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Before starting Parachute, Ariel Kaye worked in advertising, but always had a passion for home and design. Outside of her corporate job, she enjoyed interior design, helping friends redecorate their homes. In 2014 she saw a space in the home bedding category and decided to pursue that interest full-time, and started Parachute in Los Angeles. Since then, she has evolved the company into a multi-category home lifestyle brand. What began as a digitally-native company has expanded over the past seven years, beyond its roots of quality bedding to include essentials for all the rooms in the home. Under Kaye’s leadership, Parachute has also opened up 12 retail stores with plans to open 30 stores by the end of 2022, launched a hospitality collection and created a business culture of wellness and social responsibility.
How does one make such a dramatic shift from the corporate world to becoming an entrepreneur? For Kaye, there was no sitting around. She saw a gap in the market for direct-to-consumer, high-quality bedding and took a leap of faith, connecting her expertise in consumer research and brand building with her passion for home and design. Just a few short months after discussing Parachute with the company’s first investor, she had quit her job and was visiting factories in Europe.
Being an entrepreneur brings moments of fear and doubt, and she believes that being an entrepreneur is about problem-solving and looking at those problems as opportunities. Her process was to put one foot in front of the other, day after day, and slowly the company began to hit milestones. One was when orders started rolling in from customers who weren’t relatives or friends, but people with a genuine interest in the brand. Another was selling out the first batch of Parachute inventory faster than expected. She says that moment proved that people were interested, and it was enough for her to get more investors to buy in, raise capital and keep the business going. When we spoke, she noted that the messy parts are what allow you to grow.
When I spoke with Kaye, I could sense her passion for not only the Parachute brand, but also what it represents. She is passionate about wellness and investing in things that enable a healthier, happier lifestyle. Sleep, as she notes, has a significant impact on our health, happiness and productivity in our day-to-day lives. Parachute’s goal is to allow people to create a better sleeping environment in their own homes. And Kaye has extended those deeply-rooted values of quality and comfort to other areas of the home, launching bath towels, loungewear, rugs, decor and, most recently, furniture, all with a similar aesthetic.
Parachute’s commitment to quality goes beyond its product assortment to customer service across platforms, striving to make a positive impact on shoppers both in stores and online. Kaye says that for Parachute, communication is key, along with being honest and transparent throughout the purchase process. When she was first starting, she personally reached out to customers, giving them updates on their orders every step of the process to ensure they knew the brand was paying attention to them. Now, even Parachute stores serve as connection points beyond their main retail purpose — the company’s physical locations are strategically positioned in the heart of the neighborhoods they serve, inviting passersby to engage with the brand daily, and even act as event spaces.
Looking forward, Kaye believes that the trends that arose amid the Covid-19 pandemic will continue, to the benefit of the home industry. She predicts that people will continue to invest in their homes as places of work, play, relaxation and self-expression. As for Parachute, the company has big plans to introduce more categories, continue its retail expansion, enter international markets, grow its hospitality business and work with interior designers and build technological capabilities that will allow for a best-in-class user experience.
For aspiring entrepreneurs, she says a healthy dose of self-awareness is key. She realized she didn’t know everything, and by asking the right questions and surrounding herself with people who helped complement her areas of expertise, she is continuing to build a company that is inspiring people and making an impact on the market. The end goal, she says, is to build a billion-dollar business. From the sounds of it, Parachute is well on its way.