After years of shopping for work clothes—and swapping them with her cousin—Singh launched Armoire, a high-end clothing rental service. She’s trying to help ease the stress professional women face buying a work wardrobe that won’t hang in the closet unworn. “We derive more value collectively if we share things,” says Singh, who lives in Seattle with her husband and their 17-month-old son. An Asian and Middle Eastern studies major, she hatched the idea for her company while earning an M.B.A. at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
“I wanted to start a business, and I spent a lot of time talking to women,” she says. “A thing that kept coming up was the closet. You know, it was where everyone started their day, and there was a lot of investment that went into it.” Women told her they spent too much time thinking about what to wear and felt burdened by the cost and wastefulness of owning clothes they didn’t want to wear anymore. “The most frequently repeated word about their closet was ‘guilty,’ ” Singh says.
She points out that the rental industry is still nascent and has much more room to grow. One customer says Armoire makes it possible for her to be more creative with her wardrobe and wear high-end styles she can’t afford. She also saves time on shopping. Another customer attended 10 weddings last year, including her own, and saved thousands of dollars by renting clothes from Armoire. Singh’s monthly subscriptions start at $79, with unlimited memberships at $249.
Armoire’s first customer was Singh’s MIT classmate Kristen McNelis Marchese, who rented a dress for her cousin’s wedding in 2016. McNelis Marchese joined her friend’s company in 2021 as chief marketing officer. “Ambika is passionate about making women’s lives easier and changing the way they dress,” she says.