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Emmett Shine on Pattern’s Big Pivot

“We got our teeth kicked in with Covid”
August 20, 2021

Emmett Shine doesn’t seem to like the word pivot. But that’s exactly what Pattern Brands did when it announced a new round of funding and a new acquisition last month.

Pattern, founded by Nick and Emmett of Gin Lane fame, launched in 2019 with two brands for the home, and a mission to help millennials “enjoy daily life”; but found themselves faced with headwinds in the Spring of 2020. In a longform interview with Future Commerce, he recounted what it felt like to be building a startup during such a tumultuous period of time: 

[We were] being pushed out of factories by a larger cookware brand or a larger home goods brand. We're trying to place a fifty thousand dollar purchase order... And then someone comes through with the five million dollar purchase order… where is the priority going to go? And we're not the only people facing this. It's what a lot of people faced.

To the core team, Pattern’s north star hasn’t changed. The mission to help millennials avoid digital burnout by reconnecting with the home, and enjoying daily life, has effectively broadened: instead of Pattern incubating brands, it will now also acquire them. Emmett elaborates on the shift to buy-versus-build:

I'll try anything just to make the overall mission work, which is enjoy daily life through responsibly made, high quality, design centric products for the home that are tactile and analog and make you a little bit hopefully focus on a moment… How we get there, I'm just trying to read the winds and navigate through a storm that my sailboat didn't anticipate.

That “anything” he’s referring to is acquiring new brands, specifically those in the Shopify DTC set. The smaller, the better. Their first acquisition, GIR, short for “Get it Right”, which specializes in kitchen utensils. They now have an open application for DTC brands looking for acquisition on their website, which has also pivoted to become a marketplace for their wares.

The co-founder describes himself as resilient and determined. “Above all, I'm a survivor. I want to make things work. And so the term pivot, it's not unfair. I just think of it as an evolution.”

The physical, and spiritual, evolution of Pattern is covered in great detail in our interview, available now wherever you get your podcasts.

We’ve Reached the Point in the Cycle. As other department stores are waving the white flag, Amazon is moving further into the brick and mortar space and plans to open their own department stores. Starting out with California and Ohio locations, the stores will carry clothing and household items, as well as electronics. Forrester’s Sucharita Kodali on the development: “I’m skeptical. If the Amazon 4-Star stores were good, or they actually opened as many Go stores as people thought they would, I’d be more bullish. But [brick and mortar] dept stores have been declining since 9/11. I don’t think anyone will reverse that, not even Amazon.”

Tiger Uppercut. Tiger Global continues to flex with a jump into the headless commerce space. They’ve backed Nacelle, a headless commerce platform, to the tune of $50M, six month after Inovia invested $18M. That’s a lot of cheese. The market for headless is heating up. As we discussed in The Senses in July: Headless is an implementation detail. But that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t asking for it. Marketing campaigns often create demand for products that are ill-aligned to customer needs. Who actually needed a Hemi engine in their Chrysler 300? Nobody.

$SFIX? More like $SQUIT. Stitch Fix ditches remote work, and as many as 1,500 of their workers have made an exit. The styling company—which was previously built on employees who worked as few as five hours a week, any time they were able—recently sent out emails stating that employees must now work 20 hour minimum weeks and adhere to a set daytime schedule. Workers were also offered $1,000 to quit if they couldn’t abide by the new hours. 

This comes after Stitch Fix laid off 1,400 employees in California in 2020, in order to hire cheaper labor from other states. Apparently, some employees think they are just being replaced by computer generated algorithmic recommendations.

Brownie Inspiration. The Girl Scouts are adding a new cookie to their line up next year. Well sort of… it’s more like a brownie in the shape of a cookie with a caramel center and a hint of sea salt with a delicate drizzle. Dessert semantics aside, they sound delicious, and with a name like “Adventurefuls,” they’re sure to thrill taste buds next cookie season. And it just goes to show—when you can’t sell your old cookies, just come up with a new cookie.

Wanted: Metaverse HistorianBungie, maker of Destiny 2, is looking to cash in on the oral history of their own metaverse. They are hiring a ‘Destiny historian’ to make sure someone is keeping track of all the lore within their world building. Virtual worlds are officially old enough to need a librarian.

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