Lona Duncan - Model Techie With An MBA - From The Mountaintop of Fashion to the Valley...Silicon, That Is

Lona in One of Her White Gowns

 I had a recent talk with fashion model-turned-entrepreneur, Lona Duncan. She's Albanian born but now hails from the Bay area. We talked about her modeling past, but mostly focused on her current project, renting pricey dresses for the every day woman from her website, StyleLend.com.About a year and a half ago, Duncan came up with the idea of Style Lend while traveling in Paris. She thought it would be convenient if she could borrow clothes from a stylish Parisian instead of dragging around a load of her own. And if she had that idea, she was certain other women would also. The wheels began turning. StyleLend was born.

Lona Model Headshot

The way it works is this. As a lender, you have two options: Do-it-yourself (DIY) or Concierge. With the DIY option, lenders list their dresses, meet with the borrowers, and take care of all the cleaning and other details. The DIY lenders get 70% of the rental price, from $50 on up to $500 for the high end designer wear. With the Concierge option, StyleLend takes care of it all, from picking up the dresses, listing them, delivering them, and dry cleaning them. In turn, lenders keep 50% of the rental price. I thought this is a great business model and green too.

Up to now, Ms.Duncan has self financed this venture with little outside help. That is about to change. Style Lend has now been approved by the ever so picky Y Combinator group of venture capitalists for the much needed capital that is the life blood of any start up. They are known as the mother of all successful start ups in Silicon Valley. Room renter, AirBNB DropBox, and other start ups have benefited from them. They only take an average of a 6% share of the venture for a small amount of capital. Good deal, I think. If you ever watch CNBC's "Shark Tank" (one of my favs, BTW), you will know how much this counts. We agreed that as important as GETTING money is, is HOW one USES those funds to grow the business. SMART money trumps amount of money every time. Next month will tell the tale as that is when they all meet. 

Lona Modelling

How does Lona deal with the whips and scorns of the outrageous entrepreneur's life? She admitted to me that she has "suffered a lot." From thinking about the business night and day to being disappointed at undelivered promises from people she's trusted, it's been a roller coaster ride to be sure. However, "when it's good, it's all worth it." From enduring my own info marketing site's growing pains, I have to agree. I always have to remind myself ( and she should) that the only one I have to answer to is me, after all. Beats working out in the world.  

Lon in One of Her Cream Gowns

So, if you have an important event to attend or party to go to and have nothing to wear, go Windows shopping at StyleLend.com. You'll look like a red carpet hottie and save a bundle of cash in the process. The times they are a changin', Lona Duncan said. It's no longer "wear, worn and waste", ladies. You can BE green and SAVE green at the same time.



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