The idea to create the brand came at the end of 2013. It was during the Christmas period, and we were watching Curly Sue with friends. Kelly Lynch who played Grey Ellison wears an amazing striped robe during one scene. That night, Katya had a dream where she was standing in the middle of a pyjama factory. In the morning, she called me proposing we start the business. Six months later, Sleeper launched its first collection. Two months after that, the then-editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, named Sleeper ‘brand of the month’. Since then, Christmas has been our favourite time of year.
Before we launched Sleeper, it was challenging to find elegant and chic nightwear outside of the luxury end of the market, never mind loungewear that could be worn outdoors. We came up with the idea of pyjamas you can wear outside – a pyjama top you could wear to the office instead of a regular shirt; a robe that can function as a summer coat, and silk white PJs that can serve as a wedding outfit.
We were both unemployed when we started the brand. Katya left her position as editor-in-chief of PINK online to pursue religious studies, and Asya left her job as fashion editor for ELLE Russia and moved to Kiev to be with her fiancé. We had both racked up a lot of experience, and were ready to create something new, that really belonged to us. It was also at that point a revolution started on the streets of Kiev. We both participated in marches; Katya was a true Maidan activist. The political climate made us evaluate our true values. All our fears vanished completely. We stopped being afraid and were ready to start a new chapter. We came up with the idea of creating a company with its own voice.
Our first collection consisted of 24 black-and-white cotton PJs. The next steps happened organically – when summer came, we started to think about what we want to do moving forward. The immediate answer was beachwear and loungewear. That’s how our bestselling off-the-shoulder loungewear dress was created.
The most important thing for us is to create a great business. We feel our best when we see our growing team of people doing their best every day and are fulfilled by what they do. We know we’re on the right path when we’re content with ourselves and improving both professionally and personally.
We have very different roles in the business. Asya is based in New York where she oversees sales, marketing, content and customer support. Kate manages the company in Kiev and is in charge of PR, HR, operations and finances. But we do oversee the design process together, because our differences complement each other. Kate thrives on art, history, colours and texture, whereas Asya is inspired by modern design, architecture, forms and shapes. The best solutions are somewhere in the middle.
When we launched we had no design experience, just $2,000 in savings and a dream. We didn’t have any budget to do paid ads but we really wanted to tell our story. Instagram was the perfect way to express ourselves and get immediate feedback from our audience. We can see the photos of our clients in our garments and we read all the comments. We truly believe happy customers are the best advertisement.
Leandra Medine, Katy Perry, Brie Larson, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Veronika Heilbrunner and many others have worn Sleeper pieces. We’re proud and grateful to receive so much support from women who we’re inspired by. And remember that Kelly Lynch story? Our biggest pinch me moment was when she became our client. She wore our black-tie pyjama set.
When it comes to styling we like layering our silk slip dresses with a sweater for chilly days. For the linen dresses from our new SS20 collection, complement them with sandals, pumps, mules and even combat boots to balance out the feminine look. And then for the PJ sets, combine a silk or cotton white top with jeans or trousers and a jacket. PJ tops make any outfit look more fun.
Kate is in love with our new oversized sets. She wants them in every single colour and is planning to wear them until it’s too cold. Asya’s favourite piece is the Kamchatka black silk pyjamas – she’s been wearing her set for about three years now and it’s a hero for travel and business meetings, alike.
We want Sleeper to be known as a brand that makes people dress for themselves and for their loved ones, for their family, for the people they spend time at home with. Not for the strangers on the street or at the bar.
Our biggest goal is to create our own production facility with the best working conditions for our employees. We’d like to have an educational centre and masterclasses.
We’d like to begin physical sales in pop-up stores, as well as seasonal sales at resort locations during the summer. We’re hoping these will give us an idea for where we should open our first brick-and-mortar store. Naturally, we’re envisaging Sleeper on high streets all over the world.
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