Interview: Parachute's Ariel Kaye on How to Pair Digital With Analog and Brick and Mortar
The luxury bedding and home goods Founder and CEO talks about partnerships, physical stores, and storytelling.
Welcome to Direct-to-Conversation, a recurring interview feature from DTC Magazine. These conversations highlight insights, advice, and innovation strategies from leading thinkers in the DTC, eCommerce, and retail space. Our most recent interview was with Abby Morgan, the co-founder and CMO of CUUP, the DTC personalized womenswear brand.
In this Direct-to-Conversation, we catch up with Ariel Kaye, the founder and CEO of Parachute, the DTC luxury bedding and home goods brand.
DTC Magazine: I'm curious about what inspired you to found Parachute? Can you describe the decision to no longer sleep on it?
Ariel Kaye: Before launching Parachute, I spent a decade working in advertising and brand development in New York. I was also a huge design enthusiast – I had an interior design blog, and I frequently helped my friends and family decorate their homes.
I was a super consumer of home goods, and when it came to bedding, I couldn’t find a single brand that was high quality, affordable or easy to buy. I also realized that no one had an association with brands when they bought their sheets. As someone who built brands in advertising, I recognized a true business opportunity – there was a serious void in the market. This is when I had my “aha” moment.
In 2014, I launched Parachute as an online-only, direct-to-consumer company focused on creating impeccable bedding products. We’ve since expanded our product offerings beyond the bedroom into many areas of the home, including bath, tabletop, nursery, gifts and decor.
In 2016 we opened our first brick-and-mortar store in Venice, Calif.; we now have ten store locations, with many more to come.
We consistently see high traffic and conversion rates following the delivery of our catalog.
DTC: I'm the recipient of a beautiful Parachute catalog, which I received in the mail this month and which made me want to take a nap in the desert. What drove the strategy to invest in this kind of old-school outreach?
AK: As a brand we are always looking for compelling ways to reach our customer and tell our story. Direct mail provides the perfect mechanism for us to do this.
Our beautiful imagery allows people to envision how they can incorporate Parachute into their homes instantly. We are able to showcase our assortment of products, share brand anecdotes, bring to life the most special details and our maker's stories. We consistently see high traffic and conversion rates following the delivery of our catalog. It has become an integral part of our marketing mix.
DTC: Speaking of IRL outreach, Parachute recently entered a partnership with Crate and Barrel. What advice would you give to a company thinking of or aspiring to this kind of relationship?
AK: My best advice is to work with like-minded partners who are also creating impact and building something people care about. I’ve been a long time customer of Crate and Barrel, my first experience buying furniture when I moved to my own apartment was at Crate and Barrel, and it left a lasting impression.
After meeting with their team, I immediately felt connected to how they think about their customers, brand and product quality. With a shared vision for experiential retail and responsibly-sourced home goods, I knew we could build something special together.
We offer many different touch points throughout the buying process for consumers to dig deeper into what makes Parachute special.
DTC: Bedding is something I think many consumers know painfully little about. (Or at least this one!) How do you explain the more technical aspects of Parachute's offerings?
AK: We always want to educate and inspire our customers so they feel confident in their purchases. We offer many different touch points throughout the buying process for consumers to dig deeper into what makes Parachute special.
On our website we share detailed product descriptions, care instructions as well as a variety of images. Our blog is chock full of useful information from finding the right fabric for your sleep style to interior decorating advice from top designers. We also have 10 store locations across the country where customers can touch and feel our products first-hand. Our store associates are incredible ambassadors for the brand and ready to answer any customer questions. In addition, we also offer styling consultation services via chat or video and a world-class customer service team all ready to share their knowledge about the brand.
DTC: Are there a few other digital natives/DTCs/start-ups whose approach to branding you admire?
AK: I love everything that Ritual is doing from their recyclable packaging to the easy way they breakdown health and wellness information.
I believe in the power of storytelling to build loyalty, share the brand ethos and share more about the makers who are creating the look and feel of your products.
DTC: What advice would you have for somebody who's interested in creating a product that relies so heavily on both look and feel?
AK: As a DTC brand, it’s important to develop a point of view and aesthetic that becomes synonymous with your brand. Our unfussy style and neutral color palette has become a trademark of our home essentials.
I also believe in the power of storytelling to build loyalty, share the brand ethos and share more about the makers who are creating the look and feel of your products. This is something that has been core to the Parachute brand from day one. We work with the world’s best artisans to craft thoughtfully-designed, responsibly-manufactured bedding and bath essentials, using only the highest quality materials. And we educate consumers so they can purchase with confidence.