A partnership seemed natural. Not only did
their talents and interests dovetail, but their
names combined to make the kind of moniker
that consultants are paid thousands to coin. It
evokes the serene surface of a lily-dotted pool
— just the kind of feel one aspires to in a home,
especially a home with a baby in it.
Serena & Lily’s first batch of 15 crib bedding
sets featured some illustrations, but they were
silhouetted in clean lines, pops of color on white
fabric and fine tailoring. It was, in short, the
kind of clean look that you now see in the baby
stores of much larger mass-market brands.
“It was such a paradigm shift to what was
out in the marketplace. And now the market
has really moved toward this aesthetic completely,” Kanter says.
They sent their catalog out to 400 boutiques nationwide, and immediately their fax
machine began spitting out orders — 100 in
the first few weeks alone. They knew they were
on to something.
For the first few years, Kanter and Dugan
sold their products — which grew to encompass
kids’ bedding and later the parents’ master bedroom — through retailers, the biggest customer
being Kanter’s Mill Valley Baby and Kids. But
in 2008, Kanter, who brought e-commerce
experience from Microsoft and before that
managed Deloitte & Touche’s retail consulting
practice, decided it was time to add a shopping
cart to the website and sell direct to consumers
as well as wholesale. The next year, they mailed
their first retail catalog to 85,000 households.
Although the recession was what prompted
Kanter and Dugan to reach out to the consumer, the move may have saved the young
company from becoming one of the downturn’s
casualties, because many of the retail partners
they originally sold through disappeared.
As it moved into retail, Serena & Lily
accepted its first institutional investments. Since
2008, the company has raised more than $25
million to fuel its growth.
The partners took venture capital because
they knew that larger retailers were not going
to sit back and watch them dominate the territory they had staked out. They could not be
like Crate & Barrel, taking 30 years to build up
a national brand brick by brick.
“In today’s world, things are so easily taken
and scaled by others that it’s almost required to
build your business faster,” Kanter says.
A dozen years in, that growth curve makes for
a headquarters whose bustle recalls the rush of
Over 50 Stores and Restaurants, Including Costco and Target
Rowland Blvd Exit, Hwy 101 • ShopVintageOaks.com
Bank of America ATM | Costco | francesca’s | H&R Block
Macy’s Furniture | Marshalls | Patelco Credit Union | Petco
Pier 1 Imports | Ross | Sleep Train | Target
OF IT ALL...
house & home