MONJO: I understand that you will soon be launching new accessory items to go along with your Sleepwear, Loungewear, and Robes. Can you describe the new accessories and how many new accessories there will be?
MURPHY: Yes, we have a full accessory line of cozy hats, blankets, and scarves premiering this fall. Versatility, style, and functionality beyond the home is a major focus for Softies moving forward. And we’ve wanted to expand beyond sleepwear and loungewear for quite a while, but it was important for us to develop a strong base in those core categories first. Last year was the first time our customers consistently asked for the same soft fabrics in adjacent products. We listened!
MONJO: What is the timing of the launch of the new items? What will the retail prices be for these new items? Will that collection be called Softies or are you using another name?
MURPHY: Our entire fall collection across all categories will launch in September. Pre-ordering is available now through our wholesale site, trade shows, or catalog requests. Softies will continue to be bridge to better pricing, but our accessory line of hats, blankets, and scarves will retail from $15-$75. As a manufacturer, we’re excited to offer new, soft styles that are attractive to buy at wholesale and easy to sell at retail. Our two favorite words for our new accessory line: one size!
As for the Softies name, is there any better way to describe our products? It really says it all, and we’re so proud of delivering on our name with each and every style. And while the Softies name is here to stay, we are putting the finishing touches on a re-brand and repositioning of our current logo. We’re taking a step back from our old Softies mark to modernize and simplify it. We want the product to speak for itself.
MONJO: Are you planning to add to the sleep and lounge collection this year? If so, please describe the new items, the timing of the launch, and the retail prices.
MURPHY: Yes, we are planning to add to our core collections in sleepwear and loungewear this year. In fact, it has been tough to keep up with the demand for new. In our cooling sleepwear, we have three new collections that focus strongly on modern versatility. Whether you’re working from home, on the go, or desire that extra touch of style (or modesty) traditional sleepwear doesn’t offer. We have new silhouettes that really cater to the modern woman. In loungewear, we have a lot of new items, but we’re most excited for the Snuggle Jumper. Yes, a jumper! Of course, we have great robes, and new twists on best-selling lounge pieces, but I’ve never seen a response to the Snuggle Jumper like the ones received from our spring trade shows. The style is fun, flirty and envelopes you in softness. Customers love it! We love it. Retail prices for all Softies sleepwear robe and loungewear range from $85-119, and there is a true richness to our color palette throughout the line this year.
MONJO: What sets apart your line of sleep and lounge styles? Why do customers keep coming back?
MURPHY: The key factor that has set Softies apart from the very beginning is our attention to our customers. We know how important it is to deliver on time, deliver correctly, and guarantee a quality product. Like many of our accounts, we are also a family business. We’ve had good years, and we’ve had bad years, and we know that every customer, and every order, counts – big and small. I think people keep coming back because, yes, we make wonderfully soft products, but customers also know they can count on our family to stand by them, their family and their business.
MONJO: I understand you moved from a more store oriented approach to a direct to consumer model. When did that shift occur? What is the ratio between selling to retailers and selling direct?
MURPHY: Our approach has always been, and will continue to be, store oriented. We still offer the most aggressive pricing to our boutiques. We still provide them with first class marketing assets for their own ecommerce sites. We still direct consumers to local stores, where we encourage them to buy at more competitive prices. There were no e-commerce engines when Softies started. But the market has shifted dramatically since then, and we were one of the first companies to accept that consumers were going to increasingly shop online. It wasn’t so much as a decisive, strategic shift away from what we were doing. We were just playing the cards we were dealt. And to be quite honest, we had no idea what we were doing early on. A lot of money was spent on mistakes, my mistakes, but if we hadn’t added an online element to our business, we wouldn’t have one today.
MONJO: Do you do any private label programs for other stores or brands?
MURPHY: Yes, private label programs for stores and catalogs has been a strong part of our core business from day one.
MONJO: Can you give a brief history of the company? How has the business evolved to its present day form?
MURPHY: My father, Dennis Murphy, has been in the women’s fashion industry for over 40 years, starting as a rep, then national sales manager, then owning his own rep group. In 2006, he and our incredibly talented designer, Lily Nguyen, left their respective roles at Jockey to form Paddi Murphy Corp. The driving force behind their departure was the idea of combining the moisture wicking properties of athletic wear with women’s sleepwear. A place where femininity meets functionality. Softies by Paddi Murphy Sleepwear was born. I joined the company in a marketing and sales role in 2008 after working as a sales manager in corporate America. Paddi Murphy Corp. had expanded its divisions to include Softies and spa robes. Private label and boutique business in the U.S. were 100% of our revenue, and industry trade shows were our sole means of communication. That scared me more than a little, and I went to work right away on a full-blown marketing overhaul: web presence, company branding, seasonal catalog releases, direct mailings, email campaigns. If someone hadn’t heard about us, they were about to. We almost went out of business that year. The crash of 2008 was not kind to our cash flow in general, and our marketing plan on steroids amplified the effect. I was very close to being fired by my own dad. Luckily, the marketing investment began to pay off by mid-2009. All of the little marketing touch points we invested in began to ripple through the industry, and our boutique business grew significantly. We also began to learn and understand ecommerce. Scaling helped negotiations with our factories, vendors and customers. As we grew, we were able to reinvest in new styles, new revenue streams and more aggressive growth strategies, both online and in store. We moved the operation out of my parent’s basement and public storage lockers in 2011. I took over operational control of the company in 2014. Today we operate two warehouses and contract seasonally with a 3PL firm. Lily, thankfully, is still with us!
MONJO: Do you have any additional news to share about your company?
MURPHY: Softies was fortunate enough to be named to Oprah’s Favorite Things list not once, but twice! Both in 2017 and 2018, Oprah herself selected one of our cozy lounge pieces to her list. We are forever grateful for the opportunity! Look for more Softies this year across a variety of medium, including Good Morning America, The View, O Mag and even Good House Keeping Magazine.