Ming Bridges, Founder of Rentadella
Recovering and rediscovering her passion
During her sabbatical, she spent the year songwriting, getting used to no longer being labelled, and achieving a healthy body image after she gained weight. “I missed out on a lot of life experiences as I had spent the last few years battling my eating disorder and not seeing any friends while fully focusing on my career. It was time to just have fun and figure out what I wanted to do,” Ming said.
After a year of discovering herself apart from her identity as a singer, something that she held onto for a long time, she started Rentadella after reigniting her passion for fashion from the age of 12, which was when she knew that she wanted to have a sharing platform for fashion and had designed a whole website on paper. At 18, she revisited the idea again, but knew she would not be able to do both singing and starting a business properly at the same time.
When she saw businesses like Rent The Runway in the US and rental companies in Australia popping up, she said, “I felt, well, jealous! I knew that it was what I wanted to be doing and literally started Rentadella overnight.”
Her new found confidence in herself and burning passion to start Rentadella was all the motivation she needed. “It actually didn’t even feel like a choice – I just started doing it before I knew what I was doing. I had no clue what to do, but 100% faith that I would just figure it out along the way.”
What is Rentadella?
Rentadella Packaging Boxes, Below Their Rental Dresses
Rentadella is a fashion rental company that empowers women to tap on the shared economy. “Many people end up with closets full of clothes, but because they have already taken photos and attended events in those outfits, they prefer new clothes for an event.
Many end up not wanting to spend money on quality items, and buy cheap replacements instead. We want to give people the opportunity to wear the best brands and best cuts, but at a fraction of the price, and feel good knowing that the item is getting used to its maximum capacity.”
The fashion rental company targets mainly women around the ages of 25 to 40, but they also pride themselves in catering to all women for all seasons of life. Prom season for 18-year-olds is huge for Rentadella, and they also do very well with mothers of brides.
Their most popular styles at the moment would be Registration of Marriage (ROM) dresses. However, prior to COVID, wedding guest dresses were extremely popular. Rentadella started off as a company which did predominately casual, party, and cocktail designer items but Ming quickly realised that people saw more value in renting formal wear.
“The feeling you get when you help someone feel beautiful for their special event, and buying beautiful pieces that you know many people can wear is wonderful! I love fashion and shopping – and it’s nice knowing I can buy a piece to wear and know others will get to wear it for their special events as well.”
Leveraging her current network
Ming Bridges Used Her Network from the Entertainment Industry to Gain Exposure
Despite not having an initial background or a network in the fashion industry, Ming was fortunate to have a following from her singing career, which provided an initial boost to gaining exposure.
However, with the majority of her following being men, she worked hard to change her audience. She started selling her second-hand clothes on Carousell, and before long, she was helping her friends and family sell theirs too.
She then started buying clothes and making powerpoint documents to send to people online to see if they wanted to rent her clothes. “I just sent message after message, hoping someone would be interested.
I remember the New Year I managed to secure five rentals and I was so happy, to then realise that I had no packaging, so I had to make do with what I had and then figure out how to get proper boxes made.
That’s what it was like for everything – I figured it out as I went along – and boy did I make a lot of mistakes, but at least I made sure to never make them again.”
Learning to ask for help
Rentadella’s Dresses, Arranged According to Colours
Ming’s biggest challenge in starting Rentadella was learning how to do things she had never done before. This includes training staff members, learning how to delegate work, and customer service. “As someone who is a huge people pleaser, you have to learn to protect your business as well as help your customer – it’s tricky,” she said.
Hiring employees was a massive challenge to Ming. “Trusting other people with your baby (my business) and to do a job you’ve been doing everyday is very difficult, especially when you have no experience in training.
I’ve had to trust my gut but once again, have also made mistakes and found people to talk to about how one goes about conducting proper interviews.
I believe in setting a probation period, not only to make sure your employee is the right fit for your company, but also to make sure that they are also happy working with you.
I’ve never worked for anybody outside of the entertainment industry, so I have no experience regarding the employee / employer relationship, it is something I am continually asking for advice on.”
Through her entrepreneurship journey, Ming has learnt that being extremely clear, both with her customers and staff has been important. “I’ve learnt that sometimes you need to be respected more than you want to be liked.
That there are a lot of people out there who are ready to help you on your journey but also a lot of people who don’t want you to succeed – it’s figuring out who is who. That you cannot do everything by yourself.
To make sure you do the numbers. And also the research – there are a lot of grants available in Singapore to help first time business owners that I had no idea about! That rest is important, and working less but more efficiently is much better than busying yourself 24/7 with things you don’t do much.
Sometimes, just jumping headfirst and allowing yourself to make stupid mistakes helps because that is the best way to learn what you want to do.”
Adapting with the times
Rentadella’s Showroom and Fitting Room
Rentadella also started their weekly Instagram Live (IG Live) sales where they help customers resell their second hand items to give their designer items a second lease on life.
Ming says, “our IG Live second hand sales are still very new, so I spend a lot of time figuring out ways to perfect it, managing, tagging clothes, and curating fun sales every week with new items and giveaways.”
Ming’s hope for Rentadella is that customers have a wardrobe full of staple items they wear daily and then come to them to rent the one-off event pieces that they need.
On juggling it all
Ming Bridges, on How She Manages All Her Responsibilities
“I am a CEO, sales assistant, social media manager, photographer, stylist, photo editor, customer service responder, model, HR, business developer, buyer, etc. I would say now that I have sales assistants and stylists at the store, the majority of my day is spent liaising with them, answering customer messages and filming content for our business.”
When asked how she balances her personal and professional life, Ming says, “I am not good at juggling – I’m very much an all-or-nothing person. I’m either working, or on holiday.
I walk at 7am every morning with my parents and dog, so no matter what I see them everyday. I work closely with my mum and she’s my main confidant when it comes to making decisions with Rentadella, so spending time with her has never been an issue.
For my own mental health and to spend time with my fiancé, I try my best to shut off work by dinner time so I can relax and unwind with him – this usually involves watching mindless TV to shut off my brain.
I think a lot, so it helps having something non-specific to focus on if that makes sense! I also try my hardest not to eat too much sugar during stressful periods as I’ve noticed a correlation between my breakdowns and how much sugar I’ve been consuming!”
Prioritising, working hard, and playing hard
“I don’t think anyone can truly have it all and be sane – you really have to prioritise what is most important to you. It takes discipline to plan out your week to make sure you can get things done, but also be social and spend enough time with your significant other, and to be honest, the previous weekend I was so burnt out that all I wanted to do was sleep.
For me, I believe that when you work, put everything into it and work, but when you play, truly shut everything off and 100% relax. That’s my balance. I think if you try and juggle, you’ll find you never fully switch off and you’re never full on it either. “
For anyone looking to start a business, Ming’s advice is to start small and make mistakes quickly to minimise the amount of loss. “I learned the hard way that the things that may work in Australia, may not work in Singapore! Do everything yourself first so that if anything goes wrong, you know how to fix it. Metaphorically, I may be the one on the microphone but if my drummer calls in sick, or my saxophonist, or pianist, I know how to take over.
Read up on rules and grants that Singapore offers to help you start up. Be bold like you have nothing to lose, knock on EVERY door. Be relentless. Even if you get 1 out of 100, that is huge!”
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