Nap Dress maker Hill House Home opened a 1,300-square-foot shop at Rockefeller Center on Friday morning, in time for the busy Christmas season.
A line formed outside the door before the 10 a.m. opening, with many eager shoppers wearing the brand. Currently, Hill House Home has two brick-and-mortar stores, the first on Nantucket, which started as a pop-up and is now a permanent location. The brand also opened a small store on Bleecker Street in New York, which opened in 2017, but outgrew the space and closed in January 2020. Last December, the brand had a holiday pop-up for one month in SoHo.
Since launching in 2016 with bedding, Hill House Home has quickly expanded into ready-to-wear, accessories, children’s wear, and recently, shoes and outerwear. On deck for 2023 are new stores in Palm Beach; Charleston, South Carolina; and London, which will be around the same size at the Rockefeller Center unit.
Hill House Home, which is valued at over $150 million, raised $20.4 million in a Series B in September.
Nell Diamond, founder and chief executive officer of Hill House Home, said it’s important for the brand to expand in brick-and-mortar, and that Rockefeller Center was the right location for the newest store.
“I have been obsessed with Rockefeller Center for a very long time,” said Diamond, who grew up in London. “Rockefeller Center is such an iconic space and the heart of New York City. I live downtown and love that it’s a central part of Manhattan and attracts people from all areas of the city.”
Diamond said the foot traffic around Rockefeller Center provides “such an exciting opportunity for us to get people into the store to try on the clothes.
“I’ve been bullish on retail for the past year or so. After our store in Nantucket this summer, one of the biggest things that I’ve learned from that experience was how powerful it is for us to have actual people in the store trying on the fashion,” said Diamond.
During the Nantucket store’s peak, it had more than 1,000 visitors a day. “It was 75 percent new customers, and for us, that’s just an incredible opportunity and you don’t get anything like that online. It’s a much deeper connection with the customer,” she said.
Hill House Home took over the Rockefeller Center space at 60 West 50th Street, near Radio City Music Hall, that was previously occupied by Camper.
The entire store is devoted to fashion and accessories. “What we’ve found is the majority of customers really want to try on fashion. They’re looking to get the fit of the clothing and understand what it looks like on them. It’s really an opportunity to really see it on yourself, and that’s been the emphasis,” she said.
At Rockefeller Center, the offering is mostly women’s apparel, as well as kids’, and pajamas for all genders. It is rounded out by accessories such as shoes, jewelry and hair accessories. The store opens with the holiday collection.
The company’s Nap Dress became a viral sensation during the pandemic, and Hill House has continued to see “tremendous growth,” Diamond said. “We’ve had three consecutive years of 300 percent year-over-year growth,” she said.
She attributes that to an incredibly loyal customer base. Last year, the brand had its biggest year ever, though the marketing budget was less than 5 percent of their revenue. “That’s because customers are evangelists,” Diamond said.
“We’re really focused on fit and feel, and really making sure our customers feel good in our clothing,” she said. She said the brand is constantly trying to give shoppers exciting things, in the hopes they tell a friend.
The brand’s most popular ready-to-wear item is their dresses, which are known for their smocking, which is elasticated but holds its shape. “Anything that has elasticated smocking is called a Nap Dress. It’s really a misnomer. It means it’s comfortable enough to take a nap in, but it’s really a dress designed to wear all day,” Diamond said.
The dresses come in many different styles — some with sleeves, some with no sleeves, A-line, straight skirt — basically, a wide range of options for different tastes. The dresses, which have a feminine vibe, come in prints and neutrals, and retail for $150. They are offered in cotton poplin, a silky crepe fabric, a tartan flannel, lace and tulle.
Diamond said there’s only one pant in the line. “We’re very dress driven. That’s what people know us for. I personally think dresses are more comfortable than pants and I’m delighted to provide lots of different dress options,” said Diamond.
The outerwear is also popular, and often features prints from the brand’s print library. Fully technical puffer jackets also come in tartan.
“You can match your jacket to your dress and shoes,” Diamond said.
The company also makes jewelry, necklaces and hair accessories, and introduced knitwear. Products are manufactured in Portugal, Italy, Vietnam, China and Los Angeles.
Although Hill House Home has developed a cult following, Diamond said there’s no target customer or specific demographic the company is going after. “We run the gamut,” she said.
Diamond, who has an undergraduate degree from Princeton and an MBA from the Yale School of Management, and was previously was a fixed income analyst at Deutsche Bank, said she is “feeling really good going into the holiday season.”
“It’s been a great year. We’ve launched new categories, which has been an exciting way to show our aesthetic,” she said.
“We’re most excited about retail right now and the ability to get in front of people and allow them to see the product in real life,” she said.
Currently, 98 percent of Hill House’s business is done online. The U.S. is Hill House’s largest market, followed by the U.K. Key cities in the U.S. are Dallas, Chicago, Charleston and Palm Beach.
As far as opportunities for the brand for 2023, Diamond said retail is the biggest one. “We take the design seriously, we’re working with an amazing interior designer in New York to bring this space alive,” she said. The designer of the Rockefeller Center location is Cece Barfield Thompson, who also designed Hill House Home’s New York City office. Diamond said the new store features a print from the spring collection (Sherwood Forest print), and there’s “gorgeous millwork” that’s all around the space. There are two dressing rooms.
“It feels more like a home than a store. Our idea is to bring the comfort of home to the space,” she said.
Diamond said she prefers resort destinations for her shops. “These are places people visit on vacation, and it’s fun, celebratory, social shopping experience for our customer,” said Diamond. One of the largest demographics the brand saw on Nantucket were day trippers, and it was on their itinerary. “We want it to feel like a social and fun experience. That’s one of the ideas behind this resort-town strategy,” she said.