San Francisco Chronicle
by Valerie Demicheva
Eco-friendly lingerie and apparel brand Les Lunes has added a new Healdsburg storefront, making it the fifth boutique for the company in the last 10 months. The airy, bright Wine Country location opened in April on the heels of stores in San Francisco, Corte Madera, Walnut Creek and Chicago.
Founder Anna Lecat spent 20 years running her own procurement business to connect luxury brands with top-tier factories in China. During her travels in Europe, the U.S. and China, she found herself balancing the desire for comfortable loungewear on flights with the requisite formality of fashion houses. Lecat learned she wasn’t alone in her frustration as she teamed up with French designer Melanie Viallon to transform the most intimate basics. “I set out to make the impossible possible, and make a bra you could wear comfortably all day long,” Lecat said.
It’s been quite a ride since Les Lunes debuted its George V bra (sans wiring) online in 2012 to modest sales and engagement. After a $20,000 Facebook advertising campaign in 2015 yielded a disappointing 2 percent conversion rate, Lecat held a handful of pop-up events where she hoped shoppers would be enticed by the feel of the products. Merchandise nearly sold out at each event, and ultimately led to Les Lunes’ first store on Fillmore Street, which opened in May 2016.
“Shopping in the store allows you to feel the incredibly soft fabric and the ‘made just for me’ perfect fit,” she said. She hasn’t spent another dime on digital advertising since.
Today, online sales average $70.21 per transaction while in-store purchases average nearly twice that amount, $135.03. A whopping 90 percent of Les Lunes’ sales are made in-store.
Lecat believes this is due to the stylists’ attentive service and the company’s design process, which often uses customer feedback as a guide. One time a customer said she needed a skirt that she could feel comfortable wearing all day during meetings while looking professional. Les Lunes’ designers went to work and created a soft ruched jersey bamboo pencil skirt with reinforced lining that provides light, figure-flattering compression ($165). Perhaps at Les Lunes the customer really is always right; the ruched skirt became a best seller.
Les Lunes’ team of 100 stylists, designers and garment makers tries to ensure a delightful experience for every customer by following Lecat’s mantra: “Our job is to create clothes that fit your body; it’s not your body’s job to fit our clothes, and if we can’t find something that fits you then we have to work harder.”
The company employs French pattern makers and artisans in Shanghai who sew exclusively for the label using sustainable bamboo to develop soft rayon and knitwear. Working with bamboo can be tricky, as the material can create dust particles that may lead to respiratory issues. Lecat said she ensures that her employees not only have a living wage (three times the typical pay for comparable work overseas), but also a safe working environment that follows the most stringent international protocols for health and environmental hazards. To increase job happiness, Lecat has each seamstress work on one item from start to finish. In many factories overseas, workers do repetitive piecemeal work and don’t get to see the results of their labor.
By the end of this year, the company plans to expand to seven stores, all funded by revenue from sales. Lecat projects $2.4 million in revenue this year, based on 2016’s figures from the first three stores. She attributes the consistent growth to a strong product-market fit in areas where environmentally conscientious professionals seek items that offer form, function and comfort.