Birdie is a 35-year-old lawyer with a couple of kids, living in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. She takes care of everybody around her and when she comes home, she puts her slippers on and has a martini.
Birdie’s not real but symbolic of San Francisco slipper company Birdies’ target demographic. She’s classic, chic and just helped the firm pull in a $2 million seed round.
The capital brings the company out of beta, a state it’s been in for the past year and a half, with Birdies now ready to make a bigger splash in the market.
“We really want to focus on building the brand,” said cofounder and chief executive officer Bianca Gates. “The brand is about the home. It’s about entertaining. It’s about looking and feeling great and so we feel like we have a lot of work to do to build that brand proposition with customers.”
Gates, a former executive at Facebook, founded the company with president Marisa Sharkey, who has also worked at Ross Stores and Bain.
To further push the brand out to the market, Birdies is set to open a flagship as early as October of this year on Union Street in San Francisco. The 1,500-square-foot space will be accompanied by another 1,500 square feet of office space. The property will look like a home inside and out in keeping with the brand and a product aimed at helping wearers maintain a sense of style within their homes.
“The idea’s not to go retail,” Gates said. “We want to focus on e-commerce but we do believe having a flagship where people can come in and get a sense of the brand is incredibly valuable.”
Birdies does have a small wholesale business, but its growth is not a main focus of the business, at least in the near term, the founders said. Selling at other retailers largely grew out of requests to carry the slippers with the company taking on accounts where it has made sense. That includes Anthem Home in San Francisco and Kicks in Menlo Park.
“We’ve been able to respond opportunistically to some high-end boutiques,” Sharkey said, adding that by the fall, the brand will be in at most eight to 10 stores.
As for category expansion, it’s likely, according to Gates, who declined to provide further detail on that front.
“Right now we are really focused on the slipper market because we think it’s a huge opportunity,” she said. “It’s been a sleepy area forever. There’s been no real effort in rethinking the slipper category. We want to be the slipper for the active woman.”