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In Her Shoes (But Really): Meet Homa Zaryouni, Founder of 10 Wooster

Photo by Bill Wadman

Photo by Bill Wadman

How many times have you wondered where someone bought something to only find out that it's no longer on the market? Rather than hunt down that exact piece why not rent it from that person you saw it on? Homa Zaryouni, Founder of 10 Wooster, is doing just that. Rather than save up to buy one item, you can spend less money to rent the dress of your dreams that you're only planning on wearing once. Homa sources the closets of coolest and most stylish lenders and invites you to shop. 

1. As someone that feels like her closet is boring you proved to me that there is excitement in everyone’s closet by styling. What inspired you to start 10 Wooster and encourage others to shop strangers closets? 

The inspiration for 10 Wooster came at a moment when I was cleaning out my own closet, and I realized 70% of what I spent on clothes, was spent on things I wore once. Shoes for weddings were a big offender, so were dresses, a long tulle blush gown worn only once, an expensive bright clutch that is beautiful, but doesn’t necessarily go with every dress. Lots and lots of resort-wear, which is pretty useless for someone who lives in New York. A lot of my outfits were worn once or twice on vacation, and that realization was very eye-opening. 

Going with a uniform or simply not buying these types of clothing was not an option for me, because why cheap out at a wedding where you’re going to take photos, or take that amazing vacation and not wear exactly what you want to wear?  

I talked to a few friends and we all had the same problem. Our closets had moved from being utilitarian to collector’s trunks. We talked about swapping clothes, but nobody wanted to be the second one on social media wearing the same dress. So I thought, what if we swapped with strangers? Borrowing each other’s clothes wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t have the same social circles. 

2. How does 10 Wooster work and how do you see this changing the way we look at fashion? 

The 10 Wooster process is pretty simple – You pick a dress, you select the dates you want the dress for, and it arrives at the door at the start of your seven-day rental period. On the last day, you take the prepaid label and drop it in a USPS or FedEx box. We have a try-on box, which means you can select up to five dresses to try on. You receive and send everything back at the same time, paying only for the items you wear.

This changes fashion in that we are beginning to see clothing as an experience, rather than a possession. Increasingly, women (and men) are more concerned with how they look on social media and in photos – and less with ownership. Outfits are being cycled through more often for the same reason, because people a new look for every photo. / 

We are also seeing a need for a styling component, which I didn’t anticipate when starting this service – and we are testing that product in beta and it will come soon! 

3. What’s been the most exciting part of launching this platform? What have been your biggest challenges? 

When I get good feedback, someone telling me they borrowed a dress and got compliments all night– I just love it. We also have trunk show events, and I really enjoy interacting with women and getting them to step out of their comfort zone, try on new styles and enjoy it. 

Looking through people’s closets and getting their sense of style is amazing. I never notice how quickly time is passing. 

What has been challenging is understanding and anticipating client needs, and that is really an ongoing process. We had done a ton of research and done a lot of surveys, but it’s almost impossible to know what people want until you ask them to pay for it. Right now, we are focused on keeping a dialogue with our customers and fans and evolving with them. 

4. What is your go to outfit for a typical day in NYC? What is your perfect date outfit? 

My typical outfit changes by season. Right now it’s black jeans (I got a step-crop pair from Mother and I can’t seem to wear anything else.) + a sweater from my rotation + studded boots. Summer, it’s a dress from the rotation and block heels. Simplicity is key for me because I’m not a morning person. 

My weekend wardrobe is more exciting though. You might find me in a blue-feather jacket, a chainmail blazer, or a cashmere jumpsuit. Right now I’m looking for good recommendations for a sharp leather shirt. There is this faux-leather dress from The Frankie Shop that I’m obsessed with. If anyone owns it and is willing to lend it to me, please reach out!  

My perfect date outfit is a dress. I like to dress up and experiment a little on dates because otherwise, what’s the point? Don’t listen to advice about keeping it simple on a date, blah, blah blah. Be yourself, and if you are a “fashun” person go ahead and man-repel! That’s how you weed out the bad ones. ;) 

5. What are some of the most unique pieces you’ve found in others closets? 

One of our lenders is a stylist, and she has an amazing custom-made dress that I love. There is a cute furry Fendi bag from another closet, that I might rent the next time I have an event. It would be a perfect accessory to keep a black-tie outfit from becoming too serious. 

In general, I love seeing how New Yorkers, who dress in jeans and all-black on a daily basis, can be so colorful when dressing for vacation or an event. 

Get 15% off your first rental at  10 Wooster when you use code Six15 at check out.