Aussie model’s $1.2 million brainwave
An Aussie model who couldn't decide on a birthday present has turned that annoying problem into a growing business empire.
At the start of the year, 24-year-old influencer Nicole Shiraz's boyfriend told her to pick out a designer handbag for her upcoming birthday.
But while there were plenty she liked, she couldn't find one she loved enough to justify the hefty price tag.
That's when Ms Shiraz stumbled upon a genius business idea that has changed her life.
The young woman, who splits her time between Sydney and Los Angeles, has always been a fan of renting outfits online rather than constantly updating her wardrobe.
So when she couldn't settle on the perfect handbag, she decided to start her own luxury bag rental company.
The result was Boss Ladies, which officially launched in late January.
Last month, it was valued at $1.2 million after securing an investor, and the company now has 400 items from high-end designers like Chanel, Fendi and YSL in circulation and a team of 20 staff members.
She managed to rake in a stunning profit of $10,000 in the first month alone and $30,000 in the third month, while the business was still running out of Ms Shiraz's home.
And this month, the business reached a new milestone, hitting a record combined sales for both Australia and the US online store totalling more than $105,000.
Boss Ladies also managed to reach 100,000 followers on Instagram after just four months and it now has more than 100 influencers and brand ambassadors promoting the brand.
Ms Shiraz told news.com.au the inspiration had stemmed from her own "selfish reasons" but had grown into an Aussie success story.
"I'm big on social media and I like to pose and show off and whatnot, so I wanted to get a handbag for my birthday solely to show it off, but I went in the store and couldn't find anything I really loved - I didn't want to spend thousands on one bag," she explained.
"Because I travel so much between Sydney and Los Angeles and I live out of my suitcase, I rent a lot of clothes … so I thought 'why not rent a bag like clothes?'
"I started looking into it, but (other handbag hire sites) only had old stuff and two-day-hire policies - but you want to keep them for a week or two."
She said the concept had struck a chord with young women in similar circumstances.
"There's a lot of pressure on people to keep up-to-date and look good at parties and events, but a lot of people don't want to spend the money upfront," Ms Shiraz said.
"With Boss Ladies, women can look and feel like a boss, they can feel expensive and confident without the stress and pressure."
Initially, Ms Shiraz only had four handbags available as she was still worried the business could "fail".
But after a week they were booked out, and she knew she was onto a winner.
"That's when I thought, 'OK, this is a market'. People loved it and it spread through word of mouth" she said.
"I started having influencers jump on board and it was crazy - I was getting orders when I didn't even have bags because there was more demand than supply."
Ms Shiraz soon got a bank loan and secured an investor and was able to rapidly expand the range and her team.
But even still, she didn't immediately realise how successful Boss Ladies was becoming.
"To be honest, I was so caught up I didn't even pay attention to how many orders we were getting, but at the end of the first month, I'd made a $30,000 profit," she said.
"A lot of people told me 99 per cent of start-ups fail, but I didn't go into it thinking that. I just wanted to help other girls out there in my position to look and feel good even if they don't have the money to spend.
"I found a market that didn't exist."
She said a huge part of the business was helping women deal with the pressures to look a certain way, pressures amplified by social media.
She said the company tackled the problem by having ambassadors from all walks of life - from teenage students to stay-at-home mums - by publishing positive and helpful articles on the website and by "building a community" of customers who supported each other.
She said Boss Ladies would soon be getting an app - which she described as the "Uber of handbags" - that would further grow the business.
Ms Shiraz said one of the reasons for her success was offering weekly, fortnight and monthly rental options. The company also went above and beyond to guarantee on-time delivery, occasionally ending up out-of-pocket when courier mishaps occurred.
She said the range would soon be expanding into luxury luggage and opening pop-up stores as well, and that Boss Ladies will soon also host dinners and luncheons for customers and influencers to discuss self-confidence and other advice.