Erin Kleinberg is on a mission to own your bathroom.
After years of running her own branding agency, Métier Creative, of which she remains at the helm, The Coveteur cofounder is using that acumen to shine a light on her newest, most personal project yet: Loungewear brand Sidia, which she founded at the onset of the pandemic.
The new line is a natural progression for the Toronto-based Kleinberg, who started her fashion career as an intern at then-WWD sister publication W before launching an eponymous brand that was sold at department stores like Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Lane Crawford and Saks Fifth Avenue. She went on to co-found The Coveteur in 2011. The fashion and beauty site is best known for offering exclusive peeks into some of the world’s most enviable closets.
“The Coveteur allowed me and afforded me the opportunity to be in 500 peoples’ homes and to become a bit of a sociologist of style — understanding where they come from, how they live, how they create ambience and hygge [the Scandinavian art of being cozy] — I’m obsessed with comfort,” she said.
That sartorial anthropology fueled the founding of Métier with former-Coveteur managing editor Stacie Brockman in 2015. “I started Métier Creative, which is an ad agency that really focuses on building brands from total scratch and helping brands build to [working with brands that are] super large,” Kleinberg said. “We helped Jen [Atkin] build Ouai hair care, all the way to working with Chanel beauty.”
Fast forward five years and, like for so many people around the world, spring 2020 proved to be an inflection point for Kleinberg. “My grandmother [named Sidia] passed away in March 2020. She had a long battle of stomach cancer and she was my ultimate matriarch. She was an immigrant to this country, a Holocaust survivor and everything that I know is from her.”
As a way to honor her stylish grandmother, Kleinberg began producing caftans in her name — something that consumers clamored for as they were suddenly forced to stay inside their homes. “I decided to start the brand with these beautiful caftans, super versatile and unique and so cozy and comfortable,” she explained. “You can wear them to bed and you can even wear them to a wedding. At the height of the pandemic, it made a lot of sense. People wanted these caftans — we had women buying like eight caftans, all the way to investing in my companies. It has been really amazing to foster a community in that way.”
Sidia began with an inclusivity message that remains at its core today, the founder says. “I have a real body and I obviously want to fit into [Sidia’s offerings]. I think it’s really important to show different bodies, show different people, different backgrounds, different ethnicities. For us, a huge focus is making sure that we can be as inclusive as possible. Can we be more inclusive? Absolutely. We wish we could offer more sizing. We’re still getting there.”
Fueled by early success, Kleinberg went on to expand the line to two-piece lounge sets, but feedback indicated that her customer was looking for more than just clothing. “What was really cool was that the [direct messages on social media] I was having with our customers were all surrounding the idea of them wearing these pieces in their bathroom time — in their oasis — like, coming out of the shower while they’re getting ready,” she said. “And I found that to be really interesting because I am obsessed with my bathroom. I built my house around my bathroom, because to me, that’s where you spend the most time and I am a junkie — self admittedly, for sure — in the beauty space.”
Those insights spurred the launches of the brand’s Cloud Nine headband, a towel wrap and, mostly recently, a Sidia x EW.Pharmacy Candle collaboration (the two candles on offer in collaboration with the Tokyo-based florist are called Wired and Braless) — all intended to heighten the getting ready experience and turn your bathroom into a personal haven.
“So the progression is happening and we are migrating into more of a beauty focus, all rooted in this familial, generational wisdom — advice and strength that’s given to us by our matriarchs,” Kleinberg said of the evolution, and of taking inspiration and direction from conversations with other women. “Whether that’s a grandmother or whether that’s an aunt, a cousin, a friend. There’s just something about the power of that storytelling that travels through that provides me with hope day to day.”
This ethos extends to running a company successfully, which Kleinberg believes also starts at home. “It looks one way, but it’s so f–king hard in the background. It’s so hard. And obviously, there’s been a lot of heat on female founders in the last year. It’s getting up every day and knowing how I am going to make this team feel welcome and feel like their values can be shared here. For me, it’s first about my team. I want to impact my small village first, and work out the challenges with them, and then think about the broader picture.”
The entrepreneur is committed to maintaining this line of communication and support to create an ecosystem that reflects an optimistic future for the fashion industry. “I am very passionate. When I started, the journey was a bit lonely before Instagram, before everybody had a side hustle. And so I would just connect and connect with people. Part of the reason I became an entrepreneur is because I couldn’t get a job in Toronto, there’s so few fashion jobs,” she said. “So anyone coming out of university, I was, like, ‘I’ll sit with you.’ I’ll do these office hours and just talk to as many women as I can about how they are going to be in fashion in this city….My team always makes fun of me because I have so many hours a week that are talking to young people about what they should do. I always say if I had another job, I would be a guidance counselor.”
But like any good matriarch worthy of the title, Kleinberg trusts it’s about paying it forward at the end of the day. “A lot of people shared knowledge with me, so I’m really into sharing knowledge with other people.”
Sidia has several points of expansion on the horizon for this year in both the wellness and fashion spaces, as sales continue to grow despite a cautious return to pre-pandemic routines. “For me, having my grandmother as the pillar of this company, there’s no chance to fail.”