TLQ 1.1 | Ones to Watch

Ones to Watch | Fall 2019

BY Matt Kaden

KEY POINTS

  • “By normalizing that you don’t have to wear a string bikini, we’re allowing women to be comfortable in who they are. And then those values cross over into the other garment categories we are carrying.” – Lori Coulter, CEO & President, Summersalt
  • Per a recent Business of Fashion article, in its third year of business, Summersalt is at a $40 million run-rate, up from $5.6 million a year ago. According to data from PitchBook, Summersalt has raised a total of $8.1 million with Founders Fund leading its $6.1 million Series A in October 2018.
  • “If you look back, when was the last time a multi-brand national retailer was successfully launched? What matters is building a sustainable business that customers love.” – Ben Kaufman, Co-Founder & CEO
  • To date, Camp has raised $16.8M from RRE Ventures and Lerer Hippeau, with its most recent Series A round closing in June of this year. Additionally, Imaginary Ventures’ Nick Brown and Story’s Rachel Schectman sit on CAMP’s Board.

SUMMERSALT

You’ll be flipping for this next one to watch… Summersalt is a DTC travel-inspired women’s apparel brand most known for its $95 size-inclusive swimwear made for the many, not the few.

In a DTC world that feels dominated by founders that come from outside the industries that they’re attempting to disrupt, Co-Founder and CEO/President Lori Coulter designed and ran her eponymous swimwear brand for 10 years prior to Summersalt‘s 2017 launch. Lori partnered with Co-Founder and Chief Brand & Digital Officer, Reshma Chattaram Chamberlain, a digital branding, content creation, and marketing expert — slash serial entrepreneur — to help Summersalt amplify its message of joyfulness.

Image courtesy of Summersalt

Lori Coulter explained, “For our community, all of us felt a sense of childlike joy at the beach when we were young children, and that’s kind of been lost. From the very beginning, we set out to instill joy into her life…especially when she’s traveling. We tackle the most difficult and emotional garment (purchase) with a swimsuit — it’s really the most naked you’ll ever be in public. By normalizing that you don’t have to wear a string bikini, we’re allowing women to be comfortable in who they are. And then those values cross over into the other garment categories we are carrying.”

In addition to offering thoughtfully designed, well-fitting, high-end products at accessible prices, another competitive advantage the founders cite is that Summersalt manages all of its creative functions in-house, as opposed to using an outside agency. This gives the brand a truly authentic and independent voice to which consumers are responding in a big way. Per a recent Business of Fashion article, in its third year of business, Summersalt is at a $40 million run-rate, up from $5.6 million a year ago. According to data from PitchBook, Summersalt has raised a total of $8.1 million with Founders Fund leading its $6.1 million Series A in October 2018.

CAMP

Ben Kaufman was frustrated by the lack of kid-friendly activities to do with his toddler son in NYC. At the same time, Toys ‘R’ Us was in the midst of bankruptcy. The confluence of these seemingly disparate circumstances led the serial entrepreneur (founder of Mophie and Quirky) and then Buzzfeed CMO to create CAMP, a Family Experience Store™.

From learning to swim to winning Color War, many of us have fond childhood memories of camp – the amazement, the wonderment, and the feeling that anything is possible if you’re imagination allows it. CAMP turns that feeling into a reality for children and parents alike daily.

Launched in Manhattan’s Flatiron District in December 2018, this one to watch is expertly blending discovery, theater, and play into the example of what modern retailing ought to be. CAMP offers toys and other merchandise as part of their rotating themed experiences. Travel Camp was just in session, where kids could make Australian Ocean Slime, Rainforest Parrot Bracelets and a Mandela T-Shirt while “traveling” and learning about the world.

Image courtesy of CAMP

As of this writing – quite literally behind a magic door – Toy Lab Camp is now in session. The holiday theme invites families to shop and test products in an interactive “Fun Factory” setting featuring a Test Track, Surprise Room, Game Room, Character Lab, Santa’s Workshop. ToyLab aims to bring the play back to holiday shopping —  while allowing kids to decide what to put on their wish list.

Meanwhile, parents (and kids) can indulge at Canteen and Milk Bar, serving David Chang’s original classics plus an exclusive CAMP-themed sundae.

But do not mistake CAMP as just another retail as a service (RAAS) play. Core to this elevated retail experience is selling full-price high margin infant/toddler/kids toys and related merchandise. Add sponsorship, membership, ticket/event, and food & beverage revenues and you’ve got a highly scalable business opportunity. With four more stores set to open in the near term, Ben Kaufman is focused on doing just that, “If you look back, when was the last time a multi-brand national retailer was successfully launched? What matters is building a sustainable business that customers love.”

While Ben has been very public about the fact that Quirky raised “too much, too fast” and subsequently went bankrupt, many of those original investors are funding CAMP. To date, the company has raised $16.8M from RRE Ventures and Lerer Hippeau, with its most recent Series A round closing in June of this year. Additionally, Imaginary Ventures’ Nick Brown and Story’s Rachel Schectman sit on CAMP’s Board.

Matt Kaden is a Managing Director at MMG Advisors, a boutique investment banking & strategic advisory firm to the fashion, consumer & retail industries. Kaden has nearly 20 years of executive & strategic advisory expertise in the fashion & retail industries & is particularly adept at navigating the confluence of fashion & technology. Before joining MMG, Kaden co-founded Matter Strategic Advisors, focusing of growth & exit strategies for client companies, while facilitating strategic partnerships. Kaden is an advisor at The Lead, a member of The Expert Network of New York Fashion Tech Lab, & a mentor for both XRC Labs & The Ember Company. Additionally, Matt has been published in WWD, featured on the Fashion is Your Business Podcast & is a regular contributor to several industry trade publications.

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