Australian sleepwear and lifestyle brand, Papinelle, is set for major US expansion in 2022 with new collaboration and retailers with its latest round of funding. Rooted in the value of women who embrace relaxation and love natural sleepwear, the ethically made brand started in 2003 by Renae James in Sydney, Australia. James and her business partners Nicole & John Kelly have since grown the line globally and have expanded their range in offerings from comfy PJ sets, soft robes and cozy loungewear.
Papinelle became known in the states for their beautiful prints and natural fabrics and have collaborated with iconic brands such as Karen Walker in sell-out sleepwear capsules. Papinelle’s popularity has helped land the brand at Nordstrom, Dillards, Bloomingdales and retailers all over the country. To fuel Papinelle’s growth in North America even more, Quadrant Growth Fund has acquired a majority interest in Papinelle. Quadrant was attracted to Papinelle’s established brand and runway for global growth, particularly with their rapidly growing e-commerce channels and the development of strategic international wholesale relationships. “From our first meeting, it was clear that Renae, Nicole and John would be great partners. We look forward to providing strategic assistance to the Papinelle team as they continue their international expansion and capital to accelerate growth,” said Louise Haslehurst, Investment Director of Quadrant. Quadrant’s investment in Papinelle will be the eighth investment from the $400 million Quadrant Growth Fund which was raised in April 2019.
James and Kelly reflect on their last decade of success and share what’s in store for Papinelle’s next wave of expansion.
Yola Robert: What is Papinelle’s core focus when it comes to sleepwear?
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Renae James and Nicole Kelly: We have always designed sleepwear with bespoke prints on beautiful fabrics. Today, our goal is simply to create the world’s most beautiful sleepwear, that is ethically made using natural fabrics that breathe and move with your body. Organic Cotton, washable silk, silk cotton blends, we love soft natural fibres!
Robert: How have you taken Papinelle from a local to global brand?
James and Kelly: Papinelle started at the iconic Paddington markets in Sydney Australia in 2001. Demand always outsold supply so we knew we had something special. Five years ago we set a goal to be the number one choice for women wanting sleepwear. After experiencing considerable growth in Australia and New Zealand, the natural next step was to go global. We knew Nordstrom would be the perfect fit to launch us Internationally as we really connected with them as a brand. Now you can see us in over 250 stores across the US (including Nordstrom and Dillards) as well as our own ecommerce store.
Robert: What kind of growth has Papinelle seen year over year?
James and Kelly: Papinelle has always seen steady amazing growth, however, the past 5 years we have seen 500% growth with the past 2 years being exceptional. We have become a leader in our category of sleepwear and loungewear. We have seen triple-digit growth in our online sales which now account for more than 50% of our business. We have also seen incredible growth with our wholesale partners. We are obsessed with good sell through so we launched in 25 doors in both Nordstrom and Dillards and have now grown into an all-door brand in both.
Robert: Why was now the right time to take on investment?
James and Kelly: We are beyond thrilled to have partnered with Quadrant, one of the top Private Equity companies in the world in our space. Their investment allows us to expand a lot faster by having a growth-focused partner with capital. This helps us accelerate growth while helping attract top talent in key management roles to build a world-class team.
Robert: What was the inspiration behind the third collaboration with Karen Walker?
James and Kelly: For our third collaboration, we wanted to dig deep into the Karen Walker print archives and found the most beautiful ’70s inspired Garden Floral that we created into modern sleepwear as our ode to times gone by. This vintage floral together with ‘Love Letters’ feminine print of Botanical Blooms, on whisper soft silk and silk cotton, in new beautiful shapes is a celebration of nature. We are in so in love”
Robert: How has collaborating with brands like Karen Walker brought success to the global expansion of Papinelle?
James and Kelly: Papinelle has accumulated an extremely loyal customer base globally and Karen Walker’s influence has seen her consistently ranked in The Business of Fashion’s powerhouse BoF 500, reflecting her position as a global industry figure. We learned very quickly from our first Collaboration that both of our customers love our connection, the ranges we create sell out almost instantly, a testament to style and comfort at its best.
Robert: What’s next for the Papinelle?
James and Kelly: We have become extremely focused on our eco-footprint. We are disrupting our own business model so that we can become a truly circular business. We are not perfect but are so proud to be on that journey so we have a clear roadmap to future-proof Papinelle for longevity.