It all started in a closet. “About three years ago I was standing in my closet and several of my friends had come over to borrow dresses, and I joked ‘I should start charging you for this,’ and that’s really when the idea first came about,” said Brandi King, a 2015 Haslam College of Business graduate and owner of Rentique.
What was once just an idea is now a reality. Rentique, a mobile fashion truck that rents high-end dresses and apparel for special occasions, is set to officially open its doors Thurs., Aug. 27 with a launch party at the Casual Pint in Hardin Valley from 3pm – 7pm. The truck features a changing room, a sitting area and a variety of clothing items, many of which are custom designs.
King, an engineering major at the time, recalls the exact moment she decided to pursue her idea.
“I was a business minor when Tom Graves (Operations Director of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation) came to speak in one of my classes about entrepreneurship. His speech got me really excited, and I changed my major that day.”
From there, she went on to take ENT 350: Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and less than two months into the semester, she had located a business partner and legally formed her business.
“I remember Dr. (David) Williams saying in class one day, ‘An idea is just an idea until you go and do something about it,’ and that’s when I decided to take the first step,” King said.
Knowing she needed to partner with a fashion designer, she set out to find someone local. She came across Jenifer Sanabria, owner of Jeni D. Designs, and reached out to her online.
“I had seen Jenifer’s Kickstarter campaign for her clothing line online. I really loved her designs, and I figured she had an entrepreneurial side based on her use of Kickstarter. We ended up meeting for coffee to discuss the idea of starting a fashion truck, and we hit it off,” said King.
Soon after, the partnership was formalized, and Rentique was one step closer to becoming a reality.
The next challenge was finding funding in order to get Rentique up and running. King secured a loan through UT Federal Credit Union’s Line 12 Fund, allowing her to purchase a used Wonder Bread delivery truck.
King then secured an additional $16,000 in funding by winning all three competitions offered by the Anderson Center in the spring semester. She first won Vol Court, collecting $1,000 in cash as well as legal and accounting services. Next, she was awarded $10,000 in the Boyd Venture Challenge, and she completed her sweep by collecting a $5,000 prize for first place in the 2015 Undergraduate Business Plan Competition.
“Winning those competitions was a huge help,” said King. “The cash was used for the truck build-out and our website. It included getting the logo designed, the truck wrapped and building the interior of the truck. We’ve used part of it toward inventory as well, but a lot of that was my partner’s contribution. As part of winning Vol Court, I was also able to meet with Erick Jackson at PYA, and he’s helped me set up Quickbooks.”
King kept costs down by completing a lot of the work on the truck herself with the help of friends and family.
Rentique will launch with 200 dresses on board in 38 different styles. Dresses can be rented for a flat fee of $19.99 for one dress or $29.99 for two. Dresses may be kept for seven days and returned either to the Rentique truck or any Prestige Cleaners location.
For the launch party, there will be giveaways, promotional items, and a few door prizes. In addition, the first 10 customers will be able to rent two dresses for the price of one.
“We’re really excited for the official launch,” King said. “It should be a fun night, and it’s a great chance for people to come out and check out the truck.”
The Rentique truck will be parked in front of the Casual Pint on Hardin Valley Rd. from 3pm – 7pm on Thurs., Aug. 27. King is working with many local businesses to establish future dates. Customers can keep up with the truck’s location by following RentiqueTruck on Twitter or checking www.rentiquetruck.com.