20 QUESTIONS: Anna Bance, Girl Meets Dress

The ex-Hermes PR says working as a stylist's assistant during her university days helped inspire her designer dress rental business.

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Last Updated: 31 Mar 2014

1. IF YOU HAD DONE SOMETHING ELSE WHAT WOULD IT HAVE BEEN?

Another business, maybe in fashion but perhaps a completely different industry – travel or food. Other than that, I wish I could have really excelled in a sport early on and entered the Olympics…

2. WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU NAME YOUR BUSINESS?

We had list of names to choose from, and emailed our friends to vote. Although Girl Meets Dress was clear, The Fashion Library was an option.

3. IF YOU COULD BE BASED IN ANOTHER CITY WHERE WOULD IT BE?

London was the only city which made sense to launch an innovative retail concept, as we were the first to rent luxury apparel.

4. WHEN YOU STARTED, HOW DID YOU RAISE MONEY?

We self funded the business until it became profitable, and then raised money in summer 2013.

5. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DECISION SO FAR?

Decisions to increase monthly overheads such as moving office or hiring key team members are always important.

6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Not delegating certain areas soon enough in the early days. There are many things as a founder you get used to doing yourself, or think you can do it best. But it is important to trust, and let go.

7. WHAT IDEA DO YOU WISH YOU HAD COME UP WITH?

Zara: it has managed to perfectly balance broad mass style appeal with low prices, ethical practice, sustainable store design with growing profits.

8. HOW DO YOU HANDLE STRESS?

I am pretty good at managing pressure but list-making is important to organise thoughts and visualise priorities.

9. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?

I was a fashion stylist’s assistant through university: it was a really fantastic introduction to the fashion industry, when I was deciding what path to take. I learnt loads from my boss, there was lots of travel involved for fashion shoots, and it also meant I could take side freelance projects like celebrity styling for Hollywood actresses.

10. WHAT WAS YOUR WORST JOB?

I once started working at a magazine and on the morning of my first day the publisher walked in and announced its closure, effective immediately. So I literally packed up and walked out again.

11. WHAT WAS YOUR BEST JOB?

I was UK PR Manager at Hermes for three years. It’s a 177 year-old luxury brand which consistency announces record profits while retaining brand provenance and traditional practices. In the decade of ‘fast fashion’ it is refreshing to see success, not because something is in fashion but because it never goes out of fashion.

12. IF YOU WERE ON THE APPRENTICE WOULD YOUR TEAM BE NAMED?

Don’t even get me started on that topic – there’s a huge lack of smart business programmes on TV, considering the huge increase over the last 5 years in entrepreneurship/start-ups/and the London Tech scene.

13. WHAT COMPANY WOULD YOU INVEST IN RIGHT NOW?

A company working on producing phone batteries with week-long power.

14. APART FROM PROPERTY, WHAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE THING YOU’VE BOUGHT?

Starting a business means you don’t buy expensive things for a while…

15. SUIT OR JEANS?

Both: Jeans and a smart blazer, the perfect mix for the office, a meeting or a business event. But of course the rest of the time I am in a dress.

16. FLEXIBLE WORKING OR OFFICE HOURS?

I believe in hard work and long office hours and a team community. But saying that, everyone is flexible now – and with my tablet and phone, I’m portable, as are my staff.

17. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE OFFICE?

The commute distance couldn’t be more perfect. 10 mins by car or walkable. We moved in November and having more space now means we can facilitate customer appointments and press photo shoots, which we couldn’t do previously.

18. WHAT APP CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?

The daily newspapers and at the moment I am using CityMapper and YPlan.

19. WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL?

There are so many amazing entrepreneurs who are pioneering brilliant and useful business that are making our lives easier and more enjoyable. I love attending business events and networking so I get to know them all.

20. IF YOU WERE PRIME MINSTER FOR THE DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

I would put in place legislation to revive UK manufacturing, especially for British luxury brands whose heritage and brand identity is based here (and used as brand leverage) but whose production is in other countries such as Asia. Brands should be able to invest in opening British factories, and fly the flag with 100% integrity.

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