Grow at all costs. I mean – that’s what most DTC brands do, right? Not the furniture startup Article.
Founded in 2013, Article was profitable by 2015. And they’re still seeing double-digit growth (45% YoY sales in 2021, to be exact).
Meanwhile, the big DTC names (*cough* Warby Parker; *cough* Casper) still haven’t broken even.
So, what’d Article do differently? The TL;DR version is that they:
- Took on minimal funding. Article raised a small Series A and Series B but considers itself a mostly-bootstrapped, “founder-funded” brand.
- Work within their cash flow. Meaning, Article keeps marketing expenses “proportionate with its revenue,” per co-founder and CEO Aamir Baig.
- Built proprietary technology. And hired 100 Vietnam-based techs to manage it.
- Don’t own its Asian manufacturing sites. Instead, the overseas team manages those relationships, providing better inventory visibility (a huge advantage amid supply chain chaos).
- Work closely with manufacturing partners to “develop high-quality products at the best value.” This translates to better COGS and, consequently, bottom-line growth.
- Rely on real-time data. Constantly analyzing market trends, sales data, and customer feedback to understand shopping preferences. Then, use those insights to inform production schedules and which new products to make.
- Maintain optimal inventory levels. Per Aamir, “Accurate product analysis and forecasting ensure we design and stock products that will produce a return, resulting in top-line growth.”
- Aim to own their fulfillment process. Article currently delivers 50%+ of its total orders. And last year, expanded its delivery network to 15 new markets (including San Francisco) and opened 3 new fulfillment centers.
- Stay online. “We don’t rule [brick-and-mortars] out,” says Aamir, “but not for the foreseeable future.”
In other words, Article prioritizes operational excellence by growing not just bigger but better. And because of this, profits always follow.