Rebekah Murray founded Virginia Dare Dress Company, where she designs beautiful dresses for the loveliest days. She is just a girl in search of beauty and adventure and likes to share it with others the best she can. She lives in Northern Virginia (just a bit outside Washington DC) and has been working towards creating her company for the past 3.5 years.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Just before the idea of the company came about, I was traveling a lot for my work (as a wedding and fashion photographer) and even multiple times around the UK, which for any girl who grew up on the Secret Garden is a gift beyond everything. Those trips were so wonderful and I noticed having the right clothes for them (dresses + cute boots, mostly) made me feel like I fully belonged inside it.
I’d always had a hard time finding clothes since I’m very tall and dresses are often so short, so I started off just wanting to have some made for myself since I knew what I wanted. I’m from a family of entrepreneurs and have learned so much from my parents and brothers, and it was my mom who had the idea to take it farther. I was wanting to move away from photography to something new and as I was discussing my search one evening she asked, “What if you started a clothing company?”
The timing was right and a few hours later I googled “How to start a fashion company”, which led me down a few thousand rabbit holes. The idea slowly gained momentum, and unfolded into the most tumultuous, difficult, and thrilling journey you can imagine. I started at the beginning with no idea how to design (or barely even draw!) or have clothes made to fit other people. It took three years, six weeks and three days from that first evening of the idea to receiving my first production order of hundreds of dresses. It’s hard to believe how much difficult work and miraculous help went into those years.
Tell us about your business.
I design and sell women’s dresses through my online store. I’m a part of the entire process from fabric and print selection, customer focus groups, design, fit, marketing, and customer service. I am constantly talking to women about what they’re looking for and trying to design with a purpose for wearable, beautiful clothes.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
15% off for all LadyBossBlogger readers! Use code LADYBOSSES.
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Online research. I found some great resources for learning the process of working in this industry. Lots of good books, blog posts, some online courses and even YouTube videos.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Word of mouth. I try to include a lot of people in the thought process + development and then those people have been very impactful to the business in sharing the company with their friends. We do a lot with social media and giveaways once in a while which helps bring in new followers.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Learning how to outsource things that I want to have a lot of control over. I have the habit of being very detailed (too detailed most times!) with how I like things to be, and there’s not enough time for me to do everything if I want the company to continue.
Also product-market fit is an ongoing puzzle to figure out and apply.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Time, trial and error, and listening to feedback with an open mind.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I try to give myself just one thing to accomplish in a day. Success fuels momentum so when there’s an overwhelming amount of things to do, focusing on just one and seeing it through gives more energy to continue than working a little bit at the fifty-seven things I think I should be working on.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Being more personal in all areas of the company. People are treated like a friend with Virginia Dare, that is something I don’t personally find with many companies.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
No matter what happens, don’t lose heart.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
No matter what happens, don’t lose heart. Mindset is the one thing we do have control over and it makes all the difference.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
- Amazon Prime
- Slack for messaging with my team
- Evernote for keeping track of thoughts/research on projects
- Buffer for Instagram scheduling
- Lots of notebooks and clipboards too for daily notes and projects
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
- Increase sales + referrals
- Updating website to be more interactive
- Starting a new try-at-home box service
- Launching a customer (“kindred”) program that I’m really excited about
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @vvirginiadaredressco, @rebekahjmurray
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/1054720947899384
Hashtags #virginiadaredressco #postcardstovirginia #vddcokindreds #journeytovddco
Photo credits: Tori Heer, Larue, Abigail Gallop, Made With Love