Everyone who knows me is acutely aware of my unconditional, and occasionally unnatural, love for pajamas.
Whether it’s 2 pm or 9 pm, I see nothing wrong with putting on your favorite pair of PJs to maximize comfort, focus, and, of course, happiness.
My first impression of Lunya – sleepwear designed so thoughtfully that you can transition from bed to brunch – was on Spring where I admired the Alva Crop and Dream On dress during my Friday night scrolls.
I had the pleasure of spending time with Ashley Merrill, Lunya’s Founder and CEO, last week and she shared how the Santa Monica team brings the designs I’ve been admiring on Spring to life.
After catching a glimpse of herself in her husband’s Star Wars tee-shirt (and seemingly thinking she let herself go), Ashley founded Lunya in 2012 to answer the question: How and where do you find sleepwear that is effortless, comfortable, and still flattering?
With no previous experience in fashion, the early days were an intense learning curve for Ashley. She faced basic questions like: How do you design, produce, and manufacture sleepwear?
It is a real an act of personal determination to force your body to take steps in the forward direction.
Despite taking a year and a half to launch her first collection, Ashley deeply values the experiences learning about product, design, and manufacturing.
“You make rookie mistakes, but if I had no hands-on experience I’m not sure I could appreciate that aspect of the business,” she explained.
“It’s important to understand the issues your team members face in their roles. It enables you to respect people who are really good at what they do.”
Today, Ashley is joined by five team members who are growing their team in Santa Monica. You can learn more about their open positions here.
Their most important goal, as is with most startups, is to live their values internally and externally.
Know who you are and what you want to stand for.
They achieve that by being intentional with each decision they make.
From thoughtful design additions, like the breathable sections in the Between the Sheets Nightie, to the way they treat their customers, Lunya strives to be an extension of the women they’re creating the product for.
Lunya is an easy answer that fits into the modern woman’s lifestyle. It’s about being yourself, not sacrificing comfort.
Ashley and her team spent the early days defining the modern woman they’re designing for to best understand her needs.
Three years in, they sell a variety of sleepwear – ranging from shorts and pants to tank tops and dresses – to provide every woman with the option she finds most comfortable.
At it’s core, Lunya isn’t about luxury sleepwear. It’s about the way you feel wearing the clothes and engaging with the brand.
Lunya is about empowering women, being relatable, and lifting people up.
Stellar fabrics and designs are meaningless without a brand to back them up.
For Ashley, when a customer makes their first Lunya purchase, “it’s not about the sale.”
“I care about her emotional response to our company,” she asserted.
Every interaction is an opportunity to create an evangelist.
Now more than the ever the team is developing deep relationships with each of their customers.
“Our first customers are taking a chance on us. They are the people who are going to help us survive as a brand and make us into the company we want to be in the long term.”
The only way to achieve that is for your customers to find themselves in your brand.
Ashley and her team distill this to the most granular level; Analyzing the words they use on their hangers to ensure they fit the empowerment and intentional aspects of their mission.
What is the specific message you want to send and nothing else?
Authentically living your values is rooted in building an extremely dedicated team.
Ashley’s most important hiring lesson thus far is that you need to “choose each other” when you’re bringing on team members.
“The early days you’re desperate to hire people because you’re underwater, but you don’t want to try and make something fit.”
Be confident and selective. The right people are immediately obvious.
“Don’t push people to become happy and excited. When they’re bought in they’ll make decisions on their own; Not because you told them to but because they want to and believe it’s the right answer.”
While it’s impossible and unwise to optimize for consensus at a startup, as a founder it’s important to Ashley that each team member feels their voice is heard making company decisions.
“Even if it’s not what they chose they understand how we got to the solution,” she said.
“Lunya is a revolutionary approach to sleepwear. We’re making unexpected design choices, and each of us is constantly doing things we’ve never done before. We want to embrace that. We want to be different.”
The team’s next challenge is raising awareness and finding more ways for customers to feel and interact with the clothing. If you’re in Santa Monica, you can make an appointment to visit the showroom here.