“Ignore The FOMO of VC Funding” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder
I had the pleasure of interviewing Brittany Finkle, Founder of Happily Ever Borrowed. She has been running Happily Ever Borrowed for 7 years while still working full-time in the corporate offices of your favorite luxury fashion brands. Happily Ever Borrowed is the premiere, luxury, e-boutique that rents bridal accessories to brides for their wedding day and has served over 1000 brides across America since launching.
Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?
I have three older sisters, and from the age of 12, I always helped plan their weddings. My one sister became engaged while I was at Cornell university studying fashion design and asked me to make her wedding dress. That was far too much pressure for me, but I offered to help shop with her. When I saw the poor quality and construction of the gowns, I was horrified. All women deserve to wear quality products on their wedding day. Charging thousands of dollars for such poor construction was terrible! Even worse, after spending their entire budget on their dress, most women forget that they need to accessorize as well. I was astonished at the high prices of veils, headpieces, and jewelry. This is one of the most common instances where brides exceed their budget. My sisters begged me to find a solution. I let the idea sit for quite a while, but after my third sister got married, the idea started to materialize. I launched the company with friend and now famous bridal gown designer Hayley Paige in 2011 and when Hayley stepped out to make her design dreams come true, I kept Happily Ever Borrowed trucking along!
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There is so much I can say that makes Happily Ever Borrowed special. We have exclusivity agreements with our design partners as our job is really to bring these high quality products to brides who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them, or to those brides who value sustainable practices. We have really taken the past 7 years to craft our brand and educate brides on why it’s important to wear gorgeous pieces, but not meaningful to own them. We have hundreds of stories from brides who were so happy to find our services, but I especially love the stories where brides tell us how they are spreading the word to ALL of their friends. That is our favorite way to receive brides and we love that more women are opening up about the sharing economy.
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We have a LOT of things in the works. Partnerships with bridal hairstylists, creating our own accessory line, looking into brick & mortar retail shops…we’re keeping very busy!
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I recently read “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, and it was great to see how LONG it took to create Nike as an empire. There were many times he came close to quitting and many times where he went full time to help fund his startup! I thought it was absolutely amazing that he was able to run both businesses just like me. It gave me another boost of energy to keep going.
Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Never Stop Networking : In the beginning, I was going to meetups at least twice a week to connect with investors, engineers, fellow entrepreneurs…anyone I could get to talk to me for 5 minutes so I could soak up inspiration. It’s so easy to get sucked into going straight home from your 9–5 and just working away, but the more you can network and meet people, the better your idea will be crafted.
- Find your Work/Work Balance : Maybe some of you are lucky enough to take the leap and launch your start-up full time. But for me, even to this day, I’m still working full-time. In the beginning, it is HARD to find that balance, but over time, automating things and finding help to keep the day-to-day of the business going is crucial. I pride myself in the fact that my FT job has never called me out for not being focused on the task at hand. Are the times when I need to run to the post-office mid day? Absolutely. But it’s never kept me from completing a task or seeming uninterested in my FT career. If you still care about your job, find the balance of how to make both work.
- Take advantage of your ability to work tirelessly: This one is simple. We get older and we get more tired. And then we have children which drain every last drop of your energy. In your twenties, take advantage of that energy! Keep moving, keep hustling, keep going. It only gets more tiring from here.
- Ignore the FOMO of VC funding: I have watched so many other wedding start-ups come and go. I’ve also felt jealous watching some companies get rounds and rounds of funding where I was really only able to launch an angel round in the beginning. Getting funded does NOT equal success. More money, more problems and it’s not always the golden ticket to success.
- Entrepreneurship can be lonely : There are plenty of birthday parties and special events I missed in my twenties because I would rather be home working on making Happily Ever Borrowed succeed. Of course you need to make time for the important moments in your life, but having a start-up requires non-stop attention. There might be moments you miss and you need to be prepared for that. That being said, always make time for those friends who mean most as they are the ones who are there to support you through it all.
Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
It’s my dream to be on the Today Show with Kathie Lee & Hoda. I feel like our brand speaks directly to their audience and who wouldn’t want to drink wine at 11AM with those two?! I know they would believe in the mission of renting your bridal accessories and reducing the waste of one-time wear items and I’d love to just meet them as they both have such inspiring stories.
— Published on June 27, 2018