With Parade, founder and CEO Cami Tellez wants to build the next big underwear brand. Looking back at 2021 alone, she’s already made great progress.
The direct-to-consumer brand, best known for its inclusive approach to products and marketing, secured $43 million in funding within the year and is now valued at $140 million. In step, it expanded to new categories, including bralettes and loungewear, and a line of underwear in skin-matching shades. And early this month, it opened its first store, in NYC’s Soho neighborhood.
According to Tellez, her 2-year-old company has sold more than 2 million pairs of underwear and now sells a pair every 10 seconds. Affordable and comfortable, the styles are perfectly suited to consumers’ current demands.
“The unprecedented growth that we’ve seen this year is really due to the tremendous product-market-culture fit we’ve created at Parade, which is in service to and in constant conversation with our community,” Tellez said.
That community is composed of 300,000 customers ages 16-45 who are scattered around the country — 50% reside outside of California and New York. In addition, Parade has 5,000 ambassadors, who provide constant feedback and promote Parade products on their social channels. Moving forward, Tellez hopes to eventually scale that group to 50,000-100,000 people.
Considering the brand’s growth plans and its community focus, a larger team couldn’t hurt.
Early next year, Parade plans to launch a gender-neutral collection, as well as a takeback program enabling the recycling of its products. Other sustainability-focused goals include becoming carbon neutral by 2022 and becoming climate positive by 2025.
“We have a very ambitious product pipeline,” Tellez said. “We’re really focused on expanding our total addressable market through product expansion. Plus, we want to go deeper with our existing customers. Right now, we make up about 30% of their underwear drawer.”
Thanks to hosting 50 product drops in its first two years, Tellez knows the power of newness well. At the same time, she’s become an expert on what the Parade shopper really wants.
“[Brands] are like media companies,” Tellez said. “There’s so much premium content everywhere. So we have to have something relevant on [at least] a weekly basis to keep our customers’ attention.”