Always a Bridesmaid
By Jesy Odio '15
Published Jul 1, 2015 8:00 AM
Kelsey Doorey vowed to make weddings less expensive for bridal attendants.
When Kelsey Doorey ‘13 graduated, she had a job waiting for her at Bloomingdale’s in New York. But after being asked to be a bridesmaid six times during her years at UCLA Anderson School of Management, Doorey was struck with an idea she could not let go: Why do ladies have to spend large digits on bridesmaid dresses? Why not rent them like men do tuxedos?
Doorey decided to pitch her idea at the Knapp Venture Competition, a prime platform hosted by Anderson every year, where students can present their venture visions to a panel of judges. “I didn’t plan on being an entrepreneur,” she says. “I tried it just for the experience. I wanted to have some venture capitalists ask me some really tough questions and be put under pressure.” Her idea not only won first place, but also the people’s choice award. Plus, the judges were so impressed that they invested in Doorey’s concept on the spot.
After receiving so much motivation and support, Doorey declined her job on the East Coast, launched Vow to be Chic in Santa Monica and contributed to the ever-expanding tech community of Silicon Beach.
“It was a big decision. Do I work for my dream corporate job or stay in Los Angeles and start my own company?” she remembers..
After interning at the successful rental e-commerce Rent the Runway and working in wedding planning in New York City for several years, Doorey found the equation on how to turn the stressful and expensive bridesmaid tradition into an affordable, easy and yet still stylish experience. Here’s how it works: order online the designer dresses you like best. Months before the big day, try them on at home, pick one, then return the try-on dresses. A week before the event, your dress will arrive in the mail. Have a good time at the wedding and return the dress the next day. Don’t worry about the dry cleaning.
Vow to be Chic launched in spring of 2014, and the company is now comprised by mostly UCLA alumni and students. Before the end of its first year as a public enterprise, the business has already expanded and added a new collection: Little White Dresses, for all the occasions the bride attends before the wedding, such as photo shoots and rehearsals.
Her advice to other entrepreneurs still in school? “Talk to fellow classmates, professors and alumni,” she says. “Network in classes and with everyone along the way. Try to incorporate every assignment back to your business.”