There’s something to be said for that true Italian style, and Ariel Kaye is a fan, tried-and-true. It was during a six-month study abroad stint in college that she first fell in love with all things Italy. For her, it wasn’t just the textiles, craftsmanship and artisanal products, but the level of expertise and pride the Italians had for their craft that stuck.
Once back in the States and post college, the soon-to-be home goods goddess, took a job in New York advertising and spent years working with big corporate clients. She fell in love with building brands, connecting with people and adding value to customers, but often found herself occupying her time with other, more creative passions (sorry Burger King!). An interior design blog in grad school and an undying love of helping her friends and family decorate their homes helped her to realize that design was where her heart was.
“In my career I realized I was missing that aspect of building something and having a true impact,” she explains. “I’d find that when people asked me what I did, I’d want to say I was an interior decorator.”
Originally from LA, her friends back home were all building businesses and carrying with them an incredible passion, excitement and drive. And she wanted that. “I wanted to build something. I wanted to do something crazy and cool… something I could be proud of.”
She knew it had to be in the home goods arena, and when looking for a company to work for, found there wasn’t one.
So she decided to create her own.
“I believed in building a brand that cared about wellness, and considering that sleep is so important to your health and we spend a third of our lives in bed, the bedroom seemed a perfect place to start,” Ariel says matter of factly. And, as someone who had worked on the business side of connecting with customers, she laughs when she says, “There’s no better place to actually build a relationship with clients than when you’re actually, quite literally, in bed with them.”
Now that she had her angle, the young entrepreneur dug deep into research into the sheet market, and remembered back to her incredible experiences in Italy. “Everything is just so dreamy there,” she explains. “Like the table wine, things are made with such a different level of quality.” It was that quality and that culture that she aimed to recreate with her linen’s company.
What she found in her research was the lack of a middle market in America for sheets. “Everything was either super high quality and expensive, or mediocre at best if affordable. There was no brand loyalty. People had no idea what kind of sheets were on their bed!”
Knowing she was on the right track, she named her brand Parachute after the billowing movement the fabric makes when you make your bed, and immediately got to work. She quit her job and went straight to Europe, visiting 15 factories throughout Portugal and Italy.
Staying true to the quality that had inspired her, she made sure she was Oeko-Tex Standard certified, meaning no toxic chemicals or artificial dyes are used in any of her products. From the fabric to the threads to how they are woven, everything is made to the most highly regulated standards— and won’t harm you, nor the environment.
Additionally, if she had a company that was providing amazing sleep for so many she wanted there to be meaning behind it. Parachute partnered with the UN’s Nothing but Nets, which provides life-saving malaria bed-nets to people in Africa, offering not just comfortable sleep, but safe sleep to thousands. Now, they have become one of their biggest donors donating $100,000 last year alone.
Parachute opened its flagship store in Ariel’s hometown of Venice Beach in January of 2014. Ariel wanted to be in a place where you can be inspired by the ocean and mountains, while being outdoors year round. “Venice is the quintessential green juice/yoga studio type of place and I really feel like that’s an important thing for our customers and the brand. It has that focus on taking care of yourself, being rested, and comfortable,” she explains.
And her little home goods brand has done so well in fact, that in October of 2016, they’ve just ventured into the hotel market, opening The Parachute Hotel above their Venice shop. The 2,200-square foot penthouse features an open floor plan and can host up to 4 people, or for the right event in its outdoor space, up to 75. It’s Ariel’s way of providing an immersive experience for her customers, and now guests… letting them get to know her products in the most authentic (and Italian) way possible. Ciao!
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. In her opinion ‘Italian style’ is the right kind of style… every single time. Find Lindsay at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.