Parachute Home's Ariel Kaye: 'We're not trying to be a sheets or towel company'

Kaye shares the story behind the brand and how it competes in the home industry.

What is the story of Parachute?
In 2012, I was ready to move on after 10 years in the ad agency world. When I looked at what companies I could join, everything was pretty "meh" for lack of a better word in terms of consumer experience.

I saw an opportunity to do something big in home industries, where I could merge my interests of building brands, consumer insights, creating compelling value-added content, and my love of home.

We identified the bedroom as a great space to start within the home category. Sleep is important and this brand borders on home, interior design, and wellness.

In March 2013, I visited 15 factories throughout Portugal and Italy to learn about textiles. I talked to anyone and everyone that had any experience in textiles and sent cold emails to people. Many seemed to be humoring the nice American girl that showed up on their doorstep and didn’t expect this to be a real business for them, or that we would have the volume we have today.

We launched with sheets, duvet covers, and pillow cases of two different fabrics and three colors in January 2014. Now, we’re introducing other categories to be part of their daily routines in other areas. We want a brand that has true loyalty and connects to today’s modern shopper.

How do you compete against companies such as Casper? What’s your value proposition?
As new competitors continue to enter the home category – and this happens with all categories – the traditional marketing and advertising channels become exhausted. You have to differentiate your brand, take bigger risks, and grow in ways that are unique yet authentic.

Parachute is unparalleled in the quality, design and comfort of our home essentials. We’re providing a fresh alternative to what had been around for ages – in every aspect of the business.

What are some of the most effective ways for you to communicate as a digital company?
We’ve grown our business through digital marketing channels and earned media. Early on we learned we’re a direct response brand. We’re not incentivizing customers with gimmicky accounts and we don’t discount. We depend on the story to build this company and drive home what differentiates us.

Also, we have a retail store in Venice, California, so people can touch and feel the product in person. We’re all about giving people a contextually relevant way to purchase these products.

What place do influencers have in that mix?
There’s no shortage of influencers out there, but we like to be selective. We want people focused on home and interior design, who can inspire our customers and introduce their following to our brand in a relevant way. But we’ve seen a shift from a fashion or beauty-only focus to one being based on lifestyle, which lends itself to our brand. Influencer assets and user-generated content bring our products to life in a way that is authentic and interesting.

I read you have an in-house analytics and media intelligence team. How do you stay close to your consumers?
Firstly, we listen. Having organized data is important, so we try to collect data across every touchpoint and make sure it’s actionable. We’re constantly analyzing what’s working and testing imagery, copy, and strategy.

I read about Parachute’s "hotels." How did that start? What does it offer the customer?
Opening our first store was a transformative moment. Being able to see the way people engage with our products first-hand had a great impact on the business. I’ve been really bullish on offline engagements and trying to be considerate of where customers are and having us engage with things differently. We’re not trying to be a sheets company or a towel company. We’re trying to be a lifestyle brand. It’s about having a more tactile, immersive experiential opportunity for people to get to know us in ways that aren’t overtly "selly." Depending on the week, day of the week, or weekend, the going rate starts at $650.

Do you have any plans to expand into the hospitality sector?
We are currently in about 17 hotels and we have our own hospitality line. We sell directly to a lot of boutique hotels. We have someone that works specifically on our team on those partnerships.

You recently launched a brand campaign. What’s the goal? What agencies supported this effort?
Some of our biggest competitors are based in New York, and we wanted to reinforce our presence in the city. New York is one of our largest markets in terms of sales and revenue. We have a product that clearly resonates with city dwellers, and it’s important to continue the conversation with our customers.

We released a series of ads on phone kiosks, taxi tops, and subway trains. We worked with Office of Baby to develop and execute the campaign. We knew they understood out-of-home marketing opportunities and could assist with not only the creative, but also the placement of the ads.

What’s next after this campaign ends?
It’s certainly not the end. We are going to apply this messaging to different mediums in New York and other cities across the States.

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