Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A Baltimore judge overturns Adnan Syed’s conviction of his ex-girlfriend’s murder, the Las Vegas Aces win their first WNBA championship, and Nap Dress creator Hill House charts its expansion into fashion with fresh fundraising.
– The Nap Dress awakens. In certain corners of the internet, the pandemic has become synonymous with one clothing item (no, not sweatpants): the Nap Dress.
The $150 dress designed by the brand Hill House took off in 2020 as a comfortable yet stylish wear-all-day outfit. One of the brand’s “drops” of the dress earned more revenue in a day than Hill House took in all of 2019, garnering “$3 million in sales in 12 minutes,” the brand says. Now sold in more than a dozen colors and patterns, the dress’s launch marked Hill House’s pivot from home goods to fashion. The brand was originally launched as Hill House Home in 2016, offering bedding and other home products.
Nell Diamond, the 34-year-old founder, is leaning into this focus on fashion and recently raised a $20 million funding round to support the company’s growth, Fortune is the first to report. Beliade, an investor in brands like Van Leeuwen ice cream,Heyday Skincare, the boxing chain Rumble Fitness, and the influencer-led fashion brand Something Navy led the round.
Diamond and I spoke via Zoom earlier this month, where she wore a new Hill House style called the Louisa, made in response to customer requests for more bra-friendly options.
“With the Nap Dress, it was evident right away that this was something special,” Diamond said. About 88% of the brand’s sales are now in its fashion categories, which include a recently launched shoe and swimwear collection. It’s seen 300% growth each year for the past three years, according to Diamond.
But the brand’s growth has been slow and steady, preferring to build organically through word-of-mouth testimonies, rather than paid advertising. “We used to call it the group-chat effect,” Diamond said. “We would see a burst of customers on the site and be like, ‘Oh, there’s a group chat.’”
The company has grown internally, too. In 2020, it had only five employees. It now has 30.
While Hill House has developed into a more mature brand with plenty of digital advertising, Diamond still tries to design products that inspire the same kind of fervor as the Nap Dress. With her new funding, she plans to pursue a greater store presence (the brand’s only permanent outpost is in Nantucket, Mass.) and expand internationally (she’s eyeing London).
Though Hill House is adding to its fashion portfolio, the brand hasn’t forgotten its roots. “Fashion is top of the funnel for us,” she says. “But whenever you’re ready for new bedding or towels, we’ve got you.”
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Overturned conviction. A Baltimore judge overturned Adnan Syed’s murder conviction on Monday, though prosecutors have yet to decide if he will face a retrial. Syed was found guilty of the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee and sentenced to life in prison at age 17. The case garnered widespread attention and scrutiny when it was chronicled in season one of the podcast Serial in 2014. Fortune
- First-time champ. The Las Vegas Aces won their first WNBA championship on Sunday, defeating the Connecticut Sun 78 to 71. Aces head coach Becky Hammon, previously an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, became the first in WNBA history to win a championship title in a debut season as head coach. ESPN
- Join the party. With Facebook no longer deemed cool and text messages proving too difficult for coordinating events, Gen Z is turning to Partiful, a new platform for sending online invitations. CEO Shreya Murthy says the free-to-use platform has raised over $7.4 million and its user base is now in the hundreds of thousands. New York Times
- Frontrunner hesitations. It’s becoming increasingly likely that Giorgia Meloni, leader of Italy’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, will become the country’s first female prime minister ahead of its general election on Sunday. But Italian women have been hesitant to support Meloni’s platform, worrying that she may help erode women’s rights, including abortion access, if elected. Associated Press
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Pfizer has hired Maria Rivas as the global chief medical affairs officer and head of evidence generation. Edison Partners has named general partner Kelly Ford its first chief operating officer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Representing the accused. At the center of the defense trials for Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, and the convicted Nxivm sex cult founder is one lawyer: Jennifer Bonjean. A trained opera singer and former women’s rape crisis center worker, who originally went into law to become a prosecutor, Bonjean uses aggressive tactics to defend men accused of sexual misconduct and sow jury skepticism of the women who testify about their sexual abuse in court. New York Times
- Irish lessons. Ireland can serve as an example for Americans trying to garner bipartisan support for abortion rights in the post-Roe era. In 2018, the predominantly Catholic country repealed its eighth amendment, a near-total abortion ban, after proabortion activists focused their campaigns on the death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who was not permitted to terminate an inviable pregnancy in 2013 because it was not deemed enough of a health risk. Slate
- High commodity. The line, erm, queue, to see Queen Elizabeth II's coffin before her funeral on Monday was long and came with a high price tag. Bidding wars for wristbands that allowed mourners to see the late monarch broke out on eBay, despite the e-commerce site's vow to crack down on these listings. Some wristbands sold for as much as $51,323. Fortune
ON MY RADAR
How Drew Barrymore became a bizarro fixture of daytime TV New Yorker
The Woman King softens the truth of the slave trade Slate
Who cares what I wear at school drop-off? Me New York Times
The beauty industry disrupter from Dallas Bustle
“This year has not been the best year for me, but I've learned a lot about myself. Life is ups and downs, and this year was more down than up, but overall I'm pretty happy with where I am now.”
—Tennis player Naomi Osaka on not winning a title since last year's Australian Open.
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