At the heart of every young entrepreneur is a dissatisfaction with the current situation. It always starts with a problem, or a void in the market, followed by an idea how to fix it. For Christine Short and Hannah Levenkron, the two Gen-Y founders of newly launched Suit and Sweet, it started with a series of high-profile business trips to Europe.
Despite having successful careers in the financial world, the pair could not afford to spend hundreds of dollars on high-end, designer work attire. It’s a predicament all young or struggling professionals find themselves in; we complain about wasting money on dowdy office ensembles, but also the inability to find more chic looking pencil skirts from the less-expensive department stores.
And at a time when more women are entering the workforce, with the number of female professionals earning more than their male counterparts continually increasing, there is a real surge in a women’s need for office appropriate clothing.
And of course, this isn't problem with quantity, but rather the quality of outfits that can sustain the level of self-presentation each woman desires.
Enter Suit and Sweet, the Rent-the-Runway-esque business model and brain-child of finance fashionistas, Christine and Hannah. Suit and Sweet is a rental start-up company for professional women that aims to make designer workwear available at a fraction of the retail cost.
“We are our customer,” Hannah explains. “Girls in their twenties who can’t afford that expensive suit – that is us, and that is our friends. We connect well with our customers.”
Indeed, this idea of "women championing women" remains at the core of Suit and Sweet’s mission and values. The entrepreneurs, however, also recognize that clothing alone won’t help a woman land an interview, which is why the site is much more than a wardrobe booster.
Suit and Sweet is a full service that starts with an outfit, but also provides career counseling and relevant tips to bring the level of assistance to a more complete picture.
“We’re not just about clothing and fashion,” says Christine. “Although it’s an important factor, our site pairs it with a stylist that gives you recommendations on how to style the suit and do your makeup and hair.
We also offer career tips. We’ve partnered with career specialists to give advice on preparing for an interview, the things you should focus on, and how to follow-up afterwards.”
Sounds like they've got everything covered-- But, the do-good attitude of women helping women doesn’t stop there! Once the girls receive new shipments, or the lifetime of one of the styles has past, the out-of-season pieces are donated to Bottomless Closet.
This organization helps empower disadvantaged women by providing career apparel, bags, makeup, interview advice, resume improvements and, most of all, support in their new jobs.
“When each customer rents an item from Suit and Sweet, she knows this will help other women who want to secure jobs as well,” explains Hannah. This is why Suit and Sweet is a strictly rentals-only company, without the option to buy your wardrobe (even though we know you’ll want to!).
So how does it all work? Visit Suit and Sweet’s website and browse through their extensive collection of blazers, trousers, pencil skirts and blouses. You can rent each piece separately if you need to fillers to polish of a look, or you can create an entire ensemble – the amount of apparel available to rent is unlimited, but there is a five day maximum to hang on to the items.
For example, you can rent a classic pair of Theory dress pants for $30 for up to five days. The clothes you pick out are then shipped directly to your door.
And forget about having to make a trip to the dry cleaners before returning the goods. Suit and Sweet takes care of all the cleaning, including tightening any loose buttons, making light alterations, and steaming out the wrinkles.
According to Christine, “We are taking care of all the cleaning. We’re sending the clothes to the customer in a box supplied with a return label. All they have to do is mail the items back.” Renting made simple.
Suit and Sweet combines style, affordability and efficiency to make a working woman’s life easier and better.
“Certainly, you are more confident when you look your best,” chimes Hannah.
Agreed: when you look good, you feel good, no matter what setting you're in. So get out there and work it, ladies!
Be sure to check out Suit and Sweet's new site, now up and running.
Photos Courtesy: Suit And Sweet