Why I Started a Wedding Dress Company

Barcelona 2018, the last place I thought I’d find myself.

“Wedding Dress For Rent ran itself, the service is a no brainer for brides to be”

My Co-Founder

It had been one year of dating my mainland chinese girlfriend. We met back in 2014 by chance at a fundraising event and 3 years later, somehow, started dating while still being separated by thousands of miles but that’s a story for another day.

I never fully understood what she did for a living but I knew she studied fashion design and that she owned a wedding dress rental company in China. I thought that was so cool. I was dating a real boss lady. Sometimes I’d be confused as to what she saw in me but then she’d ask me to make her a website or lend one of my other technical skills - my true value as a partner… free labor ;)

One day she asks me if I want to start a company with her in the U.S. a wedding dress rental company just like hers but online only. We would be able to leverage her existing connections among many other resources to kick start this venture together. I thought it was a terrible idea. The business potential was absolutely there. There was essentially no competition - we even scored the domain name weddingdressforrent.com. It was just that based on our dynamic, I felt starting a business together would’ve been risky in terms of adding unneeded stress to our relationship. We already had a language barrier because our native languages were not the same. TLDR I hired a tutor to teach me mandarin after an epic failure of a date we went on back in 2015.

I still said yes. I’m an opportunist and I couldn’t give up this chance to start an ecommerce business with a loved one. As difficult as I predicted it to be, I wouldn’t regret the experience.

My Nagging Boss

Turns out anytime we jumped on a call and talked about business, there was a 50% chance of us arguing. It was a lot of my partner telling me what to do, scolding me for doing something wrong or for not listening clearly. I knew nothing about this wedding dress business so I was very naive. I had to constantly remind myself to not take things personally and to find a healthy way of communicating with her.

Ideally, personal and business can be separated just like on the T.V. show, How I Met Your Mother. Whenever Lily and Marshall got into an argument they could pause their argument at any time to kiss and make up and continue the argument at a later time ❤. Sadly that is not how real life works and often times an argument can leave a bitter taste.

However, that’s just a tiny unpleasant fraction of this whole experience. I admire my partner so much for what she’s accomplished and what she’s capable of. I’ve learned so much from her and was tasked with building a Shopify store as well as handling all operations in the U.S. including customer service, shipping, and cleaning.

Instructions on how to rent a dress from our no longer active website

My Failure

I’m not afraid to admit that this business was a failure, or more so - I failed this business. With my partner in China and me on my own in the U.S. running a business I’m not passionate about, it just ultimately made sense to dissolve the company. I didn’t enjoy answering all the phone calls, responding to all the yelp inquiries, emails, cleaning the dresses after customers dragged them through dirt and grass.

Other than those manual tasks, Wedding Dress For Rent ran itself, the service is a no brainer for brides to be. We didn’t need to do any advertising. People came looking for us because there are so few companies offering environmentally/financially friendly high end dresses. I still think it’s a great idea, just not for me.

In 2022 after filing my taxes and making the final CA $800 payment to the evil Franchise Tax Board, I mailed in the company dissolution papers. My hands were already full as I’ve moved onto a new venture: Red Door TV.

© 2022. All rights reserved. Marco Chiang

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