Jenn Hyman is the CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway. Before that she went to Harvard Business School (and Harvard for undergrad too, NBD). She’s writing a column for us that we’re calling Fashionpreneur. In it she’ll dole out advice and lessons learned on everything from raising funds, branding yourself, sales and generally managing a business. She’s also taking your questions.
For most of the country, ‘tis the season to take a vacation. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is reliably one of the most travelled weeks of the year and many offices fleetingly feel like ghost town central, prompting anyone who considered taking their two weeks in the summer (Greek islands! Amalfi!) to change course. Despite the upcoming vacation season, the American workforce is exhausted, overworked, and underpaid (yes, I’m kvetching a bit!) and often not entirely refreshed after that holiday vacation. It’s my belief that we all must learn how to REALLY take a vacation so that life isn’t just about a countdown between vacations.
Some lessons I've learned: • Take vacation at a time that makes sense for your company and your role so you can actually relax: December is by far the busiest month of the year for Rent the Runway and for most retailers. We need all hands on deck and everyone present. If a Rent the Runway employee were to take vacation in December, they would not be able to truly relax because there is too much they would continue to be responsible for at the office. This is not fun for you or your company. No one wants to email and pester you on a vacation (unless your boss is a total Scrooge and if so, reassess) but believe me, they will if you’re out of the office during a crunch period.
• Staycations do NOT equal vacations: I know the “staycation” has been pitched as the answer to our terrible economy but I promise you, it will not nourish you in the same way as getting out of town. A change of scenery is essential to recharge and re-energize you. Several of my very best ideas have come when I was away from the Rent the Runway office. For example, this summer in Ibiza I dreamt up the idea for Rent the Runway Moments – the ability for our customers to post real photos of themselves looking gorgeous in their rentals directly on RenttheRunway.com to keep the cycle of compliments going. (P.S. – the average RTR customer gets 12 compliments the night she rents the runway – AMAZING!). The idea came to be at Pacha, a nightclub I was at with my boyfriend Peter and friends, staring at a flurry of cameras and beautiful women posing. The whole world wants to feel like a celebrity, so why not let them.
• Limit email intake on a vacation to discreet times per day: I wish I could say I have these perfect vacations where I only check email once at a pre-ordained time I set with my team, but, this would be bull. I run a company and Rent the Runway keeps kicking whether I’m in Aspen or Maui. What I do is allow myself a few times per day that I will check and answer emails, and that’s it. For the rest of the time, I leave my iPhone/iPad/Macbook far, far away and I focus on spending real time with the people I’ve taken the vacation with. There is nothing less attractive than being on vacation with that guy who’s always and self-importantly checking his email. If this is you, stop. If this is your boyfriend, run!
• If your job is stressful, don’t make your vacation stressful too: Make time for lots of nothingness. Said another way, there’s always a time in life for hard core sightseeing – do it on your post college trek around Asia, once you’re retired, etc. If you’re like me, a vacation filled with museums and appointments and places to be would only be MORE stressful. I love sitting on a beach with a margarita, music and my man. I love not having a schedule and seeing where the day will take us. Take needed time to let your mind wander...
I hope this inspires you to REALLY take a vacation in 2012 because after all, we all deserve it!