She Spent Her Honeymoon Working on a Side Hustle. It Raised $35 Million and Counts Celebrities Among Its Investors. Blake Geffen, founder of luxury accessory rental company Vivrelle, "skipped the bellinis" in the Maldives — and got to work on her company instead.
- Blake Geffen was inspired to start Vivrelle while wedding planning, identifying a gap in the market for accessible, high-end accessory rentals.
- Geffen says passion is the cornerstone of a successful side hustle, proving that a labor of love can lead to fulfilling and lucrative business ventures.
This Side Hustle Spotlight Q&A features Blake Geffen, founder of luxury accessory rental company Vivrelle.
Courtesy of Vivrelle. Blake Geffen.
Why were you interested in entrepreneurship, and what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Before founding Vivrelle, I spent the majority of my career in public relations, and I was always so inspired by the founders and CEOs that I worked with as clients. Now, being on the other side, I hope to be an inspiration for anyone I work with! Being an entrepreneur means being an inspiring and personable leader while being extremely passionate about the brand I am building and the team I am working with. Both of these elements continue to keep me motivated, no matter what challenges arise.
When did you start your side hustle, and where did you find the inspiration for it?
The idea for Vivrelle actually came to life when I was planning my wedding in 2017. As I was planning for different bridal events and occasions, I wanted to accessorize each outfit uniquely and in a way that reflected my style, but I found it nearly impossible to find high-end, quality options that didn't break the bank. That's when I realized there was a hugely untapped market for borrowed luxury accessories. I bounced the idea of creating an exclusive membership club that gives access to highly coveted accessories off my fiancé (and now husband/business partner!). We started building Vivrelle from the ground up, both leading up to our wedding and on our honeymoon, and we officially launched the company in September 2018.
What were some of the first steps you took to get your side hustle off the ground?
As mentioned, we spent our honeymoon, specifically our time in the Maldives, putting our business plan together. We still joke that we skipped the bellinis on our honeymoon and instead made a full-blown business plan. We then came back, and at the time, I was still working in public relations, so I was using the small amounts of free time I had to build the brand I was so passionate about. On weekends, we would spend our time pitching potential investors and garnering relationships with vendors and partners to help us create a website, tapping friends to help with marketing, etc. We used every waking minute to build our vision for Vivrelle and bring it to life.
What were some of the biggest challenges that came with the side hustle, and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges, which came in the beginning, was showing potential investors that they had reason to believe in us and this model. Before we launched, we said if we could get 50 members to sign up the first month, we would be on to something, and we far surpassed our goal! With my background in PR, we leveraged influencer marketing to help get us off the ground. As purveyors of fashion and lifestyle, we knew they could help bring our message to life quickly, so we prioritized working with ones known for their personal style and overall lifestyle to highlight how Vivrelle helps them elevate their every day.
How long did it take you to begin seeing consistent monthly and/or yearly revenue from your side hustle?
We feel very fortunate that, with hard work, we surpassed our initial projections in month one and have continued to see consistent growth month over month.
We continue to grow triple digits year over year and proudly raised $35 million in our Series B round with investors including celebrities Morgan Stewart, Nina Dobrev and Lily Collins. We've continued growing and expanding, and we're excited to reveal what we've focused on since our fundraise.
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
There is so much to love about running Vivrelle. One of the things I enjoy the most is meeting members on streets, airports, restaurants and hearing about how Vivrelle has brought them joy or improved their day-to-day lives. We have a showroom location in Manhattan, and I love going in and hearing which bags members are loving most, how they are styling and using them for special occasions, vacations and everything in between.
What's your advice for other side-hustlers who hope to grow lucrative ventures of their own?
Find something you are passionate about, and the work will never feel like a true "job." I've always loved luxury fashion and experimenting with my style, so starting Vivrelle felt like a natural evolution of this passion. As a CEO and mother of three, every day certainly looks different and throws new challenges my way, but I'm always excited to tackle whatever we face because I care so much about this space and the brand we've built.