Jennifer Hyman Biography
Jennifer Hyman is the cofounder and CEO of Rent The Runway. This is a fashion and technology/logistics company offering clothing, accessory, and home rentals from over 600 designer brands for women and kids via on-demand rentals and subscription. Heyman, through Rent the Runway, has pioneered dynamic ownership in the fashion industry and amassed a huge customer following of 11 million people.
Jennifer Hyman Education
Jennifer Hyman grew up in New Rochelle, New York, where she attended New Rochelle High School. Recently, Hyman was inducted into the high school’s wall of fame. In 2002, she received a BA in social studies from Harvard University. Hyman was the Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Crimson while at Harvard. She met co-founder of Rent the Runway Jennifer Fleiss, while attending Harvard Business School where she graduated with an MBA in 2009.
Jennifer Hyman Rent The Runway
Jennifer Hyman alongside Jennifer Fleiss co-founded Rent the Runway in November 2009. Rent The Runway is an online service that provides designer dress and accessory rentals. Before opening brick-and-mortar retail locations in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Rent The Runway was initially a purely e-commerce company. Hyman is the current CEO of the company.
Jennifer Hyman Net Worth
Jennifer Hyman was born in New Rochelle, New York, and went on to attend Harvard University. She is an American businesswoman who has an estimated net worth of $300 million.
Jennifer Hyman Peter Mack
Jennifer Hyman was set to marry former Starwood Hotel executive Peter Mack in a ‘close to one million-dollar’ ceremony on August 31 at a horse ranch in Aspen, Colorado. She however called off her lavish wedding weekend just three days before. Hyman offered no explanations as to why she decided to call-off the wedding, just apologizing instead. She was 32 at the time.
Jennifer Hyman Wedding
Later Jennifer Hyman met and married Benjamin Stauffer, a film and television editor. They connected on the dating app Hinge, and Jenn went on her first and only online date. “I’ve always loved artists: creative, spontaneous, laid-back people—but I wasn’t meeting these types in real life,” explains Jenn. “So I figured that given I run a technology company, I should also trust technology to help me find the love of my life. Since then, Hinge has asked me to join their advisory board!”
The couple got married in January 2018 in a low key wedding in Montauk. The wedding was attended by family members and close friends. Together, the couple has a daughter named Aurora.
Jennifer Hyman Parents
Hyman was born to Dov Hyman and mother Linda Hyman. She has two siblings sister, Becky Leader and brother, Josh Hyman.
Jennifer Hyman Age
Hyman was born in New York on 24 August 1980. She is the CEO and co-founder of Rent The Runway and is 38 years old as of 2018.
Jennifer Hyman Twitter
Tweets by Jenn_RTR
Jennifer Hyman Height | Measurements
Hyman is a tall woman standing at 5 ft 7 inches (1.7 m). She weighs 140 lbs (65 kgs). Her eye color is moss green with light ash brown color. Her body measurements are 34-30-34 inches.
Jennifer Hyman Interview
People think you’re running a fashion business, but you’re really running a logistics business.
Jennifer Hyman: You know, if you think about traditional eCommerce, their businesses are based around outbound logistics. How quickly could I get the item to the customer? When it comes to a rental business, your focus has to be on inbound logistics, so how quickly can I get something back from a customer, restore it to perfect condition, in order to send it out to the next customer?
Now, when you’re renting clothes as opposed to renting out, let’s say physical DVDs, like Netflix did in the beginning of their business, there’s a lot of abnormalities that can happen. Someone can spill a glass of red wine, a hem could rip, something can come back in poor condition. You can’t take something through an automated process. You have to triage when you get it back to your warehouse, and therefore we’ve had to vertically integrate and run the world’s largest dry cleaning operation out of our warehouse.
I often describe it as being like a Willy Wonka-land of fashion. For people who love clothes, you go into the warehouse and you’re like, this feeling of reckless abandon like, “I’ll take that. I love this.” What’s actually happening is thousands of people are taking it through a process of receiving the inventory, really early in the morning, understanding what we have to do to restore it to perfect condition. Most of the clothing in our warehouse is actually turned around with a zero day turnaround time, meaning same day.
When you started this ten years ago, did you expect to be this deep into logistics, cleaning and fabric?
Jennifer Hyman: I thought we were going to outsource our logistics and outsource our technology. Right now if you think about our logistics and technology teams, it’s 90% of our employees, so the very things I thought that we were going to outsource are both the core competencies of the business as well as the barriers to entry.
In the very beginning of the company, we were the ones packing out the orders every single day. We were the ones, you know, putting something through a dry cleaning process. I was at every single designer appointment.
Now that it’s ten years later, and we have an incredible team, I’m far less in the weeds than I was before, but I think a great leader knows when to flex the altitude, so they know when to stay up at 100,000 feet and focus on the vision and the strategy, and for which two to three really, really important things every year, that you go down to that one-foot level.
How are you thinking about growth?
Jennifer Hyman: The only metric that really matters is usage. If you’re going to change consumer behavior, you’re more likely to do that if she’s using you more of the days of the year.
We are in the midst of launching a national partnership with WeWork, where WeWork lobbies across the country are going to have Rent The Runway drop boxes, where our subscribers can take back the clothing they’ve already worn, drop it in the drop box, and then immediately on their app, choose the next items they want, and receive them, either same day or the next day. It really expedites how quickly you’re going to be able to turn around the clothing you have, and therefore the average subscriber can go from using us 120 days of the year to potentially 150 or 175.
Your average subscriber is using you once every 3 days?
Jennifer Hyman: Right. Which is remarkable. Think about other things that we do all the time — for instance the average American buys a cup of coffee 85 days of the year. The fact that 2.5 years after we launched this subscription, that our customers are already using us 120 days of the year is a signifier to all of us that they were really ready to put their closets in the cloud.
By opening up more distribution, what do you expect that to get to?
Jennifer Hyman: I would like it to get to, over time, 250, 300 days of the year.
So your closet is basically empty except for Rent The Runway rentals.
Jennifer Hyman: I think that your closet should be filled with some investment pieces that you can wear over and over again, that provide almost the canvas to what your Rent The Runway subscription is doing, so you should own a black cashmere sweater, and you can wear it with a new skirt from Rent The Runway ever single day, or a new pair of pants. People should be thinking about their clothing purchases as investment pieces, and in terms of cost per wear.
The industry, over the last 30 years, has moved away from that. And, in fact, close to 85% of the purchases in this $2.4 trillion industry are kind of one-time use or two-time use purchases. We go into a store with the intention of, “I’m going to buy this quick fix. It’s something that I want right now.” It’s an impulse purchase. It fulfills a trend.
And your push into same-day delivery enables that same kind of sugar high?
Jennifer Hyman: Exactly. Rent The Runway, we think, is a more sustainable way to get that emotional high of self expression.
Beyond just being the voice of the company, you’ve taken up many industry causes. How are you thinking about where and when to speak out?
Jennifer Hyman: I think over the last few years I’ve had less confidence in being able to rely on government, and Washington to make the right moral decision on behalf of the American public. At the same time, Rent The Runway has scaled dramatically over the last few years, so suddenly you get out of your bubble, and you realize, “Wait, there’s 1,500 people and their families that work for me today. That number is likely going to be double next year, and Lord knows what it will be a few years from now.” I have a responsibility that’s just beyond making money.
I started to think about the inequity that exists in business, that I had been part of perpetuating for the first chapter of Rent The Runway. That inequity was treating and compensating our hourly and our salaried employees differently. Meaning that we had a different set of benefits that we gave to our salaried employees, that were more generous.
I began to question why that was — and the only reason I had is that we had copied what other best in class companies did. I had never spent the time thinking about the implications of my own actions.
It’s still relatively early, but did equalizing benefits between hourly and salaried employees changed retention numbers at your company?
Jennifer Hyman: We are starting to see that it’s changing retention. It’s certainly changing the day to day culture within the warehouse.
You wrote about a woman who was going to quit because her daughter was having a c section and she needed to care for her. Leave wasn’t an option. What’s the follow up?
Jennifer Hyman: It changed her work, but it also changed the mentality of all of the women that she [works with]. She was on our seamstress team, she still is. All of the women that she works with every single day, who clearly knew that her daughter was going to have a C-section as well, now know that they can go through and celebrate life events, or deal with difficult times, and Rent The Runway is going to support them through those times.
But you don’t just talk about just what needs to change at Rent the Runway, you call out your peers and investors. Why?
Jennifer Hyman: I think two reasons. First is, there’s a recognition I have that the very best founders, the very best ideas come from people who have personally experienced a problem. Right now we have a set of entrepreneurs, who represent the wealthy in this country, who represent people who went to Ivy League schools, who grew up in educated backgrounds, who had every opportunity given to them. I’m one of those people, and I created Rent The Runway. I’m not claiming that Rent The Runway is addressing the ills of society, because it’s not. I was not equipped as a founder to address the ills of society because I haven’t experienced them.
Unless we diversify the voices and the people that get an opportunity to become entrepreneurs, we’re never going to have ideas that really address the full demographics of the country. The lack of female entrepreneurs is certainly a massive problem. Only 2% of dollars are going to women, so clearly it’s a problem. But it’s also a problem that we’re not funding entrepreneurs of different races, of different ethnicities, people who come from the middle of the country, people who come from poorer backgrounds.
The second piece of it is: If I’m not going to speak up, who will? What’s the point of my life if not to have a voice and try to change the world for good? I mean it’s egregious right now how few women there are in leadership positions, not just across business, in government, in all areas of society. Is it 2018? It’s ridiculous. That’s also the case for all under-represented groups. We just have to speak up so that the world can change.
What do you think your peers should be doing?
Jennifer Hyman: think that more entrepreneurs should certainly be speaking up about missions that are authentically important to them. That’s not that everyone has to stand for every issue, but there are things that an entrepreneur can uniquely stand for, that their company can uniquely stand for, and their voice is an important part of our national conversation.
A little bit over a year ago, you went on CNBC and talked about your experience being sexually harassed by one of your investors or would-be investors. Have you been surprised by any changes or the lack of changes that have happened in the year since you came out?
Jennifer Hyman: I think that there is a massively big and positive movement that’s happening in the entrepreneurial community that’s represented by organizations like All Raise, coming together with this recognition that it is harder for female founders and entrepreneurs. Now there’s a lot of reasons. It’s not just related to sexual harassment. I think that’s the easiest one to identify, but there’s a massive amount of gender discrimination. It’s harder for women to hire. It’s harder for women to get the amount of capital they need early on. Now we have seen a lot of hiring in VCs over the last year, where all male firms are starting to hire their first female partner.
That’s great, but we know, and data proves, that having one woman in the room, or having one person of color in the room doesn’t change the conversation. You need to have a plurality of voices in order for that woman to be able to make a difference. I think that it’s a great first step, but we need to encourage these firms to diversify even further, and it can’t really be done soon enough. We’re seeing that.
Just yesterday Kirsten Green at Forerunner announced that she raised a $360 million dollar fund. This is a woman who has had some of the greatest successes in venture capital over the last few years, between her investments in Jet and Warby Parker, and Glossier, and a whole host of companies, many of which like Dollar Shave Club have been acquired or have had great exits. [The same day] she raised this $360 million dollar fund I saw an announcement that an associate from Greylock or Sequoia raised a $500 million dollar fund.
The associate didn’t have the track record that Kirsten and her partner, Eurie [Kim]have. Has certainly not had the success, has certainly not had the voice, why is it that one of the most successful women in the industry is raising this much and some, effectively, and this guy may be very smart and very talented, but kind of a no-name guy is able to raise a $500 million dollar fund right out of the gate, because we’re giving him a chance?
It’s like she has to work so hard to prove that she’s worthy of the multi-billion dollar fund. Another guy can just say, “Hey, I’m here,” and suddenly they have a lot more money to play with. We all know that when you have more money to put to work, there’s a higher probability of success, because you have more opportunities to fail.
What career advice you give people?
Jennifer Hyman: I think the first thing is to just go for it. I have had a confidence throughout my life, not that Rent The Runway was going to be successful, but a confidence that even if it wasn’t, even if the worst possible scenario happened, that worse possible scenario isn’t that bad. I think that people often catastrophize a situation, and they believe that, some call it fear of failure, but it’s really feeling like your life ends at that point.
The reality is that people have a lot more resilience than they give themselves credit for, and that we have to be aggressive in going after our dreams in our lives, and that’s just not your dream for your career, it’s your dream for your family life, it’s the dream for the type of social life you want to lead. If you’re not aggressive about that dream, it’s never going to happen.