How Something Navy’s DTC Debut Sold $1 Million in Under 15 Minutes

Lisa Johnston
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Something Navy sells its own branded products and those curated by founder Arielle Charnas.

While it’s tempting to chalk up the issue of having more visitors than a website can handle as good problems to have, the truth remains that crashing from an influx is the stuff of e-commerce nightmares.

For Something Navy, a lifestyle brand founded in 2009 by fashion blogger and influencer Arielle Charnas, the company had an inkling of what it was up against for its retail entry: Charnas’ branded collection debut on Nordstrom in 2018 crashed that retailer’s website within the first hour.

Upon deciding to bring her brand in-house last year, as well as sell the third-party products she highlighted on social media, Charnas knew her new retail company required a robust digital foundation that could handle a busy opening day.  

“We were hoping on launch day that we would see a similar volume of traffic,” Caroline Nype, Something Navy associate VP of digital marketing, tells CGT, “and as a smaller startup company, building a website vs. a large infrastructure of a company like Nordstrom, we wanted to make sure that we were prepared.”

To prep for a potential traffic flood and provide a seamless checkout experience, the company partnered with e-commerce platform provider Nacelle. Because the two companies teamed during Something Navy’s site wireframing process, they had the opportunity to build the infrastructure from the ground-up — intertwining the tech throughout the site and eliminating any square-peg/round-hole dilemmas.

As Something Navy is led by a fashion influencer — Charnas counts more than 1.3 million Instagram followers — its business model centers around three core pillars: media, content and commerce. As a result, a cohesive search functionality was a priority for the customer journey, ensuring that a query for “dress” displayed branded products, third-party products and any relevant content. Presenting such an experience would more closely align the site with how Charnas engages with her social followers.  

Upon launching the site in July, Something Navy quickly sold out of products, successfully managing 100,000 unique sessions within the first 30 minutes. It recorded a 1.4 second website load for speed and 34 millisecond page-to-page change load, and the company sold more than $1 a million in less than 15 minutes.

“We had not anticipated the velocity that we saw. Obviously we bought into units that we thought we'd be able to sell based on our velocity projection, but I think we felt the inventory would last us a little bit longer than a day,” Nype admits. “It sort of blew our reporting structure out of the water, and we had to completely reevaluate how we were looking at the financial success for launches going forward.”

In addition to supporting Something Navy’s e-commerce capabilities, Nype says Nacelle has helped it provide a high level of customer interactivity — another top priority for the influencer-led brand.

“Our followers really are the heart of our business,” says Nype, “so making sure that the site was what they were expecting was incredibly important.”

Like all consumer goods companies, Something Navy has been navigating the challenges of shifting consumer demand during COVID-19. It’s pushed back plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in New York until fall, and has therefore relied more heavily upon its e-commerce site to meet revenue targets.

With that said, Nype says the recent events and shift to remote work have made the business stronger. “The fact that Arielle can really tap into her customer base through Instagram and from the safety of their own homes has been incredibly valuable to us as a business as we continue to try and scale, move forward, and figure out what types of products people are looking for in this current environment.”

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