The company that makes those fancy slipper-style flats beloved by Meghan Markle that you keep seeing on your Instagram feed—Birdies—just raised $8 million in venture funding. This is a perfect encapsulation of how marketing works now.
They’ve got a 30,000-person waitlist and a longtime fan in the form of Meghan Markle, Fast Company reported. They’re in my Instagram feed so often I have seriously considered ordering a pair, before remembering that I have a perfectly good, near indestructible pair of L.L. Bean slippers for half the price and also I do not need to piss away $120.
Their vibe is distinctly, determinedly opulent—all satin and velvet—and judging from the TechCrunch coverage, their origin was basically as the modern version of those sack-back gowns that originally emerged as informal around-the-house attire for rich ladies of the ancien régime, an upscale Silicon Valley ecommerce spin on the fairly common act of removing one’s shoes at the doorway:
[Co-founder Bianca Gates] also made powerful friends, including Priti Youssef Choksi, a Facebook colleague who was striking corporate and business development deals and whom Gates befriended over a series of events at the home of Sandberg, who quietly hosted employees she identified as eager to do more with their careers. “You didn’t photograph yourself there or talk about [the dinners], but it helped Priti and I form a deeper friendship,” recalls Gates.
The friendship — and Sandberg’s support — would eventually help get Birdies off the ground.
So did Gates’s obsession with finding post-work, pre-slipper-type shoes, which she says dates back a decade. “I just found that more and more, I was being asked to take off my shoes in friends’ homes and I was asking people to do the same. I thought that stylish shoes for indoors made a lot of sense,” but she wasn’t sure if there was a void in the market, or if she just imagined one.
One of their earliest star customers was Meghan Markle—when she was still but a humble member of the USA Network family and lifestyle blogger (RIP the Tig). Only, she kept posting pictures of herself wearing them outdoors: “It was this amazing, frustrating moment for the brand, because they were made for entertaining in the home,” said cofounder Bianca Gates.
So they made the sole thicker and now here we are, being chased around the Internet by luxury house slippers.