Too many work events demanding your most fabulous look? Too little cash to spend on new outfits every time? There’s a Montreal startup for that, and its growing quickly.
Chic Marie, a local venture that rents out savvy women’s business attire for a monthly subscription, is expanding to Toronto. Similar to Frank & Oak, the service offers a $55 plan where women can receive up to nine pieces of clothing delivered to their door per month, which they have to return. A bigger plan costs $95 per month.
These days the startup has a good problem on its hands, according to CEO Marie-Phillipe Simard.
“We decided to expand out of demand. We had a lot of customers who wanted to service in Toronto and we had to wait until we had enough inventory to supply our customers,” Simard told MTLinTECH. “Still, it’s a problem. We want even more inventory to expand further to BC and even the United States.”
To achieve those goals, Simard says the startup is raising a round of funding.
Last time this writer reported on Chic Marie was in the summer of 2014, before the company had pivoted from both men’s and women’s professional attire to just women’s. Simard, a long-time Montreal lawyer, said going to law events meant that she had to look sharp, and that came with added pressure. She wanted to impress. Her idea was to rent out high-end complete options for a big night out: dress, shoes and accessories.
“Everything you need for your night out and it’ll cost you about 10 to 15 per cent of the original price of a high end suit.”
Since then the business has performed quite well, it seems. Between 94 and 96 per cent of its clients are returning every time, and it has seen 30 per cent month-over-month growth over the last seven months.
It’s also racked up a pile of local awards for about $50,000 in total: 1st prize in the Quebec Entrepreneurship National Level Competition; Award winner with Fondation Montréal Inc.; Winner of the McGill Dobson Cup; Chosen as one of the 125 most promising startups in North America at the Collision Conference in Las Vegas; and selected as one of 25 emerging entrepreneurs at the C2-MTL conference.
“It’s really working well,” said Simard. “We launched a year and a half ago in Montreal and we pivoted seven months ago because the company was working well but not well enough to be a bigger brand.”
People are spending too much money on clothing that sits in their closets. According to a survey of 2,000 women conducted by OnePoll Survey, women are spending nearly 200 hours spread over 45 shopping trips for clothes, shoes and window shopping each year. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the average North American woman spends more than $1,700 per year on clothing and accessories for an average of 64 pieces per year. Those same women use just 22 of those pieces on a regular basis.
And from all of that, nearly 60 per cent of a woman’s wardrobe isn’t used on a recurring basis.
There’s one more thing that Simard wanted to add though, revolving around the perception that wearing clothes that have been worn by others isn’t ideal. The only thing the CEO can say it that others have been enjoying Chic Marie’s service.
“Each month we’re getting 94-96 per cent of clients who are coming back to us, so I think once you try the service you’ll really happy with what we’re offering.”