How Monica Royer Built a Successful Children's Brand and E-Commerce Site

Monica Royer is founder and CEO of Monica and Andy.

Tell me about Monica + Andy, when did you realize that there was need for a brand like yours?
MR: Before I had my daughter, I was thinking of about starting a women's brand. My brother launched Bonobos, a men's apparel, about 10 years ago. I learned a lot by just watching what he did and what happened on a day-to-day. He had a lot of incredible business advisors (and I certainly don't profess to be one of them), but we're probably each other's biggest personal advisors and so I helped and worked with him. By the time I had my daughter, I saw a huge void in the marketplace (literally, while laying in the hospital bed). The minute my daughter was placed in my arms, I realized there was a real opportunity in the children's space and I wanted to go after it.

What are some things you learned working with your brother?
MR: The first is that’s really hard to have a startup. The fact that I even went on and did it myself is a little bit crazy. But I think what I saw is that if you hit the right market, with the right product, really magical things can happen. You can really evolve and build a brand if you have the right team. I saw my brother be able to do that, and it was exciting to think that we may be able to do something similar.

What are some of those magical factors?
MR: When you have a retail brand, great product is key. If you don't have product that people are absolutely going to love, there's no point in coming out to the market. That said, a great product is never enough. I think you need to have exceptional customer service, and you have to look at every business differently. I can't go with Monica + Andy in 2017 and do what my brother did to make Bonobos successful in 2007. You have to evolve to the time and to the market.

For Monica + Andy, a lot of that was based on experiential retail. We knew right away that we wanted online and guide-shop channels. That’s because we knew what great customer acquisition tools Bonobos’ guide-shops were for them. The important factor was in making it unique to our customer.

Think through what unique retail experiences you can bring. The future of family retail is experiential. People will come to live and love the brand, if you can get them to live in your store.

The video version of this interview will run on on August 30, 2017.