Latest Ariel Kaye News
Mar 25, 2021
What’s the takeaway for brands as a post-COVID era starts to shape daily life? Parachute founder ... [+] Ariel Kaye says to think of the human interactions, experiences and self-expression consumers have found inside their four walls throughout the last year — and how those may be around for some time to come. Parachute In a previous version of life, home was a place people would eat, sleep and store their stuff. These days and perhaps for some time to come, home has evolved from an escape from the world into our entire worlds. When the world finally does open up there is a real chance that many consumers will still want to use home as a hybrid space and safe haven. As a result, leaders, organizations and brands alike must reevaluate how they offer daily comforts to consumers who have grown accustomed to both 24/7 control of their environments and any glimmer of confidence they can get their hands/hearts/eyes on. What’s the takeaway for brands as a post-COVID era starts to shape daily life? Parachute founder Ariel Kaye says to think of the human interactions, experiences and self-expression consumers have found inside their four walls throughout the last year — and how those may be around for some time to come. Jeff Fromm: What does comfort mean today? Ariel Kaye: Comfort in the most literal sense can really be about the physical sensation of comfort and warmth. Comfort also is about confidence, feeling good and about feeling like yourself. In terms of the way that we think about comfort as a brand is this idea of home that feels grounded, secure, cozy and it just feels good. Like you're in the place you're supposed to be. Fromm: Given how much time consumers spend in their home, what changes have you seen in your business during COVID? Kaye: We were seeing an acceleration in the home category prior to COVID and people investing in products within their home. We see our customer moving through life stages that just make them inherently more focused on the home in general. Moving in together, getting married, starting families, buying homes, things like that. But with COVID, our homes were working on overtime. So our homes were not just our place of shelter, but they were also our office, our gym and our entertainment center. They were working in ways that we've never experienced before. What we saw almost immediately was this desire to make home as comfortable as possible and to make it feel fresh and welcoming while serving lots of different purposes. MORE FOR YOU When your bedroom is also your office or your living room is also a gym, and if you have kids, it has to be very flexible in terms of space. With everything going on externally, we saw a lot of people immediately wanting to refresh, rethink and adapt to the seasons and make sure that they were living in a space that was going to provide them with comfort in a time of real discomfort. In times of uncertainty, we also tend to gravitate towards the safe space and our home had to be that, and then some. Fromm: What has been the biggest unexpected challenge as a result of this rapid evolution of the role of home? Kaye: Our goal is always to be where our customers are and to make the shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. There were immediate challenges for us having to start working remotely. We had to think about how our customers were going to shop and how we could make sure that they were shopping comfortably. We had to think about how to bridge the gap for people that like in-store experiences when that wasn't an option. We quickly launched things like our chat with a stylist program, which pretty much brought that in-store, in-person experience online and allowed us to reach more people than our stores actually ever have. We had to think about the fact that when our stores opened, there'll still be a customer that was not comfortable shopping in-store, but how do we get them those products as quickly as they want them? So we launched things like buy online, pickup in store, appointment shopping and curbside pickup. We have evolved as a business at a faster pace than ever before, and actually learned how quickly we can adapt and can flex our muscles and can make big changes. Fromm: Can you talk to me about the role of empathy both for you and your brand to your employees and to the consumers you serve? Kaye: That's been a big focus for us this year. As a team, we've all been impacted by COVID in many different ways. There's been a lot of change and a lot of impact. We've spent a lot of time thinking about how we can support each other, feel connected and make sure that people feel like they have outlets to talk when they're having a hard day. We've started things like guided meditations throughout the day and we have a weekly check-in where everyone gets on Zoom so we can see each other's faces. It's very casual, but it is important that we are connected and we are still creating the culture that makes people feel like they're part of this team. The same goes in terms of how we've then extended that to our customers. In addition to COVID, there's been civil unrest in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement. We've chosen to take a vocal stance throughout all of these moments and to be very clear with our position and our support towards our community. It comes from a very authentic place for us and something that we're very proud to be part of. Fromm: What do you think the future looks like given the increasing importance of home? How might things look a year from now in terms of both the role of home and what your consumers expect from brands that help them live a more rich life? Kaye: I don't see much changing, to be honest. I think home will continue to be a central part of everyone's life in this magnified way. Even post vaccine and this idea of returning to normal, I think there will still be a desire to be safe within one's home and to spend time with loved ones. We're going to see a continued emphasis on products that make your home more comfortable, whether that is textiles or kitchen products or outdoor products. I think people are going to continue to want to create spaces that are welcoming, inviting, comfortable and functional in many different ways. I don't think office culture will return to what it was pre-COVID for a very long time, if ever. I think that this flexibility of working remote or having some hybrid model is the way of the future and at least for a while. We've been joking that we see such an increase in products like our robes. It's because the robe is the new blazer. People want to be comfortable at home. People want to feel like they can thrive and be productive and have energized experiences at home. We're thinking about how our products can help people feel both relaxed and comfortable, but also productive and energized when they need to. We're excited as a brand. It gives us a lot of excitement and it makes us very energized for the future and for the many directions our brand can go from a product perspective and from a services perspective. What have you done to connect with consumers amid the pandemic? What more can you do to better meet your brand loyalists' needs? Check back here through April for more insights, interviews with global leaders and ideas in response to COVID-19’s impact on how we live and define home during and post-pandemic. Follow me on LinkedIn . Check out my website .