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Meet the founder who built a global business by renting out her wardrobe

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In our ongoing series of founder interviews, Eshita Kabra-Davies tells Jennifer Sieg how she discovered a groundbreaking business model within her wardrobe.

Have you ever considered charging your friend a tenner for borrowing your coat?

What about a stranger?

Turns out, that £100 coat could be your ticket to making £300 – at least, that’s what Eshita Kabra-Davies discovered with the invention of By Rotation, the UK’s first fashion rental app.

Founded in 2019, By Rotation – now often referred to as the ‘Instagram for fashion rental’ – has become a place for more than 400,000 users to share over £50m in wardrobe value.

“It’s very much a social network,” Kabra-Davies said as she reflected on how the platform has grown throughout the years.

Indeed, five years later, it is Kabra-Davies’ entrepreneurial spirit that is shaping the beauty of side hustles for fashion enthusiasts around the world.

From finance to fashion

The idea for By Rotation first came during Kabra-Davies’ honeymoon in Rajasthan, India, when she recalled the moment she noticed the “first-hand effects” of textile waste.

How could she – as a “shopaholic” herself – make a difference in the fourth most polluting industry in the world?

Eshita Kabra-Davies, founder of By Rotation

After spending six and a half years building a career in finance, Kabra-Davies realised she already had the skill set needed to answer that question.

It’s about “how to position the business to say that it’s not just a trend and it’s not just for fun. It’s not just about sustainability but the business actually makes great viable and fiscal sense,” she said.

But, as the former fund manager reflected back on the days of “easily” writing rather large checks for even larger companies, she said her outlook on money has changed.

“When it comes to your own money, and when it comes to running your own business without that big brand name, it’s so much more difficult,” Kabra-Davies said.

“Therefore it’s very, very important, given that we are in a cost of living crisis and just nearly avoiding recession, that we’re much more careful about how we spend our money as a business and as people.”

Indeed, the 32-year-old founder said raising the first million pounds was “more difficult than anything” she had to face during her career so far.

Where the ‘real wins’ come from

The stories Kabra-Davies hears from those within the By Rotation community are what she likes to call the “real wins” in business.

Whether users are using the extra cash to pay for childcare, save up for a mortgage, or even splurge on one extra cocktail on a night out – Kabra-Davies said the meaning behind By Rotation has now “gone beyond just making a bunch of money.”

“On the very, very difficult days – which obviously we have as founders – these are the stories that remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing with By Rotation.

“It’s actually become a part of people’s everyday lives,” she added.

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