Start-up Interview: Jo Hodges Provides Women with handbags from heaven

pic_jo_compressedWith still no real end to the recession in sight and disposable incomes lower than they once were, online rental has become hot internet business.  With a similar business model to the likes of LOVEFiLM and Blu Blangle, handbags from heaven gives handbag lovers the chance to use a bag they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.  Here, founder Jo Hodge talks to The NextWomen about their growing turnover and visions for the future.

What was your start date, founding team and initial funding?

handbagsfromheaven was founded in July 2007 by myself, an IT Project Manager by trade and full time mum of one.  The business was funded by the redundancy payment I received from my “day” job.

What is your business model?

Our business model has four facets of revenue generation: 1.    PAYG service. This is targeted at the women who require a designer handbag once or twice a year to attend special events such as interviews or weddings. 2.    Premium membership. Customers have the option of paying a monthly subscription to access additional benefits.  These benefits include free bag hires, discounts off rental prices and reduced prices at other e-tailers we have partnered with.  This service is aimed at the fashion savvy woman who aspires to the celebrity “it bag” lifestyle 3.    Corporate clients. Hiring our products to corporate clients such as TV and Film production companies, PR agencies for advertisements and photographers for fashion shoots. 4.    Subscriber data access for email marketing. We are looking at implementing paid for advertorials in our newsletters/blog for companies that wish to target our customer database.

What was your turnover in year 1 and 2?  What is your projected turnover for the future?

Our turnover has increased significantly year on year since our launch in July 2007 and we are expecting a 15% increase year on year in the next three years.

Who built the website?

The website was a joint effort between myself and a local web design agency, like design.  I now solely manage all aspects of the design, updating and payment processing.

What is your vision for next 3 years? Who are your competitors and what is your advantage?

Our vision for the next three years is to provide a “one stop shop” for hiring luxury accessories.  We will expand our product range into watches, jewellery, hats, scarves and sunglasses.  Our main competitors at present are Fashion Hire and Handbag Hire HQ.  However, we provide a distinct advantage over these two companies. We offer a “pay as you hire” service that allows women to hire a handbag for a one off special event without signing up to the membership scheme - with both Fashion Hire and Handbag Hire HQ, however, they will not hire out items unless customers sign up to their membership for a minimum of three months.  In addition to this, our membership scheme provides a whole host of benefits that our competitors do not, including free hires and discounts on products and services from companies we have partnered with.  This allows us to give our Members added value in other areas of their lives.

Any news?

Next month we will be launching a competition with two leading companies in the luxury clothing hire arena to provide a once in a lifetime designer hire outfit for the new year.  Details are still being finalised at present, but keep your eyes open, as we be releasing them shortly.

I like the sound of this - its very much like the performance car members clubs that men tend to join where they can pay a yearly membership and then hire from a selection of expensive cars. If they are able to extend the options available to thinks like sunglasses and jewelry that would be great. The only thing I don't understand is how they can insure it all must be a nightmare.

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