Stella & Suzie, based in Toulouse, raises 2.5 million euros to open stores and increase exports

This is her first fundraiser. Maison Stella & Suzie, the Toulouse-based women’s ready-to-wear brand, has just completed a € 2.5 million funding round with a French ready-to-wear group that wishes to remain anonymous. The young bohemian and urban premium brand, launched in 2018, in the heart of Pink City, online only, will use this sum to open its first physical stores.

He wants to reach a new level, to rely on a strong community and his success in implementing physical sales in Stella & Suzie branded boutiques. In fact, the “Digital Native Vertical Brand” has made the winning digital bet that has allowed it to maintain a strong community. In 2021 alone, Maison Stella & Suzie had nearly 1.5 million unique visitors to its e-commerce site. Digital represents almost 95% of its business.

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“We did things right. We created a large digital community and therefore immense data that allows us to know in which city we can open a shop and be profitable on day 1”, emphasizes Maxime Minguez, co-founder of Stella & Suzie House with Margaux Lahana Minguez.

Thus six cities stand out in which Stella & Suzie has strong development potential: Toulouse, Lyon, Paris, Bordeaux, Lille and Aix-en-Provence. The brand has a first store, opened in August 2021, in the city center of Toulouse and which allowed it to test direct sales, validate an operational and logistic mode and achieve profitability. Starting this year, Stella & Suzie wishes to open three new addresses as a priority in Bordeaux, Lyon and Aix en Provence.

“Once these first cities open, we will be able to tackle the cities that are going to be profitable on day 1. This is the case with Montpellier, for example, which could be profitable after six months today. In general, retailers wait three or four years before their shop is profitable. Day 1 is a real luxury we can afford, “he adds.

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Maintain a dominant digital identity

If these three future stores are operational by the end of 2022, Stella & Suzie expects to achieve a 17% share of physical sales during the financial year. Ultimately, the company wants to strike a tight balance in favor of 60% of digital sales and a 40% share for its stores. Its goal is to allow retail to always be profitable thanks to the web and not the opposite to maintain a certain flexibility (number of collections, production, stock, product diversification, etc.)

To increase its notoriety, the young brand can also count on its corner, on the 3rd floor of Printemps Haussmann in Paris and soon in Deauville. These places, which attract a high-end and international clientele, are a real showcase for the Toulouse brand.

“Before creating the brand, we launched for the first time, in December 2017, an online concept store where we sold ready-to-wear from French brands. We started to build volume very quickly. More and more brands were interested in being distributed. with us. Almost a year and a half after the opening of this multi-brand site, we decided to launch our creations in the middle of this concept store. It worked so well that, at the end of the second confinement, we decided to stop selling at detail to devote ourselves exclusively to the creation and become Maison Stella & Suzie “, says Maxime Minguez.

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Convincing internationally

At the same time, the brand wishes to expand its international presence through this capital increase. Today the company’s share of international turnover is 14%, with a website in French and in European currency. Abroad, the brand is exported to customers in French-speaking countries such as Belgium and Switzerland, but also to French expatriates in England, for example. To attract and retain as many foreign customers as possible, Stella & Suzie has started a review of its e-shop to have a multilingual and multi-currency site in the coming weeks.

“For Americans, buying in euros on a site not translated into English is a hindrance, as happens for us French when a site is exclusively in dollars and in English. The United States is the third country that visits our site the most but the 79th in terms of conversion rate, so there is real leverage, “explains the company’s general manager.

With a site translated into multiple languages ​​and the ability for customers to pay in multiple currencies, the ready-to-wear brand aims to achieve a 50% share of international business by 2025.

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Strengthen CSR

In addition to financial and commercial issues, Stella & Suzie also addresses environmental, social and ethical issues in its business. Thus, part of the € 2.5 million should be used to invest in a “general policy” of CSR. It wants to structure itself at all levels: the origin of raw materials, short circuits, the choice of responsible partners and subcontractors, compliance with environmental standards and labor rights, carbon footprint, implementation of an electric bicycle bonus for their employees, etc. .

Today the PMI uses 97% of partners located in Europe to create its collections. The rest is done in countries that are true centers of excellence and competence in textiles, such as Turkey and Tunisia in jeans and India in lace, for example. As for the drawing and design of the models, these are provided by Toulouse. In addition, the brand voluntarily limits its production to avoid overcrowding.

“Our latest collection is made up of 70% eco-responsible materials. Logistically, we are working on a system to eliminate the last mile, which represents 45% of the carbon footprint. Everything we do at various scales it must be part of a global policy.

All the artistic direction is carried out in Toulouse (Credits: DR)

Stella & Suzie dreams of one day building its own production plant in Toulouse to be part of its collections, those of emerging brands and its partners who want something made in France.

€ 7.4 million for 2022

Paradoxically, the women’s prêt-à-porter brand defines itself as a “affordable high-end“.”In terms of quality, we are getting closer or even better than brands like Ba & sh, Sandro or Isabel Marant. But beyond that, we have prices that are barely two or three times those of Zadar“, says the manager of the company. This is explained by its digital positioning which allows it to have lower overhead costs and therefore to reduce margins that will not be sold to the end customer.”We have four shop commissions but we sell as if we had 30“, He adds.

This digital positioning is winning as it allows the young company to claim more than 5 million euros in turnover in 2021. For 2022, it has an expected turnover of 7.4 million, thanks in particular to international expansion and the development of direct sales.

The SME, which currently has 36 employees, has 13 open positions in marketing, communication, retail, CSR, etc. Additionally, each store opening will result in two to three job creation.

From the next school year, Stella & Suzie wants to diversify with a capsule collection for children. If this limited series is successful, the company does not rule out the idea of ​​creating a brand within the brand and launching Stella & Suzie Kids and then opening up to men’s fashion.

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