There are plenty of maternity shops out there, but nothing like Mine for Nine LLC! Marisa Moss, the founder of Mine for Nine LLC has brought a new concept to the maternity clothing market.
MineforNine.com is an innovative e-commerce site which allows women to “borrow” fashionable, high-quality maternity clothing for a fraction of the cost of buying. Pregnant women borrow professional business attire for monthly increments and special occasion clothing in two week periods.
MO: How did you originate the concept for Mine for Nine LLC?
Marisa: It was during that conversation that Marisa suggested to her friends a website that allows women to borrow maternity clothes on a monthly basis. She thought the idea could be successful because most women don’t have a choice but to buy maternity clothes when they become pregnant. So instead of spending a fortune on a professional maternity wardrobe that fits well throughout your entire pregnancy (meaning, buying new clothes as your body changes), a woman can borrow from MINE for at least 75% off retail prices and still get a great fit and a huge selection of clothes. Of course, some women have the option to borrow clothing from friends and family, but she thought her business would probably care for the clothing even better then the hand me-downs (when was the last time your sister dry-cleaned a shirt before she lent it to you?).
MO: What were your biggest challenges when starting Mine for Nine?
Marisa: The biggest challenges to launching Mine for Nine was the developing the website. Because of the unique concept of being able to not only rent the clothing, but also buy it in the current season, the first web designer was unable to build the website as promised. As a result, I had to scrap the original web designer and start over again with a new one, which pushed back my launch date by almost 18 months.
The other challenge to launching the website was the return process of the clothing. Originally, we were send a postage paid envelope with the order that was pre-weighed. But if the customer decide to return an item, we were double-paying for postage. In order to resolve this issue, we establish an “electronic merchandise return label” service with the USPS so that we can send a customer a PDF of their postage paid label that is weighed at the time of pick-up instead of being pre-weighed. This has reduced our redundant shipping costs.
MO: How does the process of “borrowing” clothes actually work?
Marisa: A customer selects the item she would like to borrow. Once she selects a size, she has the option of increasing the borrowing period. If it is a professional piece of clothing, she can borrow it for one month, two months or three months. For items that are special occasion, she can borrow it for two weeks, four weeks or six weeks. In addition, a customer also has the option to choose an additional size free. If the rental period is two weeks, the 2nd size free, can be returned with the original size. If it is a monthly rental or longer, the 2nd size free must be mailed within three business days of receiving the item in order to not be charged for both sizes.
The borrowing period starts the day the customer receives the item, NOT the date we ship it. We send an e-mail with the return date for the customer once it the United Sates Postal Service notifies us that it has been delivered. We then send an e-mail one week before the item has to be returned and another reminder one day before as well. If the customer would like to keep it longer or we don’t receive it by the due date, we just charge the customer the pro rata amount of the borrowing period (so there are no late fees). We do give the customer a seven day grace period from the time the item is due before we charge the customer an additional borrowing fee.
When the customer is ready to return the item, all she has to do is sign into her account page, select the return shipping label tab, print the appropriately designated return postage label and ship it back in the envelope provided. If the customer decides she would like to buy the item outright, we charge the customer the difference between the full retail price and the borrowing period.
MO: What has been the biggest highlight since starting Mine for Nine LLC?
Marissa: biggest highlight has been all the positive feedback and press we have received. Some of the headlines such as “Genius Alert…” by Glamour.com and “in the category of why didn’t think of this…” by Nola.com have been incredibly flattering.
In addition, I have been so impressed with the number of customers that have offered to help the business grow in one form or another. For example, one customer works for Google and offered to help me develop a google marketing plan. While another customer works for a law firm we have agreed to have them represent us to register trademarks and in acquisitions.
MO: Your site is very user-friendly! Did you have any experience in building an e-commerce site, and if not how did you find the right people to help you start the site?
Marisa: This is the first time I built an e-commerce site. In order to make it user-friendly, we reviewed other websites that we liked, solicited feedback from friends and family and had an amazing web designer.
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