Rebecca Rachmany, CEO, Gangly Sister Productions: Hi I’m Rebecca Rachmany from Gangly sister Productions and I’m here with Fiona so why don’t you introduce yourself.
Fiona Disegni, CEO, Rentez-Vous: Okay , hello I’m Fiona Disegni , I’m the founder of Rentez-Vous which is a peer- to -peer and designer fashion rental market place. We operate in London and Paris and the main idea is to really create an alternative to buy for women to actually change clothes everyday without getting ruined and without over consuming.
Rebecca: Okay so you — I mean it’s fascinating because you talked a little bit about the collaborative consumption trend and how that’s changed — peoples habits are changing around their clothing so?
Fiona: Yes Rentez-vous is really about collaborative consumption so I realised that there is a magic change in consumption today in fashion. The value of the object is not more — anymore in the fact that you own it but more in the fact that you can access to it. So that is really a major change in value for people actually what is important now is really to experience it to get access.
That was the idea so you can actually try something and buy it later on, for the designers it’s a different way for them to open their universe to the designers – to the people.
Rebecca: That makes sense because a lot of times you buy something and you regret it or the opposite, especially when it’s a big expense it makes more sense to try before you buy.
Fiona: Yeah, in a way so the idea it’ s like where buying is more linked to guilt, every time you feel guilt when you buy something. Rental is more freedom because you dare, you can dare to try you can dare to get (it) wrong that’s fine and that’s also the idea of testing and to get access to a different universe or lifestyle.
Rebecca: That’s really exciting, okay so how about you tell us about something you’ve done that turned out to be a surprise, something you though might fail but actually turned out great?
Fiona: So actually we tried for men and that works that was kind of a challenge kind of a risk yeah challenge try, we actually did it with designers we had rentals for men and more and more like we had men interested in the idea.
Rebecca: Fantastic, so what things have you had to change about yourself being an entrepreneur it’s a very different lifestyle to a just a regular working lifestyle?
Fiona: Yeah I think that you just need to accept that you will never know, like what’s going to be tomorrow. That’s really something you need to accept, you need to accept to be like extremely flexible.
Rebecca: How do you deal with those pressure points like this didn’t turn you as planned or you had a failure, how do you deal with things not going right?
Fiona: I think it’s all about like the vision, and the, how can I say, the persistency, the dedication you have and the fact that you want to reach this goal. So no matter how you go, that’s not important in term of short term it’s really about long term and you need to be able to protect yourself and be confident enough to say ‘okay I’m going to go there and I’m going to try to reach it’ and that’s fine there can be different ways to go there.
Rebecca: How do you get that co-founder, and convince them to leave their job? How do you get people on board?
Fiona: Well through the event I’m quite lucky because I have the opportunity to show people how it works and to make them feel about the potential of the project. So I had some people really– like the two girls I have with me in London they really sold the project and they really came to the project and they’re truly passionate with the project and they are truly convinced with the project so that’s amazing. For the technical side this is more challenging you always have to — you have to find the right person you don’t know how to judge them , you don’t have the same criteria that when you see the engagement and the passion of people. So I guess then you need the network is the most important, we need to be surrounded with the right people, people to tell you this is the right match or not.
Rebecca: It’s true I really have that experience. It’s pretty good, how we’re going. Can you talk a little bit about people who have influenced you and inspired you?
Fiona: I have a lot of people I mean actually o find inspiration in everyone; it’s really true of course I found a lot of inspiration in my grandparents. It’s quite interesting because they aren’t entrepreneurs at all– I mean entrepreneurship wasn’t something you were doing then I mean that was so like common the idea about actually creating your own store or shop my grandparents were basically drycleaners
Rebecca: Well drycleaners a shop that’s what entrepreneurship was I opened a shop.
Fiona: Exactly so actually I feel a bigger connection with this generation that actually had to do it by themselves bigger than my parents for instance more in a way like they’d been in big companies. So it’s really like actually you find more — connection in mind with like the older generation were the entrepreneurs and the middle generations like not really
Rebecca: What’s one of the most inappropriate things that somebody has asked you?
Fiona: Do you rent underwear?
Rebecca: Do you rent underwear [crosstalk]
Fiona: So yeah that’s something
Rebecca: Do you rent underwear?
Fiona: No [laughs] [crosstalk] no I don’t, hopefully– no I’m not sure it will work. No we absolutely don’t do that, but people ask more to make fun of it, it’s mor e like men jokes in a way actually. But I got it on TV actually, it was quite funny.
Rebecca: It’s good publicity
Fiona: Yeah and people can’t help thinking about it. [laughter] funny anyway.
Fiona: What’s something I have tried I will never try again?
Fiona: I’m also thinking about food and things like that, like chicken feet that’s something I tried
Rebecca: Chicken feet?
Rebecca: You wouldn’t try that
Fiona: That’s something I tried and will never try again when I was in Singapore
Rebecca: So is there – so – that makes sense, so have you gotten ever bad advice what kind of bad advice have you gotten?
Fiona: The worst bad advice was stop, yes because you will always have a lot of people telling you should go back to the rational side of your life, you should go and find work , you know, you just graduated and you have good diplomas and so on you can really find a good work. I think that you should avoid, if you’re really convinced you, if you really want to try something, like just try it because you should avoid like listen(ing) (to) these people, it won’t make you move forward it will just make you think and try to avoid — because like of course they could be right they are right in a way to feel like okay it’s true — it would be normal way to go on. So why not sometimes your heart is completely irrational if you start going and trying to balance things , the rational and the irrational of course you will go for the rational so don’t listen to them that’s easier and yeah, don’t stop if you don’t want to.
With the economic crisis and so on it’s so hard to find a job as well, so people recognise as well the value of having one. But if you can create yours, it’s true that it is a luxury, because you have your own business and you can do whatever you want.
Rebecca: What inspired you t become an entrepreneur?
Fiona: I think I didn’t — I wasn’t educated to be an entrepreneur I think I always had that in my, how can I say — in my core, in my essence in a way because I always organised events tried to make people gather and things like that. I think it’s just something that just naturally came up like this project I thought about it two years ago when I was in Singapore, changing clothes people make every time and like re-realising the thing that if you need something, you want something now and you don’t want it in your wardrobe like keeping it, especially when you travel you realise you don’t need all these things with you. So I think it came up this way and then, I realised to what extent I like to share with people, meeting different people, getting insight getting — trying to build a project from scratch and really from a community. So I did it in my own way I know a lot of people don’t do it this way. Like I really try from scratch with these people like talking to them I will never give like flyers this way.
Rebecca: So what would you advise to someone who has an idea and thinking about a start-up what’s the first thing they should try or do or..?
Fiona: I will say they have to do as much as they can with their — with no budget with their own means I think it’s really about creativity, it’s really about — find different ways , find unusual way, unexpected way to get inside to try things. It could be very simple it could be from the blog, it could be from just an event and try to gather people around you and see if there is any support or not. I don’t think there is any like on-line directly or getting like a lot of means for something you didn’t try you didn’t test it first. I really think that you should try and — a valuable business will be already valuable with nothing or little.
Rebecca: I’m not sure what question I want to ask you but maybe you could say something about like you said I won’t give out a flyer or just text somebody, talk about the — that personal communication?
Fiona: Yeah I think that communication is something really at the core of my vision, of my values as well and I think it’s something that I really want to reflect with Rentez-Vous. Rentez-vous is really about Rendezvous it’s really about meeting people and what I — the challenge I get – the idea was to make it to convey stories and share — sharing anecdotes or like moments through clothes. Through very meaning- like without meaning things you know like they could appear more or less useless, it’s just clothes they don’t have any life like — what I want to say is like behind clothes you always have an owner, you always have someone and the idea is to use them as a way to connect with people.
Fiona: I had, I had — I had one girl she was telling me of New Years Eve she was — she lost her suitcase in the airport so she had nothing to wear and so she had to find like something and she found this skirt actually. So that was really the skirt of her holidays
Rebecca: It was all she had.
Rebecca: Good so we’re pretending to give everybody a present the present we’re pretending to give is one extra hour. If you had one extra hour today what would you do?
Fiona: I think I would just enjoy my surroundings, for sure, will try to spend more time actually disconnect to get more inspiration and take the time to– because I think when you run a business you are very focused on it , and because you are so passionate you are really in to it and it’s very hard to disconnect. So I think the most luxurious thing for an entrepreneur is to disconnect and yeah I think I would disconnect one hour; that’s it not more.