Nudea co-founder Priya Downes: How my start-up is navigating COVID-19 crisis

Priya Downes, Nudea
Priya Downes, Nudea

For a start-up like Nudea, the Covid-19 pandemic is unfortunately timed for our journey. We had just started to build some great traction offline through our fit parties and pop-ups, both from a brand awareness point of view but also through sales.

In February, 40% of our sales were coming from these offline channels and, whilst we are a digital first brand, we do expect the inability to have a physical touch point will soften our growth trajectory in the very short term. In addition, the funding landscape is now very challenging and like many start-ups we have had to reassess our expenditures and cash flow over the next few months.

That said we believe our brand remains very relevant and will continue to remain so post COVID-19 too. Our comfort and fit message resonates strongly with the work-from-home status we are all embracing right now and we expect this shift in working habits to be semi-permanent post-COVID. Women always need bras, and all day comfort is more likely to be a top factor in wardrobe choices in general, Nudea is well placed for that.

Nudea: focused on fit and comfort

In addition we have a unique advantage over traditional lingerie brands in that our business is built around fitting at home; our bespoke tape measure and virtual fitting room are all designed for women to self-fit, thereby eliminating the need to go to a physical store.

Our operations are unaffected. Due to the success of our pop-ups and offline business, we decided to bring our fulfilment operations in-house to our studio in Marlow around two months ago before the pandemic. It was a decision that has unintended benefit of being able to continue to fulfil orders at a time where large-scale distribution centres have had to close. As a small business we can operate this safely with one person, which ensures minimal contact.

So although our overall sales took a dip from February, our online sales for the month of March were up 60% on February. We are also seeing our browsing and sessions times up, indicating the potential we have to weather the storm over the next few weeks.

We are also using this relative down time to re-think our product flow. For example, we are already thinking about fast-tracking loungewear pieces, something we had in the pipeline but perhaps with more people working from home this may make sense more immediately.

Whilst we are facing a challenge, we are optimistic about the opportunities that the shift in consumer behaviour will bring and we feel Nudea with its fit and comfort messages is well placed for that.

Priya Downs is co-founder of lingerie start-up Nudea.