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The stories of three flourishing startups as they share the successes, struggles and secrets behind their growth.

EP3: Desmond & Dempsey

Molly Goddard’s habit of lounging in her husband’s business shirts at weekends sparked the idea for Desmond & Dempsey, their high-quality yet affordable pyjama brand.

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Episode 3: Desmond & Dempsey

"I couldn’t find any pyjamas that I liked that didn’t cost hundreds of pounds. So we thought, why can’t we make them?"

The idea for Desmond & Dempsey came about when its founders identified a gap in the market – in this case, for high-quality yet affordable pyjamas.

Molly Goddard had been searching for an alternative to her husband’s business shirts that she had taken to wearing when lounging at home on the weekends. ‘Joel finally had enough when he had to go into a meeting with a Vegemite stain on his sleeve,’ says Australian expat Molly. ‘But I couldn’t find any pyjamas that I liked that didn’t cost hundreds of pounds. So we thought, why can’t we make them?’

With zero experience manufacturing clothing, the pair were faced with a steep learning curve. ‘So it was a lot of trial and error,’ says Joel Jeffery. ‘We had no idea about sewing or even where to buy fabric.’ The first 100 pairs of pyjamas went on sale online in September 2014. ‘We sat up all night watching the analytics,’ says Molly. ‘We thought we might get a few orders but we [only] got one,’ adds Joel. But sales quickly began to rise. Further proof of success came in the form of orders from department store heavyweights – although this did force a rethink of their e-commerce-focused business plan.

‘When Bergdorf Goodman knocks on your door, you’re not going to say, “Oh, no thank you”,’ says Molly. Now the pair aim for a combination of 80% e-commerce and 20% wholesale. While their five-year plan includes adding new product lines, for now Molly and Joel are focusing on their core product. ‘We want to be a household name,’ says Molly. ‘The goal is for your top drawer to have D&Ds in it – not PJs.’

Tip for growth: Never underestimate the power of good customer service

Molly and Joel relentlessly go above and beyond to please their customers and their efforts have paid off. One mystery shopper was later revealed to be a Vogue editor, who has since become a vocal supporter. ‘Everyone says you can build a business using social media and influencers, but it’s not really about that,’ says Molly. ‘It’s about genuine personal connections.’