A great business will bloom from a great idea if it is nurtured properly. Stephanie Hudebine found this out for herself when her husband encouraged her to take her small Facebook maternity...
Vancouver, British Columbia
A great business will bloom from a great idea if it is nurtured properly. Stephanie Hudebine found this out for herself when her husband encouraged her to take her small Facebook maternity gown rental business and turn it into a proper rental business. Just over a year later, and since using Booqable, her orders have grown by 400%, and she has gained more time for herself.
Gown rentals for pregnant women are becoming more popular, and it’s easy to understand why because the value proposition is outstanding. After all, women are only pregnant for nine months at a time, and it doesn’t make sense to buy a gown you may not need a few months down the line. Finding and serving a market like this is what can turn hobbies into opportunities.
Stephanie is a photographer who works with many women for maternity shoots and often provides gowns for the occasion. By the summer of 2020, she had amassed a collection of 60 gowns in various colors and styles. She would offer them to her clients but started casually renting them to women over Facebook on an informal basis.
At this point, it was purely word of mouth, but the number of women messaging her to arrange a rental was growing. It appears the proposition was unique in her area, and the market for women wanting to rent gowns during their pregnancy was quite a lot larger than she had expected. This meant she was devoting a lot of time to the business.
By the fall of 2020, her husband, Matt, encouraged her to pursue it as a proper rental business as he could see its potential. So he set out to help her by setting up her website and finding her a rental system that would automate the whole process. At the same time, she took care of everything from communicating with customers to posting on social media and cleaning the gowns.
Going back to the early stages of the business, Stephanie would receive a couple of orders a week. This was manageable, but she felt that it didn’t have a professional appearance for her customers. Her typical order process would be taking orders on Facebook Messenger, manually inputting the order into a spreadsheet, and accepting payment via an etransfer.
However, customers weren’t able to see which gowns were available unless they requested a gown list. This meant that they had to choose when they picked it up and added unnecessary hassle to the process. Matt and Stephanie knew that they could not continue to operate this way if they wanted to grow, and they needed to find a solution.
“If we had the number of orders we have now, we would run the risk of double booking or potentially getting disorganized and not properly updating the spreadsheet resulting in forgetting to fulfill an order. For this reason, we needed to be proactive and find a solution before ever getting overwhelmed.”
Once they decided to legitimize their gown rental business, Matt was tasked with creating a website and finding a rental system that met their needs. He discovered that Booqable was a very powerful tool that simplifies, automates, and organizes the whole process. It saved them a lot of time taking orders and solved the issues they predicted before they could occur.
Sugar Bump Gown Rental customers can now easily view the collection on their website without sending a message to Stephanie. Instead, they can choose a gown, checkout, and pay online for their reservation. The gown is then reserved in the backend and synced to a Google calendar to track upcoming orders.
“There’s no way for user error when it comes to choosing which gown a customer wants and selecting the date that was chosen since it is all automated and selected by the customer.”
Since signing up for Booqable and integrating it with their website, Sugar Bump Gown Rental has blossomed and bloomed into a thriving business. It has made the company more visible online than it had been as a side-hustle on Facebook. This, combined with the user-friendly order process it provides, has meant orders have grown by over 400% in the last year alone.
Now, they are working towards expanding the reach of the business beyond their local area. This has meant researching the demand in neighboring cities and working out how the logistics of shipping and returning gowns will work for them. Their current idea involves shipping the gowns with a return label to allow customers to easily return the gowns at the end of their rental period.
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