The blanket of humidity that has enveloped much of the east coast this week has made the air-conditioned office life not such a bad place to be. But for some cubicle dwellers the indoor chill is only bearable to a point.
More than a century after the father of modern air-conditioning Willis H. Carrier finessed the first centrifugal refrigeration machine, Universal Standard has developed a way to fend off the freeze. The size-inclusive e-tailer has introduced an “AC Survival Collection” to highlight its versions of the perfect summer sweaters. New York City consumers who order one of the options before noon can have those essentials messengered to their desks by 5 p.m. at no extra cost.
The concept also provided a way to test same-day delivery, according to cofounder Alexandra Waldman. Estimating that 100 orders would be a good showing in New York City for Thursday’s sales, the response of nearly 300 orders was a welcome surprise. “We had thought, ‘If this works, maybe we will try it a few more times and make it a regular option for our customers,’” Waldman said.
Universal Standard now plans to continue the test, due to Thursday’s success. The brand’s suggestions include the Curve Cardi in black, teal or slate; the Meridian Zip Pullover in black or evening blue; the Corbelle Zip Pullover in black or evening blue or the Kanda Puffer. With the exception of the $230 puffer jacket (which sounds a little extreme for indoor summer desk attire), all of the other styles retail for $130. Free two-day shipping is offered to non-Manhattan shoppers.
As for the big-chill idea, Waldman said, “This is something that happens in our office. It just made so much sense because we’re always reaching to the racks to cuddle up in something, or to make ourselves presentable in one way or the other due to the cold in the middle of summer.”
With 32 employees in offices in New York and Seattle, the nearly three-year-old company is staffing up, “growing exponentially” and gearing up for new category introductions, she said. Regarding the speed of growth, Waldman said, “There’s no such thing as anticipating anything really when you’re a start-up. You just kind of put your head down, do your best and hope for the best. The acceleration has been quite remarkable. Of course we’re very grateful for everything that’s happening. It’s been a very interesting few years.”
Some of that gratitude is due to the $7 million in series A financing provided by such heavy hitters as Imaginary Ventures’ Natalie Massenet and Matches.com’s Tom and Ruth Chapman, Red Sea Ventures, Gwyneth Paltrow, the founders of Sweetgreen and SoulCycle, as well as others.