Super Cities №229—Atlanta's Pajama Empire

Brendan Hart

Increase revenue for 30 years straight. Serve 90% of young parents. Grow annual sales to $3.5 billion. Increase profits by 18% quarter over quarter. Operate 1000+ stores and own 25% of a giant, recurring market.

The real secret to growing an Atlanta-based kids pajama empire? Turn would-be competitors into mega buyers and distributors.

Twenty years ago, as reported by The Post, Carter’s made a strategic power play. Rather than go head-to-head, it positioned itself as a partner to Target. Why be one-of-many clothing options on a crowded retail floor when you can spin-out an exclusive line for one of America’s largest retailers?

Carter's everyday basics rebranded as Just One You Made. This new brand created a feel-good, differentiated shopping experience for the parents, grandparents, and buyers walking through Target. After all, babies deserve something new, fresh, and fun.

Carter’s later used the partner-not-foe approach to strike exclusive partnerships with Walmart and Amazon. By offering low-cost, just-for-you products, the baby pajama maker subverted the retail industry’s apex predators.

What followed was an increasingly powerful consumer brand with premier multi-channel distribution. It does one and only one thing – sell cute, affordable clothes for kids – better than any other company. In contrast, as one mother noted, "When I go to Old Navy, I end up shopping for myself and my husband and my dog."

We live in a tech-everything world, but building an incredible business is still about the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. Above all, it requires an almost insane level of focus.

Sometimes straightforward formulas are hard as hell. Starting with affordable, enjoyable experiences is a damn good place to start.

Share