Ariane Goldman’s favorite solution to the problems she uncovers is to found a company dedicated to fixing them. While planning for her wedding in early 2007, Goldman, bothered by the expensiveness of single-use bridesmaids dresses, designed and created multi-functional dresses that could be enjoyed by her bridesmaids during and after the big day. Recognizing that many millennial brides and bridesmaids were grappling with the same issue, she founded twobirds New York, a company crafting and selling bridesmaids dresses that could be worn and enjoyed over again. Three years later, while pregnant with her first child, she found herself disappointed by the lack of style in maternity clothes. In response, she founded HATCH Collection—14 key pieces of elevated maternity wear designed to offer pregnant women an alternative from the strict utility that had come to define the category.
Goldman’s commitment to identifying and solving gaps in the market has given her a blueprint for success. Since its founding in 2011, HATCH Collection has grown into an array of different products, all centered around the single mission of helping expecting mothers embrace and celebrate all stages of their pregnancies. The company, which began digital-only, expanded into two brick-and-mortar locations that serve as product showrooms as well as community spaces for pregnant women, featuring everything from prenatal yoga sessions to cravings bars stocked with pickles, ice cream, and candy. As part of our Office Hours Q&A series on @AmericanExpressBusiness on Instagram, we chatted with Ariane to learn about how HATCH Collection pivoted during the pandemic and how she’s finding ways to stay connected with her community.
You were nearly ready to open a third HATCH store in March; then you had to shelve the plans. How did you handle having so much equity tied up in the investment?
It’s been a big decision for us as to what to do with that store opening as we were 80% invested in the buildout of the space when the city shut down in March. We had significant revenue goals for the Upper East Side location and had to rework our financials to reflect the Capex required to build out the store but no revenue on the other side (plus the inventory costs of stocking the store). We’ve since negotiated with our landlord and are hoping to open the location about 12 months after originally planned in March 2021- so fingers crossed.
Has the pandemic changed how you are thinking about in-person retail experiences and your future plans for stores?
I believe so much in our in-store experience, always providing more than just shopping to our customers. For example, we have a “Cravings Bar” in each location offering complimentary pickles, ice cream and candy for mamas to indulge when in the store. Right now, we obviously can’t offer that same experience, but when things do get back to normal, I’m hoping not to have to make too many changes to the surprise and delights we offer in store - of course following all protocols necessary.
COVID-19 has prompted you to curb business expenses that you used to take for granted. What sorts of savings did you see and where? Any advice on how small business owners can do similar internal checks?
One of the silver linings of the pandemic was the need for us to tighten our budget and really analyze where we could reduce expenses. As an organization grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor all rates like shipping, plug-ins, or T&E. So this moment has enabled us to go back and ensure all dollars spent are efficient, negotiated and have an ROI against them. It’s a discipline we will definitely maintain moving forward.
In the absence of in-person work, what are you and your team doing to stay in sync?
It’s a new world, and requires a new form of leadership skills which I am learning day by day. Much of the team moved to various states over the pandemic and at first I was concerned but I am blown away by the performance and efficiency of the team working virtually. We meet mornings for team huddles to stay connected before our days start and try to celebrate and team build at least every other week to stay connected. Uniting the team, giving people time to handle this difficult time on their own terms, and trusting the process has proven well for us so far.
As an organization grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor all rates like shipping, plug-ins, or T&E. So this moment has enabled us to go back and ensure all dollars spent are efficient, negotiated and have an ROI against them. It’s a discipline we will definitely maintain moving forward.
Cultivating community is a big focus for HATCH. One of the vehicles for that has been your editorial platform Babe. What have you learned in the past 6 months since it launched?
What a fantastic time to surface content to the amazing mama’s out there! Conversation is strong, women are yearning for stories and connections to other women going through similar experiences and Babe has facilitated that comfort and support. HATCH’s mission isn’t just to sell solution-based clothes that make women feel good, but also provide a support system and community to let women know they are not alone. It’s been amazing!