Some of the most buzzworthy direct-to-consumer brands like Hims and Harry’s got their identity from marketing agency Gin Lane. Now, the New York-based firm is closing its doors to transform into Pattern, a direct-to-consumer holding company.
With its debut, Pattern is also announcing its first brand: Equal Parts, a DTC kitchenware company that will face competition from other upstarts like Great Jones, Potluck and Made In.
The mission of Pattern is to “help our generation find enjoyment in daily life” by creating new brands that are all tied together. Co-founder and CEO Nick Ling said while Pattern is the umbrella company for these new brands, they’ll all relate to each other in some way—as opposed to the current DTC market where there are some collaborations but each company operates in its own category.
“We’ve designed Pattern [to address] how we can build a business for where we think consumers should go,” Ling said, with the goal of developing “multiple brands in multiple parts of their life.”
Camille Baldwin, vp of brand at Pattern, said the aim is to function similar to the mom-and-pop general stores of a bygone era, where customers knew the owners and trusted the brands they carried—a model Pattern is dubbing “direct-with-consumer.” In the DTC era, the customer can talk to a brand and receive excellent service. But with “direct-with-consumer,” Ling wants to go beyond just customer service and “offer guidance” as well as products.
“We don’t want to just give you nails to a picture, but [also] the best way to put up a picture,” he said.
To do so, Baldwin is working on building brands that contribute to activities that bring people back to the “present moment.” After closing a $14 million venture round, that mission began with Equal Parts, which aims to revitalize the kitchen by making cooking more enjoyable. Details like how many items will be part of the brand weren’t disclosed, but Baldwin said Equal Parts will offer online and offline support, hold events and produce content that will help consumers “feel like they can be vulnerable.”
As Ling put it, “You don’t build brands now for every person in America, but you build brands that can speak to unique people in unique ways.”
Despite taking venture capital money, Ling isn’t looking to chase rapid growth—though it is planning to roll out more brands in 2020. Making Pattern a holding company means if one brand is struggling, the others in the portfolio can help support it. Ling also wants to move away from advertising heavily on social platforms and instead create a “community” that will help Pattern develop its next brands.
“We’re trying to build a community rather than just buying one product,” Ling said.
Pattern isn’t necessarily the only business that’s trying out a holding company concept to develop more brands. Other shops like Brandable, Very Great (formerly known as Assembly Brands) and even Glossier are trying out the model and creating DTC companies like pet product maker Wild One. However, Ling argues Pattern is different because it has a central mission, rather than just building brands for brands’ sake.
“It’s better to build brands that have a core group of consumers rather than go to market [with a product] that people don’t need as much,” Ling said. “I think less of what are other people doing in the market and how can we really go off in this mission to how we believe brands should be built in the future.”