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Suze Dowling, Nick Ling, and Emmett Shine know a thing or two about the direct-to-consumer space. For ten years, they launched and grew brands like Harry’s, Hims, Sweetgreen, Smile Direct Club, and Everlane at their branding and marketing agency, Gin Lane. The trio worked with founders across the entire development cycle on strategy, positioning, naming, and voice before building out their “experience design,” which entailed architecting, designing, and building digital ecosystems.
Eager to dip their toes in the entrepreneurial world themselves, Dowling, Ling, and Shine closed up shop at Gin Lane in 2019 in order to launch Pattern Brands. The concept in Pattern is to own and operate a family of household brands designed to make everyday life a little more enjoyable. Creating multiple brands under the Pattern umbrella makes sense for the team – multi-brand work is in their DNA, after all – but their real ‘aha’ moment came as they heard continued chatter about difficulties scaling direct-to-consumer businesses: “What if we look to acquire brands, too?"
Today, the Pattern team announces its two most recent acquisitions – Yield and Poketo – who join GIR and Letterfolk on the acquisition front, and Open Spaces and Equal Parts, which were incubated by Pattern. Pattern has also raised its $25M series B led by Toba Capital, Verlinvest, and BAM Elevate.
Below, discover how Pattern is modernizing the ‘family of brands’ structure for the digital age from Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder Suze Dowling. While the general concept isn’t a new one (Procter & Gamble has been around since 1837), it feels fresh through Pattern’s for-the-online-shopper lens. Whether you’re looking for your next favorite kitchen tool (might I recommend GIR’s Spoonula and Yield’s Double-Wall Glasses?) or curious about the next-big-thing in the home space, Dowling offers a wealth of knowledge…
Can you explain the value that Pattern brings to brands you’re acquiring? Why does it make sense for them to join the family vs. continue operating on their own?
SD: “As brands start to reach a certain scale, they become much more complex to run. Initially, a founder just has to optimize a product quite often, and one channel to reach initial scale, but there's so many more levers across multiple facets of the business, from marketing, to supply chain, to your omnichannel strategy that are really required to grow a brand and unlock those for the phases of growth. The benefit for brands, when they join the family, is that they really are benefiting from our unique ability to provide world class marketing and brand building skills, coupled also with robust in-house operational excellence and a mature brand platform. Then obviously, we're also giving these entrepreneurs the exits that they deserve.”
Once you launch or acquire a brand, what’s the interplay between it and the other brands in your portfolio?
SD: “All of our employees are Pattern employees and interestingly, they actually work across the entirety of the brands within the portfolio. We've very deliberately made the decision to not have individual brand teams. The logic there is that we really want the team to be able to focus on a single set of business priorities across Pattern, and also for us to be able to market through the end-to-end life cycle of a customer across the portfolio. Also, it helps us think about meaningful operational synergies in how the team interplays together.
I think from the consumer perspective though, while it's one team running the brands, it's really important to us, especially as brand builders, to celebrate the individuality and role that each brand plays within the family. We think of them as siblings. They share that same root DNA, but it's really important that they have their own distinctive personalities and identities, because that's how you can still create a really authentic connection with the consumer – but still again, by seeing them within the family as a whole, they really are complementary to one another.”
Can you walk me through Pattern’s portfolio today?
SD: “We have our two incubated brands, which are Equal Parts and Open Spaces. Equal Parts is a kitchenware line where we're primarily focusing on our beautiful chopping board and chef's knife. Open Spaces is our home organization line – bins, baskets, under bed storage, you name it.
We then have our first acquisition, GIR, which is our kitchen tools and accessories line of primarily Silicon based kitchen products. We have Letterfolk, which was our second acquisition, a brand that was first to market with the letter boards that you now see everywhere, and is most well known for its tile mat product these days.
Then we've completed Yield Design Co., a recent acquisition, which is a coffee and apothecary brand at this point in time. The brand has incredibly beautiful French presses, carafe, glassware, and is also committed to building a complete morning ritual with candles and aromatherapy incense sticks. Then Poketo, which is a stationery line that’s bringing art to the everyday through beautiful planners, notebooks, and pens.
I'm really proud and excited because together, these brands…they work. For us it’s about turning everyday moments into rituals and making them just a little bit more special. Can we, through our products, bring a smile to your face?”
What do you look for in a brand when you’re considering acquisition?
SD: “There are three things we're looking at: one is healthy and sustainable margins and sound business fundamentals. Two is a loyal customer base – we are really passionate about looking at the organic audience that a brand has built. The third thing is, of course, the focus on home centric goods that are responsibly-made and design-forward, and also a product that people love.”
As you look to the future, what’s next for Pattern?
SD: “Our intention is to continue offering the community a growing category of home goods products with the shared values that are underpinning Pattern, and really build out the rooms of your home. My dream is to continue making my own home a Pattern home. I think you can really expect to see us branch out into new categories and new rooms.
Nick, Emmett and I have been together for 10 years at this point. I think we just want to keep building brands that really matter for our generation, and hopefully spend another decade together building Pattern, and this family of brands within it.”
Explore Pattern’s portfolio at patternbrands.com. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen, entryway, or morning routine, Pattern has an intentionally-designed solution for you.