What happens when Meghan Markle wears your clothing? With HATCH Founder Ariane Goldman
Joining me on today’s episode is Ariane Goldman. Founder of HATCH.
HATCH is a contemporary lifestyle brand dedicated to chic clothing for before, during and after pregnancy. While pregnant in 2010, Ariane noticed a void in the maternity clothing market and it was at that moment the concept of HATCH was born.
The brand is designed to celebrate the many changes that a woman’s body experiences throughout their pregnancy, while making them feel as chic and beautiful as ever. In a natural expansion for the brand, HATCH Mama non-toxic beauty was launched in 2018 providing plant based self-care essentials for all mothers. The solution driven lines are crafted to carry women through pregnancy, and beyond.
In this episode we cover what learnings Ariane was able to take from her first venture into the second, how she got it off the ground and the moment that everything changed - when Megan Markle propelled the brand into the global spotlight after wearing a HATCH dress.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Hi, I'm Ariane Goldman, I'm the founder and CEO of Hatch Collection, which is a brand I created to really enable women to feel better about themselves during pregnancy. So we provide clothing and beauty solutions for pregnancy and beyond. Um and now with content, we're also trying to make ourselves a real home base and a hub for women looking for support and companionship during pregnancy. Amazing! I always love to get started by going back to your life before you started Hatch and I know that you've already built a successful business at that time.
00:04:19Edit Two birds, but I was wanting to know what was driving you to launch a second one and take the leap again. Yeah, well, it started when I was working in corporate America for the first nine years of my career, kind of climbing up this ladder and enjoying it and learning a lot about culture and organization and management, but wasn't necessarily fulfilling my creative dreams. And so it's at that point that I started my first brand as a side hustle called Two Birds, which is a bridesmaid's dress company um and started to do that on the side until the momentum picked up enough where I could quit my day job and actually focus on it completely. And that was a unique business model where I was creating dresses. Um they were by appointment, only appointments and I could um fulfill orders and and kind of get cash up front and then deliver the goods. So it was very low risk from a cash outlay in an inventory perspective, and it allowed me to generate enough money where I was profitable day after day, which was fantastic. So when I became pregnant with my first daughter charlie, I noticed that there was a void in the market for solutions and pieces for women to feel good about themselves and get dressed in the morning and feel like we're not ostracized from society.
00:05:27Edit And so, um I took some of the profits from my first business and said, let's do this again. Um let's, you know, pregnancy and maternity from a fashion standpoint might not be considered sexy, but the notion that there wasn't anything out there, you know, to offer women like myself was very sexy. So that void in the market is what I was actually really inspired by that, why aren't people talking to me when I'm willing to spend money for something that to me is kind of the moment that we all look for, you know, of what's not out there, and I said, well let me create it. And so um I let myself money from two birds and began to kind of really think through Hatch and how I wanted to start the brand and offer, what would my 1st 12 pieces be? And so I started with 12, keep basics that I thought most women would appreciate and need during their pregnancy, that allow them to feel good about themselves. And that's kind of how I kicked off the brand. Very cool, very cool. I'm wondering you said with your first business to birds that you were getting people to buy up front and then you would make it after. Did you take that same learning and that same model and bring it into the second business?
00:06:33Edit And did you also, you know, combine the two businesses into one. And I mean that more in terms of like, did you double up with your manufacturer and be like, okay, well, we already have this sorted out, we'll use this. And you know, my marketing team might also be able to Add this into their workload or did you create two separate teams? That's two questions, I'm sorry. No, it's a great question because for, for people starting out or building businesses, it's these early moments that are quite critical. And so with the first business, it was very homegrown, I knocked on the doors of the factories here in the garment center in new york city. My parents were entrepreneurs. So I always knew that it started with a question and everything can be answered and it's just a matter of just asking that question. And so, knowing that there was a garment district here, what does that mean? It meant that there were factories. So I literally walked up and down 39th street and um like kind of cold, cold and went into these factories and said, I have an idea, I have a dress, can someone help me make it? And I found my first um factory, Her name was Sherry. And um we sat down and I went next door to spandex warehouse and I got some fabric and it was literally that piecemeal of putting these dresses together.
00:07:40Edit And so that business model was amazing because in the bridal world, all you need are samples and then you kind of sell it into a bride and um you know, you're selling about five dresses, depending on how many bridesmaids she has in her bridal party to the person that you're marketing to. So you're getting a good return on that marketing because I'm talking to the bride and I'm selling her five dresses and there's no returns because once the wedding is over, they can't return the dresses. So it's a beautiful business model. And I got so confident in it that that's when I started Hatch, I thought, well what can I lend to this new business that I've learned from. Two birds and little did I know how bigger of a beast and what a different business model hatch was going to become. But of course at the beginning you share all resources. I was doubling up as head of customer service, head of marketing. I was, you know, I was literally, I had three different names for three different positions in the company where I was just playing different people so that I could see much larger than we were. And that's the beauty of growing something because you don't have enough money to hire and start a whole company on your own. You have, you know at least in my experience you have to start small and it's through desperation that you, you have to crack until you hire the next person and you just keep doing that until you have this team.
00:08:51Edit But you don't hire this team outright just because I didn't, I didn't raise any money to start the business like that. So I was piecemeal ng it day by day and just building the same brick by brick, wow, so exciting. I love that. And so You know, I want to go way back to the beginning, you know, 2010 I think you had the idea 2011, you were launching the brand when you were telling your friends and your network, was it kind of easily validated through them. What was the reaction of the people around you Again, the good news of going into a category that's not that sexy? Is that people understand and relate to the fact that nobody has done it right yet? Right? So maternity, even men know that it's just crap offering out there, or it has been over the years. And so, you know, I'm not humbled by the topic at hand. I'm inspired by the opportunity there. And so to go back to what I said earlier, I thought it was incredibly inspiring and sexy to take something that people didn't think was interesting and make it better. And so the maternity category has just always been something that people have, you know, left out of the conversation because at the time, um, media and press haven't celebrated a growing woman's body, unfortunately, that's changed over the years, especially with social media, but at the time, you know, vogue and a lot of the fashion publications as a woman's body was growing.
00:10:11Edit They wouldn't talk about you for those 10 months until your body bounced back, and I just thought, well, this doesn't make sense. My body is about to go through the most amazing exploration. I'm still going out. I'm feeling sexy and great. I want to buy a new dress that's going to celebrate that. Why can't I find it? And that's really um, and, and most people understood that, um that that there was a void as well. So, my friends, my supporters, just people out there understood that there was a void. I think the real challenge was? well, okay, why is a girl like me going to go out and like kind of fix the issue, Um, or how am I going to do that? And um, you know, I think 10 years later I can tell you it's been through grit and hustle and pain and celebration. Um, to kind of have people jump on ships saying that it's okay to celebrate, You know, a moment in time. That's fleeting. That's really special. And invest in yourself. Mm And as you're talking something that just came to my mind, which maybe it wasn't intentional and and maybe, you know, came to light afterwards, is that you're essentially targeting women at that next stage after they get married.
00:11:14Edit So you have the customer from two birds who you've been speaking to up into the lead up of her wedding and then you've moved along into that next big milestone of her life, which is so cool. Is that something that you were able to build into the marketing? I don't know what the terminology would be like the flow of your business. Yeah, I mean, in theory, first and foremost, when I've been creating these brands, I've been speaking to consumers going through life like situations that I've been going through, I think when you have an idea or you're starting something being that consumer and putting your yourself in those shoes, that the person you want to serve is incredibly helpful to understand the needs and how to market to them. So going through these life experiences and feeling these voids myself made me that much more passionate for understanding what the problem has been. And so it's allowed me to kind of go through the life cycle and say, oh this is needed here and this is needed here. And yes, using the two birds, kind of um, you know, bridal list my customers and my database and then kind of following them through their life journey into parenthood was definitely an advantage these days.
00:12:20Edit It's very different. Hatch has become much more, you know, at the time when I launched, Hatch paid acquisition wasn't as big as it is today. So Warby parker and a bunch of these, you know, fundamental dtc brands were just emerging the same time the Hatch was. But um, they, you know, a lot of brands at the time you have to, I was marketing more on a grassroots level because I didn't have the money to put into facebook and google to kind of digitally acquire these customers, which can be very expensive. So from my perspective, building a brand was about creating really good product and getting it in the hands of women who could only pay it forward and share, you know, and really share that. So, my marketing strategy when I launched was a gifting strategy and a pr strategy to get it into celebrities hands and to really kind of go out in the community and do trunk shows across the country to get this product and let people know that there was a brand that was evolving, we did not have a lot of money to, you know, to spend. And at the time again, digital ad strategies weren't as big of a driving force as they are today over the years.
00:13:22Edit That's changed. Yeah, of course, I I read that you've had some really amazing celebrities who have supported the brand along the lines of Meghan Markle, Khloe Kardashian Miranda ca I'm jumping ahead of myself a little bit here because I want to stay on the that early time of marketing, but but just to skip forward for a second, how did you get, you know, on the radar of these women who are obviously just so incredible to have, have worn the brand. I mean, again, there's not that many people who've gone against the curve to kind of solve the issue of how are you going to look great during pregnancy? And so stylists have really come to the brand to solicit products for their clients and really just said, you know, give us Miranda Kerr is going on, you know, jay Leno or, you know, doing a publicity stunt, what can you do, what can you give us to dress her? And so having relationships like that, or working with pr um the old fashioned way has been incredibly important and they've come to us in the case of Meghan Markle, which was such a huge, gigantic moment for the brand, you know, you can't gift loyal families, so that was pure luck, and that was a big ah ha moment that um hash has actually made it somehow, because I woke up on like every other morning um to all my friends in europe, kind of texting me saying oh my God, Megan's and Hatch, but I had no idea that it was coming, So that was a huge, huge surprise.
00:14:42Edit So her stylist must have pulled the dress for her, but unknown to us, Oh my God, that is so cool, wow, what a major moment for you and the brand overall, That's so cool, I want to get back in and dig a little deeper into those early times of, you know, launching the brand and starting to get the word out there and spread that word of mouth. Um moment I read that in the first four months of your brand, you were having a bit of a tricky time and you weren't sure about like whether the brand was going to take off, and then there was sort of a turning point for you, what was that turning point, and what were the kinds of, you know, day to day activities that you were doing to get that message out there. So, um as I mentioned earlier, I let myself money from the first business to fund the beginning of Hatch and and Hatch really what you need to start the business was a website which could be probably you know on a bare bones, 30 to $50,000 to do it the right way I think. I mean that was then, so today it might be easier because there are solutions in a box, but we needed the website, I needed samples, you need to launch with inventory just because it is direct to consumer, there's no wait time for the customers so you need to have that.
00:15:54Edit Um, and then materials. So the first thing, you know things like business cards and asset creation, all these things cost money. So um I had spoken to my husband max and we had made the decision that I really believed in this void in the market and that we were gonna um take some of the money from two birds and put it into Hatch and start this endeavor. And we built this beautiful website. We, we I launched it um and nobody came, I launched this beautiful thing and you know you believe that once it's out there everybody is gonna come and nobody came for the first few months and I was petrified and I just remember my husband and I were in India and I said to him, you know max I think I made a tremendous mistake um we built, you know I built this beautiful thing but nobody has come to it, maybe I was wrong and people don't need this and um literally the next day during our travels, I got an inbound email from the new york times style writer saying that she heard that I had been coming, that I was, that I came out with Hatch and she, she had seen the website and she wanted to write something about it for the new york times and you know, the new york times isn't necessarily a revenue builder, but it's definitely a credibility builder.
00:17:02Edit And so the article came out a few weeks later and it just started to kind of be the catalyst, the marketplace just started to shift and people started coming and I started to gain traction and more press and I was just, it just moves the needle a little bit at a time where I thought I was going to quit and I'm so grateful that I had the patients. Um, and the luck that she happened to kind of connect at that time. But you know, the lesson I learned there was to have patients and to do everything to do something every day that drives awareness because you never know where that opportunity is and you've got to keep pushing, pushing, pushing because I don't even know how the new york times writer found out about Hatch, but I got to imagine that it's some part of the hustle and the day to day that got her there, that led to the first article that led to the first stylist coming. It all is a domino effect and you might not ever be able to trace back the steps, but, but you've got to keep going and make sure that you're doing something every day that's driving this brand totally speak to anyone who will listen shout about it from the rooftops, put one ft in front of the other.
00:18:03Edit I totally agree. So obviously that's, you know, 10 years ago now things have grown significantly. You've, you've got a lot to cover in 10 years there. What do you think was the kind of tipping point in the brand and what's been working for you in terms of driving new acquisition? So I think the tipping point was a lot of it was partnerships. I needed to leverage other brands who had following over the years to really, um, introduce Hatch to people that I couldn't get to because I wasn't paying to acquire customers digitally. So, um, I was doing trunk shows in Atlanta and philadelphia and California and partnering with local, um, you know, the like minded store in these markets or the influencer or the mom blogger in these areas that could connect me and introduced me to their world and allowed that, you know, they were paying it forward by introducing me to their networks and I really believe in the grassroots of like starting from ground up, getting your brand out there and I was traveling all the time with a young baby, Um, just telling people about hatch and kind of building this kind of cult following on the ground.
00:19:15Edit Um, and then over the years as the revenue was coming in, um, I didn't raise money until year six, so I bootstrapped the brand for the first six years and then we raised $5 million dollars to really step on the gas. Over the years, we started to put more and more money into a paid acquisition strategy while I was still doing kind of the bottom ground work of going on trunk show and kind of meeting with people and doing partnerships. And so my marketing strategy has been to build a brand purely from the ground up on what people need and what they're looking for and getting it on people in different markets and going to these markets and meeting these customers and then the paid acquisition on the top. So that strategy, so that fundamentally you're acquiring people be the internet in crevices of the world that I could never reach. I'm meeting people on the ground and getting to know them telling them more about the brand, letting them touch and feel the product and then hopefully everything meets in the middle and boom. You have this kind of moment where the brand becomes bigger, you know, than, you know, it just gets on track to kind of really being a brand that's, that's not about an individual hustle.
00:20:19Edit Um, it just becomes a household name. So we're still doing that. We're certainly not there yet, but I'm so proud of the fact that it's the groundwork and now paying for acquisition on the top. Um that's really allowing this brand to kind of have a much bigger presence than I ever imagined. Mm totally. And I imagine that on the ground presence and those trunk shows and speaking to people face to face is what then drives demand for, you know, people to be like, can you open a store here or like we need to have this store in this pop up or in this we need to have a section of the brand in the store partnering with this pop up. Yeah, I mean by the way, their individual focus groups, when you're meeting with customers, you you have to use them as kind of education of how is this product, what more do you want? And I mean it's it's the most quintessential education you can get on your product by kind of pulling the audience and working directly with them because that influences new product development, it influences where you should be, if you're ever going to go into a retail strategy.
00:21:22Edit Um you can ask people how they heard of you because that can then kind of guide you into where you're spending your dollars into, you know, whether it's going to be podcast or if it's going to be facebook or if it's on instagram to really understand how they're getting to know about you because it's just filled with surprises, What you think, you know is often not really what reality is. So asking people questions is always key. I think that's been, you know, the guiding light here is just never being afraid to ask questions and ask for help as well. Yeah, that's such a great tip and that's so interesting because of course you you might not have any idea where that person has heard about you and you can double down on those efforts totally, wow. Great. So where is the business today? And what does the future look like? Uh so the business today, let's see. Um well coming through the pandemic, it's been definitely um it's been a tough year. Um I'd say more from a leadership standpoint of just having to manage my people and making sure that 45 of my employees are feeling safe and supported. Um a lot of my team has moved to different cities and we're still managing to grow the business despite the, you know, the pandemic.
00:22:34Edit Um and I've been so surprised the efficiency of managing a virtual organization. I never, in my right mind thought that if you were to disconnect us physically that we would be able to produce this much and be so united, but we are. Um so my priority during the pandemic was to make sure to take care of the team first because you can't really grow a business or have positive results with your team feels disconnected so very quickly, I prioritize that, made sure that that was first and foremost how we were looking, you know, at what we were gonna do and how we were going to spend our resources. Um and then second was to um you know, to cut back on expenses because you have to actually save cash during this time and make sure that we were running a very lean business and make some tough decisions there of certain areas that we were going to cut and focus on the more profitable ones. Um so where we are today is a really strong lean place geared up for 2021. I do believe that the economy is going to turn around soon and you know that behavior is going to turn around and people are gonna come back out and um life is going to resume and I want hatch to be ready and and right there for people when they are community has been a big part of Hatch for the last few years.
00:23:44Edit Our stores have fostered amazing conversations with prenatal experts and uh lactation consultants and miscarriage conversations, just a real foundation for women to share what they're going through and have a safe space. Unfortunately, since we've had to close those stores and we can't have these group meetings, we've um we've had to kind of stop those community in person events, but we've pushed everything online um and created a content space called Babe by Hatch um to allow these conversations to continue. So, um we've been doing a great job in maintaining our community and our sales and really, Really shaped up the foundation and the operations of the business to be in a lean place so that we can really step function and grow in the next couple of years. We were about to open our third store at the beginning of March last year, right before all this happened. So we've pushed that out and we're looking to open at this coming September 21 So we're ready to resume position and be there are online sales are up 40% year over year. So I'm super proud of that And um we have a lot of really exciting partnerships and collaborations and play for 2021 that have been the silver lining of some of this, just knowing that that was coming down the pike and we're about to launch in the next couple of weeks.
00:24:58Edit So, um I'm very excited about that as well. People are still getting pregnant and so the demand is still there. Yeah, I was about to say it's either you're getting divorced or you're pregnant, we're getting pregnant and we're happy to see you feel like a lot of people are getting pregnant during the pandemic. Yeah, I've had a few friends. So the demand is there, which is fantastic. So we're still needed and it's just a matter of continuing to get, you know, get to people wherever they are and however we can reach them um and make sure that we're kind of front of mine there for sure. Gosh, how exciting, What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own business? That's a great question. So the first thing I would, well what I know what I can speak to is making sure that your idea is unique and that you're not launching something in a saturated market without a distinct point of view. So I would, I would just ask yourself the questions like, what am I why am I launching this idea or this product and how it will it stand out from competition because that's what anyone that you go in front of is going to be asking you is why you, why this, whether it's a product or service um tell me how it's different and that's really important because there's so many great things out there and with the internet, it's really at the touch of our fingertips.
00:26:19Edit So you it's harder than ever to be distinct and unique. Um but if you believe in something so much there's a reason why and so I just recommend really crystallizing that thesis and making sure that it's clear and you have an elevator pitch in one or two sentences that nails it so that you don't have to kind of stutter around like why are doing something? And it's hard, but I would just work on narrowing down what those two or three sentences are and believing in them so wholeheartedly that it gets you to the next step of actually moving forward and doing it amazing. Thank you. Great advice. Uh we are up to the six quick questions part of the episode, some of them we may have already covered briefly here or there, but I ask every woman on the show the same six quick questions at the end. So question number one is what's your, why? Why do you do what you do? I'm obsessed with inspiration and creating something out of nothing because this world is just so random and it's just I just feel like um creating something that people need is really beautiful and amazing and it keeps me inspired every day when I wake up and I love to make stuff and I love to connect with people and Hatch and this company has allowed me to do that and outside of my Children and my love for my family and my friends, it is it's my plato it's everything I get to work with um every day.
00:27:42Edit It's everything to me. That's so cool that it's like you're plato, I love that analogy, I'm going to use that question number two and we might know the answer to this one, but what's been the number one marketing moment that made your business pop? Uh yeah, I mean it was the meghan Markle, We were we had hit a stride prior to meghan Markle, but that was a beautiful uh just seal of approval from the world that hatches a real brand that you know, people outside of our network here are familiar with and are using. So that was, that was really the big, biggest marketing moments so far. Are you able to share a little bit about what the impact was after that photo kind of started circulating around the internet? For sure. I mean you could not possibly pay for the press that happened once it hit like Daily mail, just the global press of picking up that story, Excuse me, I'm recirculating it with something that you just literally cannot pay for. So you know, very quickly we sold out of the dress, you know, two or three times over the next six weeks.
00:28:46Edit Um we try to replenish it as fast as possible. Um it's just incredible like what's something like that can do and then, you know, you do normalize, you know, you go back a little bit, it doesn't, you know, it doesn't change, you're not always on that level of traffic, so it does normalize, but forever you have that kind of seal of approval and you can leverage that in many different ways and um you can always kind of a credit the maternity brand that meghan Markle war. You know, it can always be elite incentives to the next one, which is pretty cool. That is pretty cool. Holy moly question number four question number four question number three rather is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading listening to subscribing to? Great question. Um where am I reading to get smarter? I um right now I am, you know, I'm listening to podcasts in the morning when I wake up, my, my attention has shifted a little bit into what's happening in the world and with like psychology and human behavior verse business because I feel like it's really going to be important to understand consumer sentiment when things rebound a little bit.
00:29:58Edit So um I used to how, you know, I used to be obsessed with how I built this and listening to other, you know, amazing founders and their stories, but we're in such an unknown moment right now that I'm not sure anybody has wisdom to share. So it's more about taking all I've learned so far and applying it to, to how people are feeling. And so I'm doing a lot of just kind of human to human. Um, I'm just very curious right now and just watching and listening about culture and how people are thinking so that I can kind of guide Hatch into being a positive force there and reactor is there any particular podcast when it comes to human behavior and the psychology side of things that you're listening to that you recommend? I'm obsessed with the daily from the new york times. I think it's just it's an incredible quick half hour um showing both sides of the coin. So I think it's it's fair and it's fascinating to make some always surprised with some of the interviews that they're doing of people that think so differently from what I would think most people feel.
00:31:03Edit Um and it's completely eye opening. I love the daily. All right, question number four, we're actually there now, how do you win the day? And that's around your AM and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and motivated and successful. Well some days I don't win. I need to say that, But when um the days where I do and I'd say in the mornings if I can have a peaceful beautiful morning with my girls before they go to school and they're not cranky and we're happy and we can have that special time together. Um followed by I just do a quick 15-20 now that we're kind of bound to the house because it's winter. Um if I can do 15 or 20 minutes of Pilates or yoga um I'm really trying to reconnect with my spirit and just kind of keep that space that the quarantine has kind of provided me, which has been really awakening. Um and then not going to lie in the evening, it's usually martini. Nice, very nice question. Number five is if you only have $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it?
00:32:09Edit And that's kind of around thinking about you know where is the most important use of that dollar kind of thing, mm $1000. Um I would probably spend it on marketing because you just kind of have to, If $1,000 can get me $3,000 in revenue then it would keep me afloat so I'd probably invest it back in the business um from that front obviously you have inventory and operations and all those things that you have to spend money on to keep the lights on. Um but if I could take half of that and try and acquire new customers um I would probably instinctively go there. Amazing. And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure Failure? I'm 10 years into this. So there's something about failure that I have learned to appreciate. Um many of my mistakes have turned into golden wisdom that have led me out of you know making future mistakes and so it's painful and it hurts um and you know you can question yourself about why you know you made a decision um but you've got to look on the bright side of what you've learned from that failure and how it's going to shape what you don't know now is how it's going to shape the future and I always find that um failure yield success somehow if you keep going.
00:33:31Edit So I've turned it, I've turned lemons into lemonade, you know, many times and that's how I feel about failure. I love that shapes the future. It does indeed. Ariane, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show today and share your incredible journey. I've loved listening in and I'm gonna be cheering you on from the sidelines. Thanks for having me. What a pleasure.