Why two women left successful careers in finance and consulting to launch a brand that aims to revolutionize female essentials to fit seamlessly into your lifestyle.
There is nothing sexy about ripping off cardboard packaging and pulling on a sticky pair of synthetic tights, only to feel an itch coming. Even less appealing? Finding a snag where your nail met your tights and an unsightly ladder of torn fabric, only to head back out to buy a new pair for the cycle to repeat itself a few days or weeks later. “Hedoines do not have time to run to the store on their lunch break to replace their laddered tights before a meeting,” said Alex Tymann, co-founder and CEO of Hedoine, a UK-based startup that aims to revolutionize female fashion essentials, beginning with the hoisery category.
A glance at the Hedoine homepage evokes more luxury lingerie than self-checkout at Superdrug. The brand elevates the sheer tight to a hero product tucked away (in a silken drawstring pouch, might I add) in every powerful woman’s sartorial arsenal. Supportive, sexy, reliable and utterly a treat to wear, 20-denier tights have never looked or felt better.
According to co-founder and COO Anna Rauch, the product has been a long time coming. From sourcing trips to Italy, several conversations with suppliers, endless product testing and constant refining and tweaking, the duo has meticulously designed every last detail. “See the feet?” Anna points to the 40-denier pad of fabric at the base of the foot – twice as thick as the rest of the tights. “When you take off your shoes at someone’s house, you don’t want to be seen with holes near your toes,” she says of the problem region where holes are likely to form around the feet.
These tights are also designed with the end of the day in mind. The smooth waistband doesn’t have thick seams of stitching that leave unsightly pressure marks on the skin after being worn. After hearing that some of her friends wore underwear over their tights to minimise the appearance of sagging, the pair engineered the tights to have a supportive and flattering fit. “From our conversations with people, we built a wishlist of characteristics that our tights had to have,” Alex said.
I start to think about how much more pleasant my post-gym weekday mornings would be if I could slide on a smooth pair of nice tights rather than yanking stretched nylon over my sweaty legs and frowning at the “Michelin man” effect of a too-narrow waistband.
Even the best tights aren’t forever, the founders remind me, which is why Hedoine launched a flexible subscription for enthusiasts to receive a 20% discount on tights at a frequency and quantity of their choosing. Hedoine’s range of styles, denier and waistband heights makes the idea of a recurring subscription easy, especially for women for whom tights are a wardrobe staple. After all, a Hedoine doesn’t have time to repeatedly shop for tights. Just a few months post-launch, the brand’s subscription program now accounts for 10-15% of sales according to the founders.
It’s not immediately clear what distinguishes Hedoine from a similar startup, Heist (which also produces seamless tights). When I floated the subject of the related category of shapewear, the blonde duo shook their heads in unison: this is not part of Hedoine’s strategy. “We don’t care if she’s thin or not, it’s about her attitude, her humour and her energy”. Indeed, the brand embodies the essence of female empowerment, focusing on creating a world around a high-performance feminine lifestyle instead of pushing a particular body shape and aesthetic. Heist might boast similarly snag-free tights with a recently launched eco-friendly product line, but there’s something desirable and uncompromising about a brand built around a busy woman’s life and devoted to her success.
If anything, it’s the founders’ robust background and considerable experience in both business and the startup world that sets them apart. Alex spent seven years at PwC before working at an incubator in Germany advising startups on funding and investment, and Anna worked in banking before joining a fintech firm. Their first landing page, in the words of their web designer, looked like a Powerpoint deck straight out of their corporate days. “We were thrilled and thought it looked so good!” they laughed.
Indeed, the process of realising a creative vision for Hedoine – including coming up with a brand name – was the analytical duo’s “first encounter with our right brain”. At a dinner party at a friend’s house, “The Handbook of Hedonism” by Michael Flocker serendipitously fell from a bookshelf and there began the founders’ process of conceptualising a brand identity. Inspired by the messages of “the true meaning of hedonism” in the book, according to Anna, the brand came to life alongside the author’s quotes which featured on early versions of the homepage.
Alex and Anna wrote to Michael Flocker thanking him for publishing a manifesto that perfectly aligned with their brand, and their subsequent correspondence with him led them to meet when Flocker came to London. “He spent a week with us, helping us with copyright, teaching us, and getting to know the brand his work had shaped the vision of”, Anna said of Flocker’s influence on Hedoine.
Perhaps what is most inspiring about Alex and Anna is their flexible, can-do startup attitude paired with the rigor and intensity characteristic of an experienced business background. They’ve managed a successful foray into business, boasting high six-figure revenue within two years and profitability within the next six months, all driven by a full-time team of three that is currently expanding. With a board of impressive advisors (which the founders admit is missing a key female presence), three rounds of angel investment funding and an impending seed round close (“it would be the perfect Christmas present!”), Hedoine has been around for two years but is just getting started. Next up: subtly printed tights and an expanded product line to suit every occasion in the modern woman’s colorful life.
And the best part of unboxing these tights? The pair of cheeky fishnet socks that Alex and Anna included, perfect for days when the hedonistic heroine wants her discreet tights to stand out.