Lunya is riding self-care wave as it grows its sleep-focused apparel brand.
On Aug. 1, the Santa Monica, California-based luxury sleepwear company opened the doors to its first standalone store, in New York’s Nolita neighborhood.
Named The Bedroom, the store is designed to look like a bedroom, with a bed, nightstand and plants serving as the centerpiece. A key purpose is to attract enthusiasts of wellness — now a $3.7 trillion industry — through related events, many tied to sleep.
“We felt the need to tell the brand story a bit more,” said Ashley Merrill, Lunya’s founder and CEO.
Merrill said the conversation around quality sleep was different when she founded the brand in 2012, as it was prior to “all the Caspers” and to Ariana Huffington serving as a vocal proponent. “The attention around sleep has grown,” she said. “It’s nice to tap into that awareness, versus trying to create it on our own.”
The store will host panels, classes and more — just like its first store, attached to the Santa Monica headquarters, also called The Bedroom. There will be two to three events per week, with an employee dedicated to the programming. In the past, the store has hosted a fertility doctor, a yoga instructor, a cooking instructor and a meditation guru. The size of the events ranges from 20-person dinners to 120-person workshops with a sleep specialist. And Lunya often partners with women’s groups, such as Lean In, which bring in their own community. The events are not created specifically to sell product, but the brand sees a nice “halo effect” from them, Merrill said. She declined to disclose revenue.
Inside Lunya’s The Bedroom, New York
She said stores are important because fabric is at the heart of the company: Its latest launch, last month, was the Cool collection, made to help keep the wearer cooler and drier. Prior was Restore, made to convert body heat into energy. While its features are typical of those found in athletic apparel, they’re made with natural versus synthetic fibers. “People are hungry for the chance to touch it,” she said, noting that an unusual number of in-store shoppers find out about the brand online: 100 percent of visitors to the West Coast location are destination shoppers — somewhat understandable, as the location is inconvenient — as were 70 percent of those who stopped by the brand’s 2016 Soho pop-up.
She sees the cost of acquiring customers online is now “on par” with doing so by opening a store. Opening more Lunya locations in cities across the U.S. is next, in the name of building awareness.
It’s a common move, said Ken Pilot, co-founder of Pilot Consulting: Retail Solutions. “Today, the store is a marketing vehicle, a brand-building opportunity, a chance to connect with new customers,” he said. “There are many more factors in choosing a location and setting up shop than just: Will it be profitable?”
Merrill said among the first orders of business in New York is ensuring all elements of the store work to support the brand’s “sleep” focus. That includes keeping the room sparse so chairs can be brought in and projectors can be set up for dedicated events, with minimal effort — and also designing a fitting playlist, with “chill wake-up vibes” in the morning.
“We are a wellness brand,” she said. “Look at the pyramid of wellness: If you don’t sleep, you don’t work out and you don’t eat well. Sleep is the foundation.”