Jennifer Burrell was cleaning out her closet one day when she noticed that she had several dresses that were still in perfectly good condition as they had only been worn once. This included her wedding dress, cocktail dresses, and pageant dresses. She figured there had to be a way for women to look great for all the special events in their lives without breaking the bank, especially on dresses that they were just going to wear one time. The idea of renting dresses was born, and in March of 2010, she opened The Frock Shop in Chicago. The designer dress rental company specializes in renting wedding dresses but also offers outfits for other special occasions such as proms, parties, and pageants. “Men have been renting tuxedos for years, so why can’t women rent dresses?” says Burrell.
At The Frock Shop, women can rent cocktail dresses for as low as $40 and wedding dresses for under $200. The Frock Shop currently has thousands of dresses in stock, the same kind you’d find at department stores and high-end boutiques. Customers do not have to worry about return shipping and dry cleaning after wearing their dress, as these are covered by The Frock Shop. The company initially rented wedding dresses but later added other types of dresses after people began asking about them. Burrell attributes her company’s growth to their ability to listen to customer requests. If they do not carry a certain dress, they look for it so that they have it the next time someone asks for it.
In 2011, Burrell entered the Black Enterprise Pitch competition and walked away with the $10,000 first prize. She used some of the money to acquire more inventory and put up an e-commerce website, which allowed her to reach more customers. Burrell plans to expand The Frock Shop to Atlanta, Dallas, DC, and Los Angeles.