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Here’s the Career Advice You Need, From Rent the Runway’s Gabby Cohen

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at New School chapter.

On Wednesday, November 20th, SVP of Brand Communications and Business Development at Rent the Runway, Gabby Cohen, came to speak at The New School. From SoulCycle to Flamingo, and now Rent the Runway, she is a powerhouse that has completely transformed businesses and thrives at start-ups by working from the ground up. Here’s what you need to know from her talk: 

  1. People and relationships are so important in choosing an employer and employees. Make sure to build strong connections wherever you are and take a genuine interest in your employer. Being interested and making yourself available is vital. Going out of your way to take jobs others may not want to do speaks volumes towards your character and can lead to further promotions! 

  2. A budding entrepreneur? Gabby advises entering into a niche market in order to truly know your customer and establish your brand–be clear about what your brand or business is and isn’t! You should be saying “no” more than “yes” as to what your brand values and is able to supply. You can’t tailor your business to everyone’s needs, and you need to keep a clear goal in mind, while being realistic on the amount of success you anticipate. Focus on the customer and do right by the business; Walk, don’t run. 

  3. The fashion industry creates immense amounts of waste. Rent the Runway offers a subscription service that eliminates the need for customers to have clothing storage space, and allows them to try out the latest trends while not committing to purchasing an item that will soon go out of season, and will rarely get worn. Rather than shopping at Zara for that knock-off DVF dress all the celebs are wearing, you can rent that same dress and support the designer! RTR also works with independent designers to give them a platform for their pieces to be worn. The best part? RTR reports that the average customer finds 15 new brands they love within the first 3 months! Rent the Runway customer testimonies.

  4. How often do you wear the items you buy? Take a look at your closet and count how many times each piece has been worn. On average, 80% of our closets have only been worn 3 times or less. Crazy, right?! RTR is working to fill the gap in the market, hoping you will buy less…and it’s working. 85% of customers that opt into the service report that they spend less money on clothing, allowing for a positive behavioral change. No wonder it’s estimated that the fashion rental industry will be valued at $4.4 Billion dollars by 2028, due to the market RTR created. While they originally started with a focus on occasion wear, they now sell everyday clothing, and even homeware! The need for renting is only growing, as more people are becoming sustainably conscious. Their goal is that every customer will own half their closet (with the basics everyone needs), and rent the other half. Opting into their service? Make sure to send them all packaging back to be recycled! 

  5. Trends move at different times across the world. Remember the black top and leopard skirt look circa 2018 that was huge in New York? It’s just made its way to D.C. and is a huge hit with customers living there. Geographics are everything, and so is having a strong sense of brand awareness. Hosting pop-ups and IRL experiences lets customers physically interact with a brand, and they’re more likely to be open to communication (whether that be through email, followers, subscriptions, etc.)! 

  6. Is your Instagram feed on point or is it lacking a bit? Do you have a clear aesthetic? RTR uses their Instagram account as a way to gain a following, and it’s definitely contributed to their success. They spend very little on actual marketing, and mostly gain customers through their feed and word-of-mouth. You don’t need to spend money on a billboard on ad; allow for organic growth and followers will come to you. Using PR and socials to effectively drive your goals is key! Take a break from your Netflix binge-watch and spend some time on curating your feed to look the way you want it to, it can seriously pay off! 

  7. Priorities are major. Work is important, but so is family, friends, and self-care. If you overwork yourself, getting burned out is inevitable. Learning to say “no” and making boundaries for yourself is completely understandable! If you’re sleep-deprived and not at 100% at work, you won’t be able to effectively contribute to the tasks at hand. Be sure to get enough sleep, have healthy eating habits, and take time to unwind. 

  8. Want to work for RTR? Great! Gabby looks for a few specific qualities when interviewing job candidates. Having hustle and drive, being creative, asking important questions, listening and being present, complimenting your employers skill set, and having a glass ½ full outlook on life are what get interviewees hired. They’re always looking for new employees, and are proud to report that 93% of their employees identify as being either female or non-Caucasian. They hire throughout the country, and starting positions allow for growth within the company. 

If you’d like to keep up with Gabby’s work at Rent the Runway, her Instagram is @gabbyetco


Sierra (‘CeCe’) is a writer for The New School’s HerCampus chapter, and a member of the InfluenceHer Collective, Campus Trendsetters, and College Fashionista programs. She has formerly been a part of the High School Ambassadors program (now renamed HerFuture) and has been with HerCampus since her sophomore year of high school. She primarily writes articles on sustainability and environmentalism, fashion, music, and being a college student (go Narwhals!). She has previously studied at the University of the Arts London for Fashion Studies and Pratt Institute. She can be found in New York City at concerts or listening to true crime podcasts outside of class. Feel free to reach out to her for advice, suggestions, or to say hey! Her Instagram is @cecewarsh.
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