How Hill House Home Managed Overwhelming Demand for Its Nap Dress During the Pandemic

Transparency with customers was key, founder and CEO Nell Diamond told Retail Brew.

Hill House Home had the kind of summer brands in the Before Times could only dream of: Its hero product, the nap dress, exploded in popularity. 

  • Hill House Home launched its nap dress last fall and trademarked it in January. But searches for “nap dress” hit an all-time high in July. 
  • Hill House Home sold through a four-month supply of nap dresses in one week when preorders opened for its summer drop, founder and CEO Nell Diamond told Retail Brew.
  • Most of the attention was organic: The brand’s marketing budget was only 5% of total sales and it didn’t have a PR team when demand spiked.

This isn’t a normal year. So Diamond told me how she  ~ navigated ~ surging popularity during challenging circumstances…while also 1) remaining a profitable business and 2) avoiding employee layoffs or furloughs.

Behind the seams

In some ways, Hill House Home was already built for apparelmageddon: The brand uses geographically diverse suppliers, meaning nap dress production never halted as the virus spread. But Diamond said the brand still had to make split-second adjustments to meet heightened demand.

Adapting with suppliers. Diamond’s team moved up payment terms for suppliers that needed it and created a staggered delivery timeline to meet demand. “We had some factories that had tons of canceled orders from their big suppliers,” said Diamond, “and suddenly us, the tiny client that they weren’t that excited about, we were increasing our orders.” 

Boosted web infrastructure. HHH upgraded its online storefront, the only place its nap dresses are sold via preorder, so customers could see their anticipated ship date. “That level of transparency is what gets people to believe in preorder,” Diamond said. 

Customers > everything else 

HHH’s biggest hiccups came from shipping bottlenecks. “We’d have boxes sitting on the tarmac at JFK for weeks,” Diamond said. 

So Diamond personally wrote a message to customers whose orders were delayed, offering an explanation and the option to cancel their orders, free of charge. “I don’t care if someone spent $1,000 or $75: They’ve given us a level of trust, and we owe them a clear explanation,” Diamond said.

Final result: Only 3% of customers affected by Hill House Home’s delayed shipment batches opted to cancel; I wasn’t one of them. 

Looking ahead…Hill House Home will expand its nap dress assortment into more colors and styles this fall. “It’s definitely a deeper assortment than we’ve ever had before,” Diamond said, “but we think the demand is there.” 

Via Morning Brew

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