Two veterans of Diapers.com are betting a similar e-commerce model will work in the children’s clothing market.
Primary, the start-up brainchild of Christina Carbonell and Galyn Bernard, just closed an $8 million Series A round of venture capital funding, led by U.S. Venture Partners, which has also invested in Trunk Club and Hotel Tonight. Grace Beauty Capital, Homebrew, Harrison Metal Capital and other investors also participated in the round.
Carbonell and Bernard started Primary in 2015, after spending four years working together at Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com, which is now part of Amazon. “We just want to be able to shop for kids clothes the way you shop for diapers,” said Bernard, Primary’s chief executive officer.
Primary sells colorful, cotton children’s basics, including leggings, T-shirts and sweatshirts, online. The clothes are free from slogans and logos or other adornments, and focus instead on the color and texture of the materials used, Carbonell and Bernard said. “It’s like the Crayola of a kid’s closet,” said Bernard.
The business doesn’t discontinue styles, allowing parents to replenish pieces in the next size up as their children grow. Prices range from $6 to $24.
It’s a different business model than other market players, who are generally more focused on trend and fresh assortment. “All of them really are…bringing new styles all the time as a way to market,” said Bernard. “But it sort of left us, as busy parents, feeling like there was an opportunity to make this easier.”
Since it was founded, the company has doubled sales quarter-over-quarter, the founders said.
“We are taking on this huge, $30 billion kids clothing market in the U.S., which is highly fragmented but [has had] very little innovation in decades,” said Carbonell. “In our first year we’ve achieved proof of concept. The customer reaction has been incredible, and now from here, we’re really looking to scale the business to a very meaningful level.”
The investment will allow Primary to grow its staff, which already includes designer Patrick Robinson, who joined in late 2015 as head of design. Robinson runs his own line, Paskho, and has worked for the Gap, Giorgio Armani and Anne Klein.
Aside from adding employees, Primary is looking to focus on investing in marketing and heightened replenishment capabilities. Currently the brand’s advertising comes primarily through social media, especially Instagram and Facebook. Profitability is expected to come in the next few years, the founders said.
“By being online-only distribution, as well as by not doing trend, we avoid a lot of costs that other competitors have that let us really do two things – one is just offer better value to customers…we’re able to reinvest those savings in better prices…and get to a profitable business very quickly,” said Bernard. “We think this could be a billion-dollar business.”