Build the bridge is a series of articles that showcases international entrepreneurs who foster business collaborations across the world.
Founded by Morgan Hermand-Waiche, Adore Me is a women’s intimate e-commerce platform selling affordable and high-quality lingerie, activewear, swimwear, and sleepwear.
Morgan Hermand-Waiche is a French entrepreneur who studied in the US and managed to build a successful business there. In 2012, he launched Adore Me, which quickly became a huge success and started to compete with other big companies well established in the American market.
Morgan participated in La French Touch Conference twice: in 2014 and in 2016. He is one of those who make France shine internationally: We decided to ask him about his success story.
1) What sparked the idea of launching Adore Me?
The idea of Adore Me was born when I was trying – as a broke MBA student at Harvard Business School – to buy lingerie for my girlfriend as an anniversary gift and couldn’t find a single item that was both fashionable and affordable. This led me to look into the lingerie market, which I quickly learned was anything but angelic: this $24B market was monopolized by one player that offered high prices compared to its products’ quality; slow fashion – launching only 3-4 new collections per year; and a limited size range – this monopoly doesn’t cater to women over a size 10, effectively sidelining more than a third of American women.
I was determined to revolutionize the lingerie industry with the innovative vision that every woman, no matter her dress size, deserves high-quality lingerie that won’t break the bank.
2) Adore Me quickly became popular in the USA. How would you explain your success?
Much of the company’s success is due to the key innovations in the U.S. lingerie market that simply didn’t exist before Adore me was introduced.
First, our main innovation is that Adore Me is inclusive compared to its competitors. While 67% of the U.S. retail market is plus-size, the main player has historically made women feel sidelined by not offering above a size 10. Instead of having plus-size women purchasing lingerie at niche brands, Adore Me constitutes as a one-stop shop for women of all sizes, from petite to plus.
Secondly, Adore Me is fast-fashion: While other players in the market launch collections 4 times a year, Adore Me launches a new collection of 40-60 designs every single month.
Last but not least, Adore Me is offering these added values while cutting prices by more than half and offering affordable fashion. By avoiding the high costs of prime retail locations in addition to working without any middleman – Adore Me can cut prices by more than half compared to competitors.
3) You are French and you founded your company in the US. Why?
While I was still completing my MBA at HBS, I decided to start Adore Me then and there – enlisting my professors as my first investors. Thus, the choice of starting in the U.S. was a natural fit.
4) Do you plan to open an office in France?
Yes – regarding future plans, Adore Me is planning to broaden its international reach. We’re currently strengthening our stance in Canada and launched Adore Me in Australia in 2017.
5) How would you define the “French Touch”? In what way does Adore Me have a French Touch to it?
As beautiful lingerie is synonymous with the French culture – my vision of designing beautiful lingerie to every woman aligns very well.
4) Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who want to enter the American market?
Dare to be bold and different. A key to Adore Me’s success is that our goal from day one was to disrupt the market and create a revolution in the lingerie industry.
5) You participated in La French Touch Conference twice. What do you remember from your participation? What makes you come back? How did it help your business?
There’s the great value of sharing best practices with other entrepreneurs. The European startup scene is very hot, and the U.S. can learn a lot from it. What sets La French Touch Conference apart from many other conferences is that they gather entrepreneurs from both the U.S and Europe.
6) Could you define your entrepreneurial philosophy in a few words?
I always stress the importance of trusting a balanced mix of intuition and data. When looking into additional product categories, new countries, retail opportunities, etc. – I let the data show which direction to go when making decisions.