Xiao Fang, or Kathy, used to work in finance. Whenever she had to attend important meetings, she always made sure that her ensemble was well put together. Her friend, Dea Amira, who loves to hangout with her friends and attend social activities, feels the need to constantly renew her wardrobe.
Kathy realized that other women might also appreciate a rotation of stylish clothing. Inspired by Rent the Runway, a US clothing and accessories rental service that Kathy had used when she was studying in New York, Kathy and Amira co-founded Rentique, which offers similar services to women in Indonesia.
“We realized that Indonesian women are very active in social events. People like to dress very nicely,” Kathy told KrASIA in a recent interview. “We also realize there is social pressure on women. If they wear the same outfit every time, they might be judged by other people. At the same time, many young women are making their own money, so they have a limited budget. It’s hard for them, that’s why we started Rentique.”
The startup’s name is a portmanteau of “rent” and “boutique,” meaning customers can rent from the company as if it were a fashion boutique. The company was founded in February 2019.
To focus on building Rentique’s platform, Kathy and Amira left their jobs. “It was not too hard for us. We enjoy the process. When there is a challenge, we try to solve it. People worry a lot for the future and stuff, but we feel fit and confident with the new startup. It’s a very big opportunity,” Kathy said.
Now, Kathy is responsible for operations and monitoring the platform’s performance, while Amira focuses on merchandising and content marketing.
Even though Rentique is barely more than half a year old, it has around 40,000 active users. It has a wardrobe with 5,000 items of clothing and accessories from local designers. The company also collaborates with one of Indonesia’s largest fashion brand distributors, PT Mitra Adiperkasa, to carry internationally recognizable brands, such as DKNY and BCBG.
Kathy looks back and realizes that starting a company required a whole different mindset than being on someone else’s payroll. While she and Amira put all of their energy into building Rentique, it was difficult to locate people with the same vision and convince them to join the team. That took some time to accomplish, but they were eventually able to form a core group of tech workers who were motivated to build the company with the founders.
The team consists of just ten people, including Kathy and Amira. They manage to make things work because of a high degree of automation, making their operation cost-effective. Although Rentinque only maintains one wardrobe in Jakarta, the company has managed to take its services to 22 cities in Indonesia, and is aiming to land in more places in the country this year.
Rentique’s charges start at IDR 80,000 (USD 5.20) per item, depending on the brand, and includes delivery and cleaning. The company also offers a subscription model, where a customer can rent eight pieces and pay IDR 290,000 to 390,000 (USD 19 to 28) per month. That’s quite a bit cheaper than the prices of their chief competitor, Style Theory, which charges IDR 590,000 in the first month and IDR 999,000 thereafter for unlimited rentals. However, Rentique’s users tend to pay one-off fees for the flexibility.
Kathy has drawn inspiration from Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has left an imprint on her perspective on managing a business.
“Be proactive. When you face obstacles, don’t blame it on external environment and feel shattered. Separate yourself from your moods and feelings. Then you will realize you always have the choice to be positive,”Kathy said.
Kathy is a strong advocate of sharing experiences with other founders. When Kathy takes the initiative to engage other entrepreneurs, the benefits, she says, go both ways, because she can also learn about news methods to solve problems and maintain a healthy mentality—feeding her own strength to build and grow her business.
This article is part of “Profiles in Tech,” a series by KrASIA that highlights the achievements of individuals who are a driving force behind South and Southeast Asia’s tech startups.