Just like Rent the Runway’s co-founders, there are a ton of women who have leapt into the uncharted, often-insane world of entrepreneurship. We’re inviting these risk-takers to be part of a community we’re calling The Real Runway: a collection of voices to motivate and inspire your own runway, whatever that may be.
It all started with... downtime.
We all promise ourselves that we’ll take advantage of our free time. Then three hours into a Netflix rabbit hole, it’s time for bed. Linsey Rosen, on the other hand, used her downtime to pursue her dream of being a creator. She turned a side project into a full-time job, co-founding INDO with artist Crystal Hodges. For seven years, the two turned their dumpster-diving treasures into art installations that filled store windows across Chicago (including Rent the Runway’s store). After INDO came to an end, Linsey chose to go out on her own as an independent artist.
What was your “Aha!” moment?
At my last nine-to-five job, they encouraged us to make the most of our downtime and explore our hobbies. I really took advantage of that and think it’s what pulled me into working for myself. Because I viewed downtime as this positive experience where I got to be independent, downtime today isn’t as scary. A lot of entrepreneurs freak out when there’s a lull in work — it was scary to Crystal and me at first. But now I know how to sustain my energy.
How did you make the decision to go out on your own?
Crystal and I learned a lot together and we taught each other a lot. When we started, we did everything together and really relied on each other. It was nice to always have another perspective, but I got to a point where I realized — I can totally do this on my own. Now I’m in this position where I’m building my own business from scratch and I’m not rushing the process. I’m taking the time to explore, and it’s liberating to be able to grow organically in a way that makes sense for me.
I have no limitations anymore.
Is it lonely working for yourself?
Sometimes I miss collaborating and having an immediate second opinion. But I have a new space that I’m working out of called “Idle Hour.” It will be me and a few other women. We all do different things, but will be able to bond through downtime spent together in that shared space. It will be a different type of support system, and I’m really excited about it.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned thus far?
I’ve learned to be more confident and not bend over backwards for people all the time. I’ve had times when perhaps a client didn’t like a design that I put a lot of time and work into. So I’ve learned to be super transparent and work with my clients, so I don’t get trampled over and feel deflated.
You have to protect yourself and be comfortable in saying 'No.'
What is it like being a female founder?
It felt limiting when I was younger. Crystal and I were 25 when we started and looked a lot younger than we were, so it was hard for us to be taken seriously. We had to dig deep to feel confident and trust our own expertise in order for others to trust us. Now that I have a body of work to prove what I can do, running my business feels empowering.
Ring, Nineteen Pieces
How does style come into play as an artist?
My style is driven by the people who design and make the clothes I pick. That really excites me and gets me to invest in a piece. I love being connected to people through clothing.
What’s the payoff from going out on your own?
Crystal and I had a shared vision and a shared aesthetic — that’s why it worked so well. But I have always wanted to be able to control my workload, be able to work through details on my own, and be selective about the projects that I take on. I’ve worked so hard to get to this position and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.