We’ve reached a point of technological advancement in which if you are creative and reasonably adept at using a sewing machine, you have no excuse for not starting your own clothing line. (The operative word here is “creative.” There are enough ugly clothes out there.)
Kids’ clothing line Lolly Wolly Doodle is joining the ranks of Bonobos, Warby Parker, and Nasty Gal as the latest e-commerce company to take over the entire supply chain in designing, manufacturing, marketing, and shipping its own products. And the company is getting a big vote of confidence from the likes of tech heavyweight Steve Case, former CEO and Chairman of AOL and now co-founder of investment fund Revolution Growth. Lolly Wolly Doodle announced Thursday that it has raised $20 million in a round of funding led by Revolution Growth, with help from existing investors FirstMark Capital, Highline Venture Partners, and new investor Novel TMT Ventures.
The company’s story is pretty inspiring. Lolly Wolly Doodle got its start in 2008, when full-time mom Brandi Tysinger-Temple was making her daughters’ clothes and started putting some of her extras on eBay. The eBay store grew at such a rapid pace that Tysinger-Temple ended up recruiting her mother, aunts, nieces, and friends from church to help her sew, process orders, and ship the items.
When she put up a few items on Facebook, the response was so overwhelming that she ended up moving her entire eBay store over to Facebook, where her customer base grew exponentially. Today, LWD has more than 580,000 fans on Facebook.
The company specializes in monogrammed and customized orders, so an item isn’t produced until the order is placed, which solves the problem of unsold inventory.
All of the clothes are made in the USA, manufactured in a North Carolina factory that employs some 160 people. The company plans to use the capital from this round to hire an additional 100 people in North Carolina in operations and manufacturing, as well as to add more people to its technology and marketing team in New York City.
It’s worth noting that Lexington, North Carolina (where LWD’s factory is located) was once a thriving manufacturing and textile town, but as more companies have moved manufacturing overseas, the Lexington area has struggled with a high unemployment rate—10.7%, to be exact. There are lots of clothing lines that boast of the fact that their items are all made in the USA, but most of those factories are in LA and other large cities that haven’t been decimated by the recession. So give yourself a pat on the back, LWD customer!
“Lolly Wolly Doodle is a perfect example of our core belief at Revolution that great entrepreneurs and innovative companies can be found all across the country, not just in Silicon Valley,” said Revolution Growth co-founder Steve Case, in a statement. “Lolly Wolly Doodle proves affordable manufacturing can thrive in America - and Brandi is a true ‘Made in America’ entrepreneurial success story.”