New DTC toolkit   //   December 5, 2023

Birdy Grey is tapping leaders with DTC experience to build out its C-suite

More people are taking seats at the C-suite of bridal company Birdy Grey.

The direct-to-consumer brand appointed Tanya Hersh — who held senior marketing roles at The Honest Company and Boosted Commerce — to be its first chief marketing officer. Last month, the company also named a chief technology officer and a chief operating officer. Its new chief technology officer, Brendan Hastings, spent seven years at period brand Thinx, while its new chief operating officer, Cat Chen, was one of the first employees at The Honest Company.

For most of its existence, Birdy Grey’s two founders Grace Lee and Monica Ashauer had mainly been responsible for the company’s operations. With the exception of 2020, Birdy Grey has been profitable since its inception and is now in a position to fill out executive positions to support its next phase of growth. The company said it generates eight figures in top-line revenue and is positioned to generate nine figures in sales by next year.

As a company that operates purely through its own DTC website, CEO Lee told Modern Retail that finding candidates with experience with digitally-native brands is crucial. “It’s most relevant to our product,” Lee said. “You have to work in a DTC environment to really understand how the Birdy Grey machine works.”

Birdy Grey offers affordable options for bridesmaid dresses at $99. With thousands of SKUs available, the company also sells bridal shoes, robes and groomsmen suits. The company declined to share specific financial figures but said it has grown 25% year-over-year this year. 

“In the early days, as most startups do, we were pretty flat as an organization,” Lee said. “We could only afford to hire managers, and every manager was like a one-person show.”

The company now has six people in its executive team — five out of six are women. Lee said that the company chose to hire C-suite executives in areas that it plans to develop. For example, the company carved out a CTO role to improve its data infrastructure and website. It also hired a CMO to spearhead Birdy Grey’s customer engagement initiatives and customer retention efforts. 

It currently has around 50 employees in between California, New York and Philadelphia. And while all the spots in its C-suite is already filled, Birdy Grey plans to make additional GM and vp-level hires. Lee said that the company is looking to add more talent in production and manufacturing as it plans to expand into new categories. 

“It took us a while to understand what we wanted and what works best for the culture of the company and for our working styles,” Lee said. “At the end of the day, we really love people who are entrepreneurial, scrappy, who can be strategic, big picture thinkers but also, if needed, can roll up their sleeves and do the work.”

It’s not unusual for emerging brands to make C-level hires at a short period of time, said Polly Wong, president of marketing firm Belardi Wong. In some cases, she said startups begin filling out their C-suites when they receive a significant amount of funding. She added that brands could also look for leaders that possess the skills needed for brands to succeed in this operating environment. For example, more retailers have been looking to hire tech leaders amid the industry’s growing investments in technology.

However, making significant hiring decisions all at once can be risky. Wong said that brands must hire leaders that have a strong understanding of the core customers, products and brand positioning. In recent years, executive-level shuffles have become more common with some leaders only staying in the role for a few months. For example, Serta Simmons‘ CEO resigned from his role after only three months and Academy Sports and Outdoors‘ president left after six months in the position.

“If you make too much change too fast, you could disrupt the business in a negative way,” Wong said. 

Heading into 2024, Lee said that the brand has plans to adjust its assortment to make room for the style preferences of younger millennials and older Gen Z shoppers. The company also has plans to re-evaluate its pricing strategy.

“In terms of assortment like, what you see today is not the assortment that you’ll see next year,” she said. “We’re really hustling to expand the assortment that caters to her style.”