Yawn make nightwear and accessories, designed in London with unique hand painted prints. Marketing & PR Manager Imogen, spoke to GS1 UK about their business and plans for the future
Why and how did you start the business?
It was founded by Alice Whiteley back in 2012, and after two years of research, factory hunting and establishing production, the business was officially launched in 2014.
Whiteley has a background as a management consultant. One of the motivating forces for Whiteley was a car crash on the way back from a meeting with a big client that led her to question what she was doing.
Around this time when shopping, she was struck by the lack of characterful, colourful brands of nightwear. Everything on the market either seemed too sexy, plain or childish. This prompted Alice to start her own brand of pyjamas, with a real focus on relaxation and what women want. Ironically, this would prove to be a stressful path, although incredibly rewarding since beginning.
What type of products do you sell?
We make beautiful nightwear, ranging from pyjamas, sleep socks, nighties, robes, sleep shorts and classic tees. With our bespoke cotton and unique, quirky hand-illustrated prints with hidden details, our products are designed to feel great, look fabulous and to make you smile.
We’ve sourced fabrics for every type of sleeper and each pair of our pyjamas is made for maximum comfort. So whether you’re a wrap-up-warmer or prefer to keep your cool, we’ve got you covered!
Are you online/offline/multichannel?
We’re predominantly an online business, with our office based in London Farringdon, though we sell through our stockists both online and in-shop too.
Do you trade with any partners or channels?
We currently work with Figleaves and would like to work in-store with John Lewis or Selfridges in the future as we feel they’d provide a great opportunity to reach our target audience.
We have stockists all over the country and internationally and also have a Dispatch team in Leeds ‘Torque’ and garment factories in India and Portugal.
How long have you been a GS1 UK member?
Since we started trading over 2 years ago.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day consists of sales meetings, product development, stockists and customer management and a lot of admin! We’re a small team so individually take on a lot of responsibility, but we work together well and support each other across our different roles. Print and product development in itself is extremely important as we want to create a high quality classic range that will stand the test of time. All prints are hand-illustrated at our studio in London, inspired by our surroundings and team member’s relaxation methods and memories.
What are currently your biggest challenges in the business?
One of the main reasons Alice set up Yawn was to help other women to relax as we live in a very pressurising time. So ensuring Alice’s own well-being while managing the competing pressures of being a mother and a business owner is important.
Being a startup can eat you alive unless you are very careful - it is all encompassing. Initially Alice found it extremely hard to take a break and was always “on”, but she has grown better at dealing with it.
It is extremely rewarding however to see the business grow and develop. We see ourselves as makers and work very collaboratively in our London studio. It’s very satisfying seeing everyone’s creativity across different departments and hard work coming together. Most importantly, as we’re still small, we’re still able to speak and learn from our customers personally – it’s great speaking to them on the phone and hearing what they really think and how we can help with their needs.
What are your plans for the business for the next 12 month?
We’ll be continuing to grow and expand the range, introducing new prints and colour ranges, and hopefully some new basics so that people can mix and match more with their classic sets and PJ bottoms.
We’re also looking to develop relationships with larger department stores and find new ways to reach potential customers through events and different marketing techniques…all to be revealed!
Tell us an interesting fact about you?
Alice used to present in a breakfast show!
Who inspires you?
Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop
What top tip or piece of advice would you give to our other brands or sellers?
Get a great team around you and remember a lot of the struggles you come across are all in the mind. The more positive you are and with those around you, the more positive things are for everyone in the business. It’s important to focus and take ‘baby steps’, slow and steady growth, with lots of little wins.