Dôen opens second store and plans retail growth under new President
Los Angeles brand Dôen is having a moment of coming full circle.
Founders and sisters Margaret and Katherine Kleveland are opening their second store this spring in Montecito, California, not far from their birthplace in Santa Barbara County.
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“It also comes full circle because in 2019 we opened and developed our first store at Brentwood Country Mart and developed a relationship there, and now we’re opening our second at Montecito Country Mart,” said Margaret Kleveland, the brand’s chief executive officer, in reference to California retail developer Jim Rosenfield’s upscale open-air shopping malls. “The first deal has exceeded and exceeded our expectations, as has our relationship with the market. They do such a good job of keeping their centers local but also adding other interesting things so it’s the best of both worlds.”
The Klevelands, both veterans of Joie, launched their direct-to-consumer brand of romantic, free-spirited, vintage-inspired floral blouses and ruffle-trimmed dresses in 2016 through a collective of female tastemakers with social media reach. Female empowerment and motherhood are brand touchstones for the brand, whose fans include Busy Philipps, hairstylist Tracey Cunningham, surfer Tori Praver, chef Lori Stern and other stylemakers.
They have recently expanded into childrenswear, loungewear, accessories and bedding. They release 10 collections a year, each with their own target lookbook shoot. The most recent “Prelude” was filmed on the North Shore of Oahu; Her very first collection was photographed in Santa Barbara’s Jalama Canyon on her father’s goat farm.
“Our customers in the region are really excited to have a brand like ours because it suits their lifestyle,” Margaret said of the 700 square meter space designed by Nickey Kehoe with Spanish Revival, Mid-Century Mexican and Coastal influences would. The opening is planned for April.
Dôen has also expanded his leadership ranks, Appointment of Holly Soroca as President in May 2021.
“Having Holly join was a dream come true for me and my sister. We are in a special moment for the brand and look forward to reaching out to the customers who have interacted with us online but haven’t seen the whole world,” said Margaret.
Soroca shared that while Dôen will continue to be primarily DTC and online, one of her top priorities for the year is to expand retail and physical presence.
“We have a strategy, but it will be slow, thoughtful and strategic. We will follow the existing customer first as we have such a strong community. Then we look for customers who don’t know us yet. At the moment we have to cover a large area where we have customers who are keen for us to open in their area.”
The East Coast will likely be next, Soroca said.
“When we launched dtc, access to the market was democratized through social media and this previously unavailable digital advertising stream, and the rise of platforms like Shopify. But we always intended to be multichannel,” added Margaret.
The brand managed not only to survive the pandemic, but to grow during it, hiring 25 more employees for a total of 85. Dôen has been profitable every year since its launch, posting 60 percent year-over-year growth in 2021.
“Everyone from a supply chain perspective has experienced a scare moment, but we’ve come to a point where we can be flexible and pivot. We had to take event wear back but luckily we had one of our big sleepwear offerings already planned for May 2020 and that was an exciting thing to test and expand in this environment,” Margaret said of the past two years.
The brand also plans category growth, including through collaborations. (Last year the brand partnered with Ergobaby on baby carriers.) “The goal isn’t to churn out them, it’s to find out what the customer wants and see if there are any categories that we’re not best at,” Soroca said.
Dôen hired Kristine Kim as the first Impact Director in October 2021, tasked with building on existing standards for environmentally responsible and humane production and factory labor.
“Our messaging approach is not based on slogans, but is more in-depth and allows customers to learn about our processes. … It’s a very confidence-inspiring approach because it doesn’t take into account a single positive attribute of a piece of clothing that is a jail-break-free card. It’s about cost of living, environmental impact and life cycle – it’s about addressing every aspect that we touch in the supply chain,” Margaret said.
All in all, they are optimistic about 2022.
“I’ve known Katherine and Margaret for a long time, I worked with them at Joie and spent seven years there with Katherine as an accomplice. Watching the brand evolve, it shocks me to see how much they’ve been able to do it organically. The love and passion that the customer has for the brand, I can’t think of any other example of a similar success story,” said Soroca. “The customer now wants an emotional purchase even more. They only stock up on basic groceries and hang around the house as much as possible. We always give them something to get excited about.”
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