With e-commerce getting bigger every year, there are many companies that decide to do everything on their own. Nowadays, it is possible to sell your products directly to customers online, rather than trying to win over buyers at department stores.
These are called “direct-to-consumer brands,” and they are completely disrupting the retail industry. Here are some of the top-ranking brands of 2019.
Co-founders Randy Goldberg and David Heath were working at a startup when they learned that the number one most requested items at homeless shelters were socks. They wanted to give back, but also make a product that people love. So in 2013, they launched a company called Bombas, which sells nothing but high-quality socks in all different shapes, colors, and sizes.
Right from the get-go, they guaranteed that for every pair of socks you buy from Bombas, they will donate a pair to someone in need. And if you decide to return your socks to Bombas, they will take them back if you wash them first because they will be donated to a homeless person. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the shoe company TOMS did it first, by donating pairs of shoes to children in third world countries. Clearly, this method works. After advertising that they had the goal of donating one million pairs of socks that year, this startup quickly grew to a $100 million company.
The mattress industry is worth billions of dollars, but no one really enjoys going to a mattress store. Casper has been called “The Millennial’s Mattress.” At first, the founders got a lot of pushback, because no one believed that anyone would actually be willing to buy a mattress online. Even though they had a lot of doubt coming their way, they had a clever marketing campaign where they sent free mattresses to influencers in exchange for a review.
Once customers saw examples of their favorite YouTubers and celebrities talking about Casper, this fostered more trust in the company, and they began to gain in popularity. On top of that, there was also a growing concern with “self-care”, which includes sleeping better. So they fully took advantage of the trends. Today, Casper has a valuation of $1.1 billion.
Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield started a company called Harry’s Shave Club in 2013. They send you a monthly box with a brand new razor and shaving cream to your door so you never have to think about going out for a new razor again. Harry’s also sells other products like lotion, aftershave, shaving cream, and soap. Harry’s has high-quality razors manufactured in Germany.
In 2019, it was announced that Edgewell Personal Care, the company that owns Schick, would purchase Harry’s Shave Club for $1.37 billion. Even though they started as a direct-to-consumer brand, they have now branched out to selling in Wal-mart and Target.
For anyone who owns a dog, you might already be in the habit of buying your pet new toys and snacks on a regular basis. BarkBox will send you a box of canine products for $22 to $29 per month. The items you get each month are always a surprise, so it’s like getting a present in the mail. They have served over 2 million customers and have over 500,000 monthly subscribers to their service. Their social media following is also massive. BarkBox had $250 million in sales in 2018 alone, and their numbers keep increasing every year.
The success of this company may come from the fact that its employees are truly passionate about what they do. Employees of BarkBox HQ in New York City are allowed to bring their dogs to work, and their office is a canine paradise. The company is filled with fellow dog owners, they have a real sense of what their customer is looking for. The founder, Henrik Werdelin, spent 15 years helping entrepreneurial startups get acquired by larger companies. Aside from BarkBox, he also owns a company called PreHype and has offices in New York, Copenhagen, and London.
Shopping for a car in real life can be a total nightmare. You have to devote an entire day (or weekend) to driving around to various dealerships. Car salesmen are often very pushy and you might end up buying a lemon. But of all the things you would buy online, a car is probably the last thing you would ever imagine purchasing sight unseen. (Unless it’s a Tesla.) But this is exactly what Carvana offers. You can choose a car online by make and model. The vast majority of their cars are only former lease models that are one to five years old, so they are used, but in like-new condition. Prices are actually amazing, and often cheaper than going to a dealership.
Carvana’s website includes a very detailed 360-degree photograph that will show you exactly what the inside and outside of each car looks like. Once you order a vehicle, they will deliver it right to your doorstep so that you can have a seven-day test drive. If you decide you don’t want the car, they will pick it up and take it back free of charge, no questions asked. While this is still a new concept, there may be a lot more people buying cars online in the future.
Razors are one of those things that everyone has to use, so it only makes sense that you might want it delivered to your door on a regular basis. Nowadays, there are several direct-to-consumer brands that sell razors to their customers, and Dollar Shave Club was one of the first. Mark Levine and Michael Dubin started Dollar Shave Club in 2011.
In 2016, the company was acquired by Unilever for an impressive $1 billion. Nowadays, they have extended their product range to include dental care as well. The products are still available online and can be delivered to your door on a monthly basis.
Glossier is a beauty brand that was founded by Emily Weiss, who was formerly a writer who created a blog called “Into the Gloss” in 2010. She would write product reviews and interview people in the beauty industry, and it eventually grew into a large online publication. In 2014, Weiss began selling her Glossier products through Instagram. The goal of Glossier was to sell beauty products that could give women a natural look without oversexualizing or glamorizing makeup.
During an interview with Time, Weiss explained that women in the professional landscape are expected to look like they don’t care too much about their appearance by putting on globs of makeup, but they need to look very presentable and put together at the same time. So all of Glossier’s makeup focuses on enhancing your natural beauty.
These products were used by other social media influencers who were willing to share their feedback on the makeup. This caused a ripple effect where more and more beauty bloggers were talking about the brand, and Glossier soon had over 400,000 followers that first year. Today, they have 2.4 million followers. They have two flagship stores- one in New York and one in Los Angeles. The vast majority of their sales still come from online customers.
If you are a fan of the YouTuber Casey Neistat, you may recognize Love Billy! because it’s a jewelry company owned by his wife, Candice Pool Neistat. For years, Candice and her former business partner had a jewelry brand called Finn that was sold in traditional stores like Barneys New York. When her partner decided to leave the business behind, Candice still had a passion for making jewelry. So she founded Love Billy.
The brand specializes in gold and silver tag necklaces, and they also have other merchandise. Since her husband, Casey, has over 10 million YouTube subscribers, it did not take long for fans to find her merchandise online. Every once in a while, the brand will have a pop-up shop in New York City or Los Angeles where people can buy their products in person. But for the most part, they primarily sell online.
In recent years more people have been embracing minimalism. This is not just about buying fewer things that will clutter up your shelves. Some people are now subscribing to the idea of wearing a “life uniform” or a capsule wardrobe. This is when you only have a few staple pieces of clothing that you rotate on a daily basis. ADAY specializes in selling high-quality capsule wardrobes for busy women on the go.
The idea is that you can take an easy carry-on wardrobe when you travel, and still manage to look good every day of your trip. They claim to have “technologically advanced fabrics” that are wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking, and offer UV protection. Each piece is a little over $100 each, so it is not exactly cheap. But the whole idea behind it is that these clothes are so well-made, it’s the only wardrobe you would ever need. For some people, it might help to reduce the stress of trying to find clothes that look good and save money overall.
Everlane is a clothing and shoe brand that focuses on selling basics. Their clothing is classic, like jackets, sweaters, and jeans, but they want to give very high-quality products at affordable prices. In 2016 alone, they made $100 million in sales. For years, CEO Michael Preysman swore he would never have a brick and mortar store and that everything would exist through e-commerce. However, they eventually relented and opened a brick and mortar location in New York City in order to bring more awareness to their brand.
They claim to have the “the world’s cleanest denim factory”. The facility recycles 98% of its water, and uses renewable energy sources. Preysman has also said that they are trying to figure out ways to make their company totally plastic-free by 2021. In an era where customers are more conscious of their impact on the environment, they just might inspire other companies to do similar campaigns for sustainability.
Remember Myspace? For years, musicians found their audience on the social media platform, and Jeffree Star was one of them. As a musician, Jeffree was a bit like David Bowie meets Marilyn Manson with his head-to-toe tattoos and makeup. He even got a record deal with Akon, who was responsible for launching Nicki Minaj’s fame. Fast-forward a few years later, and Jeffree Star ended his music career and began his own cosmetic company. After the fall of Myspace, he continued being an influencer on YouTube and Instagram, which helped grow his brand into a multimillion dollar company.
This year, Jeffree Star Cosmetics has been in the spotlight because of Shane Dawson documentary series about his company. They have their own lab and distribution center located in California, in order for them to make high-quality products in the USA. In November of 2019, Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star launched a collaboration called “Conspiracy,” and over 1 million units sold in less than an hour. This is the biggest product launch in all of e-commerce history- even bigger than billionaire Kylie Jenner. Only time will tell how huge Jeffree’s company will become from here on out.
Warby Parker all started with an honest question; “Why are glasses so expensive?” Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa were college students when they both wondered why it was so pricey for people to buy glasses. When Gilboa went on vacation, he accidentally left his $700 pair of glasses on an airplane. And for people who are having financial difficulties, it may be difficult if not impossible for them to get a new pair.
Vision Spring is a non-profit organization that provides glasses to people in developing countries. Luxotica is the major company that is manufacturing almost all eyeglasses. Warby Parker is able to provide glasses for much lower prices than Luxotica. For years, the company only existed online. They are willing to send up to five pairs to people for a home try-on. Now, they have brick and mortar retail locations and are valued at over $1 billion.
Founded by actress Jessica Alba, the Honest Company aims to make baby products that are all-natural and safe for your children. Their products are non-toxic and eco-friendly, so they will not harm the environment. When it comes to diapers, this is a big deal, because they end up getting tossed in landfills. On the company website, Alba says, “I created The Honest Company because you shouldn’t have to choose between what works and what’s good for you.”
Customers pay for a monthly subscription. They choose exactly which products they want delivered and what date it comes to their door each month. This is great for busy parents who don’t have time to go shopping, and they want to have products that they do not have to feel guilty about using. Back in 2015, the company was valued at $1.7 billion. Today, their “unicorn” status has gone down a bit as other competitors enter the marketplace. Now, they are worth more like $1 billion, but still going strong.
Cofounders of Allbirds, Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, wanted to use merino wool to create high-quality sneakers. This is far more sustainable than many of the materials that go into sneakers today. Their sneakers and socks are made with all-natural materials. Even the unnatural parts of the shoes, like the soles are made with recycled bottles. The cardboard boxes the shoes are shipped in are made with recycled paper, too.
The brand launched in 2017, and many people say that Allbirds are the most comfortable shoes they have ever worn. You can also wear Allbirds without socks because they are machine washable. After Allbirds became incredibly popular, even Amazon began to manufacture a ripoff of their style that costs just $35. According to reviews online, fans swear by the brand and become loyal customers.
Brilliant Earth is a company that specializes in selling engagement rings made with conflict-free diamonds. If you’re not aware, conflict diamonds are illegally traded in order to fund wars, specifically in Western Africa. In some cases, miners are abused and enslaved, which is why they are sometimes called “blood diamonds.” So Brilliant Earth wants to give people an option to buy affordable diamonds without the guilt. The entire process can be done online, and they even have a digital try-on feature where you can take a picture of your hand and they will show you what a ring would look like on your finger. They also offer customized styles that can be built from scratch.
In 2017, Brilliant Earth was caught up in a scandal. A YouTuber and diamond salesman named Jacob Worth claimed that he had done his research to prove that there is no way of actually tracking a diamond’s origins. Therefore, Brilliant Earth cannot possibly claim to know that they are selling a product that is truly conflict-free. The man was sued for defamation and they went to court for three months. They finally settled the issue, and Worth was forced to take the videos down. This incident still cast doubts in people’s minds about Brilliant Earth, but they still seem to be going strong with nearly 80,000 followers on Twitter and 631,000 followers on Instagram.
In 2013, Jake Kassan and Kramer Laplante founded MVMT watches in Los Angeles. They wanted to completely disrupt the overpriced watches that were available from most luxury brands. When they first launched, they began with a crowdfunding campaign. As promised, their watches were minimalist, and high quality. They connected with social media influencers who were willing to promote the brand, and have sold over one million watches in the past six years.
The brand has come under fire from critics who say that their quality is actually not that great. There is an entire documentary on YouTube by Teddy Baldassarre. In fact, in a podcast interview, they admitted to sourcing their watches from the Chinese manufacturer aggregate Alibaba for only $1 to $3 each and reselling them for $100 to $200 each. The founders continue to deny that this is the same product and that they design their watches from scratch before having them produced in China. If you’re still willing to try them out, you can get $15 off your first order with this link.
Rainer Castillo and Kyle Hency are the founders of Chubbies, which is a men’s clothing brand that specializes in shorts and outerwear. When they were in college, Castillo and Hency would wear wild clothing to class and searched for vintage clothes in thrift stores. They have a clever strategy of selling clothes that have nostalgic 80s and 90s vibes. During a trip to Lake Tahoe, they wore their own designs and carried several pairs of shorts with them in a backpack. Sure enough, people asked them where they bought their shorts and they had them ready to sell on the spot.
Chubbies has outerwear as well as everyday clothes. The friends launched a brand that was meant to target Millennials who love to focus on throwback style. They also took advantage of their understanding of meme culture to insert themselves into online marketing. The copywriting is also very clever, making people laugh with the descriptions of their clothing options. Chubbies has over 1.6 million followers on Facebook and 467,000 followers on Instagram. They have been doing well by staying consistent with their brand messaging, and focusing on the frat boy culture. For now, they have a loyal customer base, which makes it possible for them to sell directly to consumers online.
Bonobos is a men’s clothing brand that offers a variety of different clothes that are appropriate for the workplace. When the company first started in 2007, all they sold were pants. As time went on, they continued to launch more and more options for menswear, but they always made sure to do a lot of research into putting out a product that would be high quality, and comfortable. Bonobos mainly sells its products online, but there are also a few retail locations in New York City. These are called “guide shops” because you can try clothes on to see how they fit. However, you cannot buy them straight off the shelf. They can be tailored to fit your exact proportions and then sent to you in the mail.
In 2018, it was announced that Wal-mart was buying Bonobos for $310 million. The CEO of Bonobos, Andy Dunn, said during an interview on CBS This Morning that the company reached a point where they would either go public or sell the company. They chose to sell to Wal-mart because they knew the since they had recently acquired Jet, they were trying to get serious about e-commerce. They hope to be one of the major clothing brands that become a part of a huge move to rival Amazon.
For busy people who are constantly rushing places for work, it can sometimes be difficult to cook at home. And if they live in a busy city, going out for lunch can take an entire hour after standing in line, paying, and sitting down to eat. Soylent is a meal replacement shake that contains 20 grams of plant protein and 36 essential nutrients. It’s designed to keep you feeling full and get the proper amount of calories in a day without necessarily losing weight.
Buzzfeed has a video of three of their employees consuming nothing but Soylent for a week. Two out of three of them lost weight, and some actually felt that it helped them to have better nutrition compared to their normal diets of junk food and grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone who tries it seems to agree that it helps them save a lot of time. If you use this link, you can get $10 off your first order.
For women living in a big city, there’s a lot of pressure to look good at work and during social events. Sometimes, if a woman wears a dress more than once, it is looked down upon, especially if she is being photographed. The only trouble is that these designer clothes are incredibly expensive. This is where Rent the Runway comes in. For a monthly fee, you can get clothes delivered to your door so that you are always getting new and fashionable clothing items rotating in and out of your closet.
There’s also an option to rent clothes once before returning them. For example, you might be able to spend $200 to rent a dress that costs $1,500. They also have a page where you can buy their used clothing once it has been worn a few times by their customers at 75% off the retail price. Considering that these rental items had to be gently used, they are likely to be in better condition than most secondhand shops. If you use this link, you can get $30 off your first order.
Millennials love to spend their money on experiences rather than material things. So it makes sense that a luggage company like Away would become a successful direct-to-consumer brand. Away makes stylish “smart luggage” that comes with a built-in battery with USB plugs that allows you to charge your cell phone. It also has a digital lock for extra security. They also make expandable luggage that can become thicker to fit more items if you need it.
One of the great things about Away is that they have partnered with a nonprofit called Peace Direct, which helps to bring peace to places of conflict around the world. So every time you buy one of their suitcases, you can feel good knowing that you are helping a good cause. There are Away stores in New York City and Los Angeles, but otherwise, you would have to buy it online. If you use this link, you can get $20 off your first suitcase.
When you go shopping in a thrift store, you might spend hours scouring the racks before you find a really cute piece in your size that is nice enough to buy. While this can feel like a treasure hunt, it’s not always a great solution to consistently getting affordable clothes to fit in.
ThredUp is an online thrift store that allows you to search by brand and size. This way, you can see what is available right away. Prices are very affordable and offer up to 90% off retail. they also offer discount codes when you sign up for their mailing list. The company also offers “goody boxes” where you can receive 10 pieces of clothing and accessories in your size delivered to your door once a month. That way, you are always getting something new for your wardrobe.
The Trunk Club is a fashion styling service owned by Nordstrom. Their stylists will chat with you and help pick out clothing for you. When you first sign up for the website, you fill out what you are looking for as well as some of the issues you have when trying on clothing. For example, maybe you have long arms and it’s hard to find shirts that fit. They will take your measurements, as well as your goals, and send you a box of clothing to try on at home.
Everyone has an opportunity to preview the items and remove anything that does not suit you before they send the clothing. And once it arrives, you have the choice to either keep and purchase the items, or send them back. This is great for anyone who feels lost when they go into a clothing store. The one and only potential downside is that since the clothes come from Nordstrom, they can be a bit pricey at between $50 to $200 per item.
Everyone has to go furniture shopping at some point in their life. When you go to Ikea, it becomes an all-day event of parking, finding the furniture you want, packing it into the car, and building it with complicated instructions once you get home. And since it is so cheap, it’s never very comfortable. Most Ikea furniture gets donated or thrown away at the end of a lease. So for anyone who has experienced this, Burrow might be a great option the next time you need to buy a new couch.
Burrow sells couches, chairs, rugs, and accessories. Since their couches are modular, you can customize them to fit your space. There is even a built-in USB charger so that you can plug in your phone while you’re watching TV. They are easy to build and take apart, which is great for anyone who is young and likely moving from apartment to apartment. It may help you save money in the long run because if you want a bigger couch later on, all you need to do is buy additional modules to make your couch longer. Just like major furniture stores, Burrow also offers monthly financing. Delivery is free, and there is a 30-day return policy.
Have you ever wanted to get sheets that feel like they belong in a five-star hotel, only to realize that they cost hundreds of dollars? Snowe aims to sell luxury quality home goods for a discounted price. Founders Rachel Cohen and Andres Modak met at The Wharton School when they were earning their MBA. The couple decided to move back to New York City, and they were exhausted trying to find great quality items for their new apartment. They were not happy with the quality of the lower-end mass-market stores like Ikea, but places like William Sonoma were outrageously expensive.
There was no other company that offered an option in-between the two price points that offered a high-quality product. They realized that other people out there were most likely looking for the same help and that there was a huge potential for a direct-to-consumer brand. They work together with manufacturers in Italy and Portugal to import products that could last a lifetime. If you use this link to shop on Snowe, you can get $35 off your first order.
When you are looking to buy cookware, there are usually two camps. The first is the very cheap cookware that you can find for $10 in places like Wal-mart and Ikea. These will eventually become scratched, rusted, and need to be thrown out after a year or two of use. Then there are the professional quality brands like Le Creuset that are so high-quality, they will very literally last a lifetime, and could be passed down to your grandchildren. The only downside, of course, is spending $350 for just one frying pan. Great Jones aims to be somewhere in-between the two extremes. Their cookware is around $100 per piece, or you can save a bit more if you buy a bundle of 5 pieces for $400.
Founders Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis said during an interview with Forbes that they noticed a shift in Millennial behavior. Instead of sharing photos from restaurants, people are getting more pride from cooking from home. So they saw this as an opportunity to create a brand that would help make the process more enjoyable and up-to-date with how this generation uses cookware. If you use this link, you will get 15% off your first order.
Just like eyeglasses, the contact lens industry is controlled by just four major companies, and they all mark up prices unnecessarily high. Hubble wants to bring the same quality of contacts to people for lower prices. Hubble contacts offers your first box of 60 contacts (30 pairs) for just $1. It costs $30 per month afterwards, making it still only $1 per pair. Considering that the average box of contacts has 4 pairs for $25, this is significantly cheaper.
When you go to order on Hubble, they’ll have you take a quiz and enter your prescription information. You also have to put in your eye doctor’s information. If you swap out your contacts on a daily or weekly basis, the savings can seriously add up. Most people save hundreds of dollars when they switch to Hubble, and they have the added convenience of having the contacts delivered straight to their door.
Anyone who loves to cook already knows that places like William Sonoma charge an arm and a leg for their high-quality kitchenware. Misen aims to sell professional-quality cookware for affordable prices. The name Misen comes from the French culinary term ‘mise en place’, which means “to put in place.” This is used to describe having your station organized so that you are ready with ingredients and tools to get started cooking immediately. The idea is that if you buy Misen products, you will have everything you need to make great food.
One of the co-founders, Omar Rada, said that he was inspired when his friend lost his high-quality skillet. When he went to replace it, he was shocked to see how expensive it was. He had the same experience with knives. So he wanted to make a company that could offer high-quality cookware for affordable prices. His first Kickstarter campaign promised to sell Japanese kitchen knives for just $65. This became so popular, he earned over $1 million. Now, every time he wants to start a new product line on Misen, he goes to Kickstarter to get his initial funding. Then the products become available online.
Interior Define is a direct-to-consumer furniture brand. They have several different types of designs available to order. The company was founded in Chicago, but they now have several locations in New York, Austen, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Since anyone who orders online cannot see the furniture in person before you buy it, they allow you to order swatches ahead of time. Once a piece of furniture is ordered, they have the piece hand made in China to your exact specifications.
The founder and CEO, Rob Royer, started out as one of the early team members at Bonobos. He grew up with interior designers in his family, and he was surprised that there was not a company that focuses on just sofas. Most furniture companies make a little bit of everything, and they are not necessarily the best quality that they could be. Royer could see the potential of taking a piece of the multi-billion dollar furniture industry with a new direct-to-consumer brand. They aim to give very high-quality sofas that last for years, which is perfect for anyone looking to design their “forever home”.
Cofounders Tariq Dixon and Nick Nemechek started a furniture company called TRNK in 2013. They have “scoured the globe” to find furniture pieces that truly resonated with their sensibility. Dixon and Namechek wanted to create masculine luxury furniture. Many men simply buy an oversized leather sofa or a bean bag chair, but TRNK has an elevated style for grown-up bachelors living in the big city.
TRNK decides to curate collections of unique pieces of furniture, and then makes them available to buy online. During an interview with Architectural Digest, Tariq Dixon said, “Being a multi-brand site, we’re always on the prowl, looking for things that are different combinations of materials, different price points, so we have a really good understanding of the market and where we can add value to it.”