You should unabashedly be yourself whenever and wherever you are. Most people can do this pretty well, but fail to express themselves with their linens. Why shouldn’t the place where you spend more hours of your life than anywhere else not be the most representative of you. With Flaneur, this is a problem of the past. With their DNA –tested (that’s right DNA) high quality cotton, they are finally giving your bedroom the personality it deserves. With seasonal and mood dependent options they strive for comfort and most importantly breathability.
Cofounders Tianjiao Yu & Lu Xiong cover the bases for AlleyWatch and gives us the inside scoop about why your room should be more than just a room.
Tell us about the product or service.
Flaneur is an e-commerce driven brand of high-end bed linens based in NYC. According to French, flaneur means “urban lounger, idler”. So this brand is designed for those who are creative, playful and at leisure. We just launched our beta online storefront.
Flaneur is built to coin a new term, “the bedroom fashion”. What’s in your room is not just a sheet, it’s a mood. The way we dress our bodies broadcasts our stories to others; while the way we dress our bedrooms builds creative spaces for ourselves. So we work on beddings as if we are apparel designers and manufacturers – we source every material in person, and we pay meticulous attention to details.
All Flaneur beddings are made of 100% Supima Cotton. The style is modern, neutral, and minimalistic. But you won’t expect to see very routine Scandinavian shades. We partner with top-notch manufacturers of sewing thread and zippers to make sure everything we do is classy and charming. Each and every sheet is a perfect combination of soft and sturdy, crispy and smooth. Whether people want to have them in the original Supima Cotton’s golden-white color with the natural sheen, or to customize the color of those sheets, Flaneur gives people everything they’ve yearned for and deserved.
The entire line is a very rare collaboration of legendary manufacturers around the world. The e-commerce motor helps us know our customers better by having more opportunities to engage with them in different contexts. So eventually we can respond to people’s needs and requests in various and agile ways.
How is it different?
In short, Flaneur reforms how you conceive of your bedsheets as well as your bedrooms.
We are the first to DNA test our fabric, 100% Supima cotton, distinguishes ourselves completely from the Egyptian cotton, which is very inconsistent in quality. Together with the “golden formula” to weave, our products have everything people dream about the bed linens: softness, smoothness, sturdiness, breathability.
We are the first and only brand that enables people to customize the color of their sheet set and get it shipped in only 7 days. Never did any other brand can do this before. And it’s another signature collection that wows tons of people so far. What’s more, we offer different color palette for different season – 20 colors for each season. For example, we’re now offering neutral colors for fall/winter 2015, and will offer more poppy color for the next spring/summer.
We are the first startup that is able to collaborate with the legendary manufacturers around the world to assemble the best ever bed sheets. Our products, like the name of our brand, are always on voyage. It’s a flagship for the new generation who believe in the authentic story, global collaboration and unique craftsmanship.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are attacking the higher-end bedding market. U.S. is the largest market of home textile in the world, with $27.1 billion value every year. Bed linens values are 15% of it.
We are at the same time keeping an eye on the fastest growing market – China, the imported premium bed linens in 2014 are valued $2.5 billion.
What is the business model?
We adopt a Director-to-consumer model, because it’s the best way to guarantee that we are delivering the second to none customer experiences and a very truthful branding image.
What inspired you to start this business?
Both cofounders spent a fairly good amount of time in their bedrooms when they were students at Columbia University. The bedroom to them is much more than just a place to pass out. It’s a creative space where they write papers, read, doodle, and drink. So quite naturally, as the largest piece of item in one’s bedroom, how bed linens work and feel decisively influence the vibe of the room.
In the City of New York, founders are also inspired by a good number of public spaces. Lots of them are designed to let people slow down and enjoy a solitude moment. A bedroom should function exactly in the same philosophy. The bedroom should be part of someone’s identity.
As flaneurs set out to build the perfect bed sheet from scratch, founders spontaneously decided this will be a product that jointly worked out by the best manufacturers around the world, e.g., from Germany, Switzerland, US, and China. As a matter of fact, both founders have curated and collected various home linens during their trips throughout US and the entire Europe, but the beddings have always remained as a weak point in the bedroom.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
In the past six months, we’ve achieved a lot. We have put together our supply chain, have all the products ready, completed our beta version website and acquired 160 beta customers.
In the coming six months, our plan of Flaneur brand is
- Sell out the first batch of products.
- Increase our customer base into 5000.
- Partners with the local famous designers and artists to produce the special edition.
- Partners with the local high-end boutique stores to display and sell our products offline.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be?
Lerer Hippeau. They have a very successful tracking record of investing in the direct-to-consumer model. Each portfolio company has great insights to their customers and the markets they are disrupting. They are also a big fan of content marketing, which is something our team really wants to excel in. Lastly, they are at the beginning point of a good pipeline for a startup to pick up funds in later stage.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is the best place in the world for a startup in consumer goods and fashion. And if you want to do home linens, New York is the place to have our coronation.
Secondly, as the world capital of high-end consumer goods, New York is the place that we can get in touch with many of our target customers and communities.
Thirdly, New York is one of the most creative spaces in the world, attracting all kinds of creative professionals under its umbrella from around the world. We’re a brand that is endlessly inspired by the creative community and cater to it.
Lastly, as a resident in the city for more than 7 years, we have such a deep personal relationship with this city. We love it and hope to reward it with our creation and contribution.
What is your favorite fall activity in NYC?
Hiking, Biking, Roadtripping.
Enjoy the great food at the Flea market or festival.
Enjoy the great books in the library, or go to the museum.