first.
Best career advice you've ever received?
Don’t get caught up in the small stuff – just keep moving forward!
Where do you hope to see Vivrelle in five years?
Our goal is to have our closet become everyone’s closet!
Check out Vivrelle here and become a member starting at just $99 up to $279 per month.