In establishing a digitally native eCommerce brand offering high-quality linen bedding and sleepwear, Piglet founder Jessica Mason has found a recipe for success. Belinda Craigie finds out more about creating a brand built around comfort and community.
What was the initial thinking behind Piglet?
I started Piglet in 2017 with my fingers crossed that I wasn’t alone in looking for high-quality basics for my home that are as cosy as they are beautiful. We started tiny with just linen duvet covers and pillowcases in a few calming colours, and have since grown the brand to include much more bedding, sleepwear, table linens, gifts and accessories.
I was really excited to see how an emerging group of direct-to-consumer eCommerce brands were changing the way that retailers could create a relationship with their customers and I wanted to be part of that change. Through our customer service and marketing efforts, we work hard to be as approachable and helpful as possible to make our customers feel both comfortable and also part of a community that cares about them.
What inspired the name of your brand?
A couple of different factors played into that choice. Firstly, we are based in rural West Sussex, surrounded by farms so I liked the country connection. Mostly, however, it conveys an image that I think resonates well with what we are about: comfy, a bit scruffy and not too serious.
How has your professional experience informed the development of Piglet?
Before starting Piglet, I was working in PR and marketing in London and Dubai with quite a few different brands in the consumer sector including Christian Louboutin, Ray-Ban and Nike. The scope of the brands I worked with really helped to shape my idea of the sort of company I wanted to create and the kind of culture I wanted to build. It also taught me a thing or two about Facebook advertising, which has turned out to be invaluable!
My first job out of university may well have been the most formative. For a short time between degrees, I worked on the Australian beauty brand Aesop’s marketing team. The clarity of Aesop’s brand image was so clear and all-encompassing. This extended far beyond their products, branding and marketing campaigns into things like the tea they serve and the music they play in stores, the Muji pens we all wrote with and an instantly recognisable style of customer care. I realised then that this kind of brand vision can create real community outside of the stores and the products we buy. And with that kind of community comes extreme loyalty. This is something hard to emulate for a predominantly online brand – but I’ll give it a good shot.
How have you utilised digital platforms in building the brand?
Piglet will always be first and foremost a direct-to-consumer eCommerce brand and so digital platforms are part of everything we do. Instagram has been crucial for us and (so far) I don’t think there is any better way to share your brand story, communicate a defined aesthetic and build a community online.
Facebook Messenger is another important tool, as this is how we field a good number of our customer queries. We aim to be on hand whenever we are needed and to provide immediate responses for our customers. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about comfort in the buying process. We want our customers to feel as comfortable buying from us as they would from their trusted village shop.
What was behind the decision to launch a pop-up shop in Notting Hill?
As a young brand, we are constantly experimenting with new sales channels and strategies. Physical location is something that we will constantly be re-evaluating as we move forward and the landscape continues to change. In this case, we discovered that it was a great way to engage with some of our customers, to expand our brand identity a little and to strengthen the sense of community that we hope to foster. It wasn’t, however, a roaring financial success compared to the economics of selling online.
How do you want your customers to feel when they use your products?
We want our customers to feel comfortable above all else. Comfortable in their homes, of course, but also with the ethics of their purchasing choices and the transparency we offer.
We are not trying to tell anyone how their home should look or how they should be living within it. We hope that Piglet makes our customers feel like they are free to use the products however they like – even if they don’t feel like making their beds that morning!
What channels do you use to communicate with your customers?
Like most direct to consumer eCommerce brands, we utilise Facebook and Instagram a lot to communicate with our customers. We are also starting to get better at email marketing, which we had underused until recently. The communication we have directly with our customers through email, Facebook Messenger and Instagram direct messaging may be the most valuable to us in conveying our brand values and building trust.
What is the best advice you could give someone looking to build a digitally native brand?
I would recommend starting small and testing along the way as you grow. A lot of my assumptions about what our customers are looking for have been proven wrong and I am grateful that by growing gradually, those mistakes have never been too costly.
In today’s start-up environment of apparent overnight successes swimming in venture capital investment, it is easy to feel pressure to grow big, fast. The longer we run Piglet the more I realise the benefit of building strong foundations and a sturdy business.
What’s in the pipeline for Piglet?
We are about to open our second fulfilment centre, this time just outside of Chicago. The US has been responsible for a significant enough share of sales since launching the business (with minimal marketing push), so we feel confident an investment into North America is the right next step for us.
We are also continuing to add to our homeware and sleepwear product ranges, always with a focus on comfort and sustainably sourced materials. Our latest addition to the range is our small pilot collection of linen throws and cushions.
This interview was originally published in LB 218.