NEW YORK — Direct-to-consumer children’s wear brand Monica + Andy is growing its offline footprint.
The three-year-old-company — named after Monica Royer, founder and chief executive officer, and kid brother Andy Dunn, founder of Bonobos and chairman of the board for Monica + Andy — this week opened its second guide shop. Located on the Upper West Side here at 410 Columbus Avenue, the 810-square-foot boutique is adjacent to Pure Barre and Scotch and Soda and is the former home of Alexis Bittar.
Royer has learned a thing or two from Dunn, who last week sold his eight-year-old men’s wear brand to Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for $310 million. She implemented Bonobos’ Guideshop retail concept into her business model almost from the inception of Monica + Andy, which launched an e-commerce site in spring 2014 at monicaandandy.com and opened a flagship guide shop in Chicago in July 2014. Most items in the collection — including newborn to toddler clothing and muslin blankets — range in price from about $20 to $70, with gift boxes that can go up to $250 to $1,000.
Instead of focusing on e-commerce first and trying bricks-and-mortar retail later — like many of the early direct-to-consumer companies, including Bonobos — Royer said she wanted to take a multichannel approach from the start.
With the help of a handful of investors — including Dunn, Cota Capital and Sam Yagan, current chief executive officer of Shoprunner and former ceo of Match.com — Royer is targeting additional physical retail expansion. The next guide shop will open in Los Angeles by the end of the year.
Online is still the most rapidly growing channel, she maintained, but building experiential retail environments is integral to the business.
“Experiential retail is the future. Getting people to ‘live’ in our space is key,” Royer said, citing the ability to have customers “watch their kids take their first steps” or hang out at the Chicago store’s milk and cookie bar as really helping “to elevate the brand to feel more like a friend.” For instance, the New York store will have live music and art classes, host baby showers and pilot one-on-one layette appointments (there is even a vignette on the wall themed with layette boxes).
The latter, Royer pointed out, is a new — and unexpected — channel of growth for Monica + Andy.
“We initially thought we would be a baby blanket brand…We started as a blanket plus baby’s one-piece destination, and what happened was I started seeing these outsized orders online anywhere between $500 to $1,000. It caught my eye, and I was like, ‘What are people buying?'” she said.
People were buying entire wardrobes for newborns, and Royer quickly learned that “baby’s first wardrobe” was a hole in the market. To meet this demand, she earlier this year launched a Baby’s First Layette category on the site and in-store, which contained bundle options ranging from $250 to $1,000. She’s taking this a step further with the introduction of the Luxe Deluxe Trunk this month, which contains every first clothing essential a baby would need.
“We feel we are pioneering a new category in baby. Shopping for your baby’s first wardrobe is a personal experience. New York City is our first space to really host one-on-one layette appointments and we will do this as we grow on a national level,” Royer said.