Bringing Tech to the Bridesmaid Business
BYU master of information systems management student Jeremy Penrod might have picked dentist or inventor if you’d asked him as a child what he wanted to be when he grew up. Of all the possible answers, he’s certain about at least one thing: he never imagined a career selling dresses.
“Not in a million years!” Penrod says laughing. “But I really enjoy using web technologies and information systems to solve problems, and online apparel search leaves a lot to be desired.”
The venture—which helps users filter through dresses from across the Internet according to colors, hues, sleeve lengths, stores, and so on—stemmed from a bad experience Penrod’s wife had while she was looking for bridesmaid dresses. Though she initially wanted a slate blue and coral themed wedding, she settled for pink and blue since she couldn’t find similar dresses in the range of sizes she needed for her bridesmaids. The experience left her in tears.
“I was shocked she couldn’t find what she was looking for with all the options available online,” Penrod says. “We did some research and discovered that online sales of bridesmaid dresses alone were a half-billion dollar market. We decided we had a shot at a successful business if we could become the tool to help people find these dresses.”
The hunch was right. Thousands of visitors use the site each month, and online retailers are flocking to the search engine. In its first few months of operation, TheDressSpot.com had a catalog of nearly six thousand dresses from a small group of online retailers. The company now pulls product listings for more than twenty-five thousand dresses, and its group of retailers has grown to include Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Dillard’s.
To keep up with all the business, TheDressSpot.com now employs several BYU students. Craig Nordstrom, who served as best man at Penrod’s wedding, manages operations as a full-time partner. Michelle Drennan is the content marketing lead, and Sarah Shepherd is head of the company’s public relations. Several writers and interns round out the team.
“We’re evolving the user experience, creating something more powerful than consumers have enjoyed before,” Penrod says. “We’re excited about our next steps.”