Victoria Prew is on a mission to disrupt the fashion industry. The CEO of Hurr was just 25 when she co-founded the wardrobe rental platform that has been dubbed the “Airbnb of fashion”. Determined to be at the forefront of a big business, Prew also knew she wanted to build a tech company within the sharing-economy space and quickly identified an issue with fashion’s linear production model.

“The more I looked into fashion, the more convinced I became that the way we consume – buy something, use it, chuck it away – is fundamentally flawed,” she says. “I’m a millennial. I didn’t own houses or cars and I didn’t want to own clothes. Anyone with very limited storage space doesn’t need things they’re only going to wear once.”

Hurr – a riff on the Afrikaans word huur, meaning “rent” (Prew’s co-founder, Matthew Geleta, is South African) – offers luxury peer-to-peer rentals alongside stock available directly from more than 130 exclusive brand part­ners, including John Lewis, Matches, Flannels and Selfridges. There are over 60,000 units across the

platform. Last year, the company became the world’s first fashion-rental platform to achieve B Corp status, an acknowledgment of its adherence to rigorous standards for environmental performance.

Just as important as securing those coveted green credentials, says Prew, was empowering women to make money from their wardrobe.

“I’ve always had a side hustle and loved the idea of multiple income streams. Our top lender last year made £55,000 from renting out her wardrobe. We have women who have paid for IVF from selling through us and lots of professional lenders who do this as their full-time job. I feel super proud of that.”


It’s one of her many recent achievements. Nabbing a spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2021 is another. Not bad, when you consider she set up shop just four years ago and spent half that time scaling the company during the pandemic. She puts her success down to a single-minded pursuit of her goals.

“My vision for Hurr is the same today as it was when we started. We have a huge amount of work ahead of us, but I think what I’ve been good at is being laser-focused on where I want to take the business. It’s my role to look at 100 opportunities and work out which two are going to move the dial for us.”

She should add unwavering self-belief to her list of attributes – the day after she came up with the idea for Hurr, Prew quit her job as a chartered surveyor and got straight to work, building code from scratch. A year later, Hurr was up and running, and making waves in the fashion industry – until Covid hit.

“We launched a Selfridges pop-up two weeks before the first lockdown. In the first week, we rented every single dress off the shop floor. It was a huge success. The week after that, the world went into lockdown. Normally, when you start or scale a business, there’s always someone you can call who will know the answer. I’d surrounded myself with people who had made mistakes, so I didn’t have to make them, and that was the first time that even the most brilliant minds didn’t know what to do and you had to go with your instincts.”

Prew didn’t spend lockdown Insta­gramming banana bread. She often worked through the night, confident that on the other side the demand for sustainability in fashion would be there.

“There’s probably never been a more challenging four years to launch a company. We had millions of pounds of revenue that, overnight, went to zero,” she says. “We’ve had interest rates go up, and inflation. But I always knew that Hurr was going to be a big business in the future. Gen Z were only ever going to care more about sustainability, CEOs were only ever going to be under more pressure, so I have never doubted that the business we’re building has been the right business.”

Why, then, the move into real estate after graduating? Prew admits she succumbed to parental pressure to continue her studies and do a master’s degree. “I often joke that if we’d started Hurr five years earlier, we’d be a billion dollar business right now.”

"I always knew that Hurr was going to be a big business in the future. Gen Z were only ever going to care more about sustainability..." - Victoria Prew, CEO, Hurr


Prew might not be there just yet, but she’s taking Hurr in the right direction. The company is one of the few female-run businesses in the UK to have raised venture capital. That’s some feat: in 2021, women-led start-ups received only 2 per cent of VC funding.

“I’ve been through the process multiple rounds and it’s incredibly stressful. Being a founder is one thing; being a venture-backed founder is another,” Prew admits.

Luckily, she has several mentors at hand: “Women I hugely admire that are a few steps ahead of me on this journey and who I call all day, every day for advice on everything from raising VC to the HR side of things.” These include Michelle Kennedy, founder and CEO of health and wellbeing app Peanut; Sharmadean Reid, founder of The Stack World, a network for female entrepreneurs; and Tessa Clarke of Olio, a sharing app aimed at reducing waste.

Prew also credits her 40-strong team with taking Hurr from humble start-up to game changer in fashion’s rental revolution. “I often get to take the credit as founder, but all of the hard work is done by the people sitting there, building the vision every day.”

She takes the pastoral side of her role seriously, recognising that a company’s culture is defined by its leader. She insists on her staff leaving the office at lunchtime, even if it’s just for a walk around the nearest green space.

“I’ve suffered from burnout. When I started, I thought building a company was a sprint, not a marathon. I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s the other way round. I have a rule I live by and try to instil in the team, which is ‘80 per cent is good enough’. My first CEO went for a run every lunchtime. If the CEO has time to do that, then that sets the tone and shows graduates what’s acceptable and what isn’t. We work hard at Hurr, but we play hard, too.”

"I love any activity where I’m not on my phone; with driving you have to be fully present in the moment. It makes me feel calm." - Victoria Prew, CEO, Hurr

Of course, when you’re at the helm of a business designed to shake up an entire industry, downtime isn’t something that’s readily available. Which is why Prew makes sure it’s in the diary. She schedules everything, from yoga in the evenings to watching her favourite TV show. “I’m a big believer in time blocking. It’s the only way to manage the constant pressure I’m under.”

Daily exercise is critical to keeping her stress levels down – Prew will often walk or run to work – but driving also helps her switch off. “I love any activity where I’m not on my phone; with driving you have to be fully present in the moment. It makes me feel calm.”

Prew drives an electric vehicle where possible, and recently tried out the new, all-electric BMW i5. “Driving it, I feel calm but powerful,” she says. “I dare you to try the i5 for a week and witness its comfort and performance – you’ll never go back! As a tech CEO, for me it perfectly balances cutting-edge technology with impeccable design.”

For Prew, the secret to success and longevity in business is also about maintaining the right balance. This involves staying curious and remaining unafraid to challenge the status quo, to nudge people out of their comfort zone.

I’m most fascinated by behaviour change – how you get someone to do something for the first time. Ten years ago, it was a new concept to rent a stranger’s house online and now Airbnb might be your go-to. We’ve seen that shift in fashion, where people go to Hurr to see if they can rent something before buying it, for that one-off occasion.”

So what’s next for this trailblazer? “We’re building what will be the global home for circular fashion. I won’t sleep until every fashion brand on my hit list is trialling rentals through Hurr.”