Molly Goddard, Desmond and Dempsey
There is a feeling we all know on Sundays. You are in your pyjamas, you are two croissants down, and you are about to turn on a film you have seen six times. It’s been a long week. You should be in cruise control and yet, your mind won’t switch…
There is a feeling we all know on Sundays. You are in your pyjamas, you are two croissants down, and you are about to turn on a film you have seen six times. It’s been a long week. You should be in cruise control and yet, your mind won’t switch off. There is a pang of guilt. We are so overly optimised to be productive that we can’t bare to take our foot off of the pedal.
Molly Goddard of Luxury pyjama makers Desmond and Dempsey is on a mission to make doing nothing feel like something.
AVER spoke to Molly recently to find out the trials and tribulations of being a young founder with everything to prove and how that might impact how she does nothing!
How did Desmond & Dempsey Get Started?
I met Joel in Whistler, we did long distance from Australia to England for two years and when you skype Australia to England you’re always in pyjamas because of the time difference. When I moved in here with Joel and his mates, I always wore these girly little nighties and in Australia you never have that many clothes on because it’s hot and Joel was like, “mate you can’t wear that in front of my friends.” So, that is when we went out to Selfridges to buy some pyjamas. We looked to buy pyjamas and there was either super beautiful, really luxe like Olivia Von Hall £400. Lots of beautiful brands around that price mark or there was white company or there was High Street. But there was no one in that accessible luxury range, doing cool prints in cotton. So we were like how hard could it be? And a year later we launched and figured out how hard it was to make a product. But it’s all about Sundays because we used to Skype on a Sunday and that’s our day.
How Tough Can Starting a Business Be for Founders?
As a founder your main job, especially at the beginning is to sell the product and to sell the dream. You’re meant to sell the lifestyle, especially if you’re a lifestyle business and that’s how you founded it to sell the lifestyle you have to sell this dream, but we never talk about actually how hard it is. So, I think when you start a business yeah, you’re selling this lifestyle and you’re selling this dream but what you don’t talk about is all the sacrifices you make. And so what Joel and I have actually found is we’ve sacrificed a huge amount in terms of friends because we’ve had to work such long hours or you’re just so drained and tired by the end of the day that you don’t want to go out and see your friends. Also a big thing for us and I’m sure a lot of other young founders is like when you’re starting a business you’re on no money so whilst lots of your friends are getting to that point where they are progressing you’re earning nothing and all your money is going into the business. So when they are going on holiday, sometimes we just couldn’t afford that. So there’s lots of things I don’t think they tell you when you’re starting a business.
As Founders Does Putting Your Personal Identity Out on the Brand Make you Vulnerable?
I really admire brands that do not have their founder’s name. We never set out to be like “the founders”. That’s not really what we ever intended to do. But authentically, we started it with our true story. I also think when you’re asking people to get into bed with you, quite literally, and it’s quite an intimate product that you’re buying, it deserves a sense of intimacy. It’s not just the outward-facing sense of the brand. The whole brand is so intimate. It’s nearly inauthentic to not have us as a part of the brand.
What Is The Best Thing About Being a Founder?
It’s so much harder than I had thought. But seeing someone else sell the story or the product or the idea or the concept for the company to someone else with the same passion as you is like being on another high. We had a whole lot of samples that we’re going to do as a sample sell. and the thing with pyjamas is and fancy PJs is they can make you feel really good when you feel really low. So, people who need pyjamas are people in hospitals or people who have a disability and spend lots of time in bed. So over lockdown, we gifted just like hundreds of sets of PJ’s. The biggest high is getting the emails of people telling us who they would gift it to and how they felt and like how your product could genuinely make a difference to someone day-to-day.
Why did Desmond & Dempsey decide to go with being proud and profitable?
One thing we’ve chosen to do as a company and a startup, is growing probably like a little bit more sustainably. Like we could really go very quickly and focus on raising a lot of money and focus on the growth numbers, but we’ve chosen to focus on being proud and being profitable.
Our company’s mantra is proud and profitable. Proud and profitable for us is not about profitability. We can’t be profitable without being proud. In the same way, we will be proud if we’ve done everything the right way and we’re profitable from that. So, our decisions are around making choices. For example, lots of people choose to do swimwear and resort wear because that’s what they buy. But we feel like our mission is to celebrate life at home. And our mission is to make people feel like doing nothing is like something. So, we have decided not to do resort-wear and keep going with some really great pyjamas.
What is ‘coopetition’?
Co-opetition is instead of competition it’s thinking about competitors as building out a category rather than us fighting against each other. Pyjamas five years ago were such a small category that no one even thought about. It wasn’t big. So, we think about our competitors as someone we share customers with and in the process making sleepwear a trend. People focusing on sleep and making sleep sexy and taking away this need for productivity all the time is a good thing for the community.
What life lesson have you taken away from lockdown?
The one that I think is hilarious that, like we own a pyjama company. We’re all about the pleasure of leisure and celebrating life at home. I used to be the best person of leisure in the whole world and then I think when you start a business you are so used to working non-stop, I do not know how to be idle anymore. I’m trying desperately to take an hour off in the afternoon to do nothing. To have a nap, to read a book. I’ve started taking naps at 2 o’clock – it makes me happy, it makes me more productive, I’m a nicer wife, I call my parents more, I’m a better person for taking naps!
So, I am teaching myself how to bring that to life more.
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