Meet the clothing rental startup changing Charlotte’s fashion scene

Meet the clothing rental startup changing Charlotte’s fashion scene

Ponybox founder Hellen Moffitt. Photo: Hannah Lozano/courtesy of Hellen Moffitt

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Hellen Moffitt’s frustration with shopping led her to create Ponybox, a Charlotte-based clothing rental service offering same-day delivery.

The Virginia native and now Plaza Midwood resident always wanted to start her own business, and now it’s her full-time job.

  • “My overall goal is to make it easy, affordable, and accessible to everyone,” Moffitt told me.

Driving the news: Ponybox is one of 15 NC IDEA MICRO grant recipients, with each receiving $10,000. Six of them are Charlotte-based, including a recruitment platform designed to find diverse talent called BLK Resumes and a real estate crowdfunding tool called Secure Living.

Moffit plans to use the grant for a downpayment on a fuel-efficient vehicle, which she said would be fun, and is considering painting it pink for marketing purposes. She’s also looking for a centrally located warehouse space.

  • Everything has been done out of her home thus far, and as her business grows, she’s running out of room at home.
  • The goal is to move into a centrally located warehouse within 10 minutes of Uptown in the next two months.
  • She envisions using the warehouse as a space people can come try on clothes before they rent them, while also making Ponybox available to people who live outside of the delivery area.

Photo by Amy Witt Photography/courtesy of Hellen Moffitt

How it works: Ponybox customers build their box from the online store, and then it’s delivered to them.

  • You can select same-day delivery or schedule delivery up to a week in advance.
  • Plus you have the option to buy anything you want from your box. Just keep it, and Ponybox will charge you the difference.
  • Ponybox offers new and secondhand items. The latter you’ll find in their neighborhood collection, which currently features clothes inspired by NoDa and Plaza Midwood.

Why it matters: Moffitt left her full-time job as manager of strategy & analytics at E15 Group earlier this month to focus on Ponybox. She’s one of the millions of Americans to quit their job and become full-time entrepreneurs, but she’s still an instructor at CycleBar in Midtown.

By the numbers: 32% of Americans who quit their jobs are becoming entrepreneurs, per a 2021 survey by Digital, a Seattle-based review site, which focuses on small businesses.

  • The survey also showed that 60% of new entrepreneurs used lockdown to learn about starting and running a business. Moffitt, a former professional swimmer, was one of them.

Flashback: She began working on Ponybox in summer 2020, because she had more free time amid the pandemic. Ponybox launched that fall.

  • The original name was Ponypackage. It was intended to help people return online shopping orders, but she decided it wasn’t a good business model.
  • However, she already had the name Pony in there, a reference to an express mail service in the 1860s called Pony Express.
  • Box came into play because everything comes in a cute little box, and thus, Ponybox was born.

What they’re saying: “I always wanted to wear really fun and colorful pieces, but I didn’t really want to buy them; one just because of the cost and two, it just felt kind of wasteful accumulating things I would only wear once,” Moffitt said. “Then I tried other clothing rental services and I liked them, but I didn’t really like the subscription and they weren’t totally my style, and I wanted something that was a little more convenient.”

What’s next: Ponybox will launch a Dilworth collection in mid-May.

  • Moffitt hopes to expand to Raleigh within the next year, and then eventually branch out to other mid-size cities.
  • She also might expand her collection to men’s clothing, depending on the demand.

Photo: Hannah Lozano/courtesy of Hellen Moffitt

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