How many retailers do you know that were founded and inspired by a woman who found herself crying alone with a baby stroller in a dressing room? Evereve’s husband and wife cofounders, Megan and Mike Tamte, pride themselves on being “the biggest women’s apparel retailer that you’ve never heard of.”
My first reaction upon visiting the website was, it’s an off-price world right now. So how does Evereve justify charging full price on brands like Free People, Michael Stars, and Revolve?
Style and Substance
When I hopped on a Zoom call with Robin Lewis to speak with the Tamtes face-to-face, I quickly received my answer. The women’s fashion retailer is as much styling company as it is a store. That’s because it was built to give women the opposite of what Megan Tamte experienced in a department store 24 years ago when she, as a new mom, and her infant were ignored by salespeople and she couldn’t find anything appropriate for her body.
At Evereve, 40 percent of the inventory is completely exclusive and 20 of those exclusive styles are designed by the team at Evereve. The company also owns three different in-house brands, and it is building out its own private label.
Everve was founded on the concept of empowering moms through fashion with a warm, friendly in-store experience. The Midwest-based brand was originally called “Hot Mama.” But the name was changed to “Evereve” a few years ago when the Tamtes realized that potential customers were under the impression that they only carried maternity clothes.
Evereve’s Core Mission
Evereve is a story of retail resilience and success in a pandemic world. The $150 million dollar company has 94 physical stores in the U.S., with plans to open over a hundred stores in the near future. It was recently added to Winona Capital’s brand portfolio. Megan and Mark Tamte continue to run the company, overseeing everything from product design to hiring.
So, what’s the reason that Evereve keeps growing while others falter post-Covid? The brand is rooted in the personal styling experience. The Tamtes attribute their success to three key pillars: customer service, fashion, and culture.
The Tamtes shake their heads when they talk about how department stores off-price chains cannibalize their full-price sales. They rarely discount Evereve merchandise and, when they do, it’s never marked down more than 10 percent. (Yes, this was true even during lockdown.) If there’s a key to their ability to maintain their pricing integrity in dire times, it’s the long-term relationships they are able to build with their customer demographic.
But it’s not just the hands-on styling experience that drives customers to Evereve’s stores and website. It’s the trust they build with each customer. If the brand itself could talk, it would say, “I see you because I AM you. I’ve been in your shoes. Here’s how I looked good while being there.” And that’s a message that customers don’t get from any ambivalent teen sales associates in many mainstream department stores.
The Evereve Customer
Evereve has done a better job of remaining true to their core customer over time than any brand I’ve encountered to date. For 24 years, the company has hired store associates from their existing customer base, like a fashion-forward version of Chicos. It’s this hiring strategy that allows Evereve stylists to address customers in their own voice. Store associates interface with clients on social media, and even hop in front of the camera to share how outfits look with plus-size customers.
Who is Evereve’s target customer? She’s a new mom, or a mom just getting her groove back that wants help with fashion. Mother’s Day is Evereve’s biggest sales day. “It’s our Christmas,” the Tamtes say.
Evereve’s target customer wants to wear contemporary styles but wants the trends she buys to be “age and size appropriate.” In fact, it’s this anxiety about wearing the “appropriate” thing for her age, body-type, family status, locale, and social stratosphere that bring customers to Evereve again and again. The stylists give customers “permission” to try certain trends to experiment with new looks.
The Tamtes consider Evereve’s style as “rock n’ roll.” I’d clarify that it’s rock n’ roll styled and modified to fit the comfort zone of Midwestern moms. Everything is chosen with Evereve’s core customer in mind. As millennials begin to hit Evereve’s target age demographic and the company expands stores into urban areas, the company may need to include clothing that takes greater risks. After all, many next-gens take pleasure in differentiation not identification. They may need inventory that’s a little more subversive to recruit urban millennial moms.
Trendsend and the Styling Experience
An impressive 65 percent of Evereve sales are still in store. The company also provides styling advice via its website (EVEREVE TV) and social media platforms. Six years ago, Evereve got onboard the subscription bandwagon with a mail-based styling service called Trendsend, that replicates the in-store styling experience online.
Trendsend offers the exact same products as the Evereve website. The subscription box sends customers a few outfits that are virtually styled by in-store stylists. Customers start by creating a profile that lists their lifestyle, body concerns, upcoming events, and colors/patterns to avoid, among other considerations. The website first takes customers through various outfit images so they can choose what they do and don’t like to give stylists a better idea of their personal style.
Evereve customers and stylists can pull from 80-100 revered brands at any given time. Part of the reason Evereve is able to charge what they do is that they offer branded inventory that’s exclusive to the company. In fact, 40 percent of the inventory you see on Evereve is completely exclusive –– meaning it can’t be found or purchased anywhere else –– and 20 of those styles are designed by the team at Evereve. The company also owns three different in-house brands, and it is building out its own private label.
Up to this point, Evereve’s marketing strategy has been surprisingly limited. Evereve is a prime example of the trifecta understanding your core audience, speaking their language and then letting them come to you –– with the allure of exclusive branded inventory. The company began to see a sales surge from pent-up demand in March 2021, and the pace of sales hasn’t slowed since then.
The company has plans to scale in urban areas, which requires a solid marketing strategy. Recruiting new customers requires an innovative, agile strategy. And the Tamte’s new focus is on brand building. They’re aware that the company’s rapidly expanding ecommerce, subscription and catalog business will only strengthen using online ads and social media –– especially as they strive to recruit maturing next-gens such as older millennials. So, you can expect to see a lot more of Evereve on every platform. They have a lot to teach us about brand loyalty and pricing integrity, which in combination defy the race to the bottom that so many other retailers are reduced to.