It’s interesting to watch how a company changes (for better or worse) when ownership changes. When Sapna Palep and Guido Campello, a husband and wife team, bought Journelle, a luxury e-commerce destination for women’s intimates in the summer of 2019, there was a lot of opportunity for betterment.
“We bought the company when it was in distress and had changed ownership a few times,” states Palep. “My husband and business partner, Guido Campello, literally grew up in the lingerie business as his parents started blockbuster intimates brand Cosabella right before he was born nearly 40 years ago. For Guido, it was a very natural extension to an industry that he had worked in since he was a kid. For me as a board-certified dermatologist with my own practice in New York City, I had visited Journelle in the past when it was under different ownership, and I loved so many things about the brand—like the opportunity to discover independent designers and the high level of customer service.”
While Journelle had room for improvement, Palep and Campello knew the company had good bones and a loyal customer base already established and that together they could make it extraordinary.
Sapna Palep (l) and Guido Campello (r)
“We wanted to be the ones to get it there,” Campello tells me. “After an initial settling-in and learning phase, we began to get to work building our new vision. We had the connections and the passion for building it up to where we wanted it to be. We started signing on emerging new designers and expanded the Journelle Collection to now include some of our most popular items like men’s inspired pajamas sets and silks. We changed manufacturing to Europe so that it’s made closer to the source of all the Italian laces we use. We offer more sizing inclusivity than before and developed the iconic 3-piece set, which includes a matching bra, panty, and suspender (we use the British word instead of calling it a garter belt).”
Not long after implementing their plan for the company, the pandemic hit. “Now, we are solving new problems on the go, while still trying to stick to our original mission,” continues Campello. “We launched a Style From Home and Virtual Fitting service to provide our customers with the same level of expert customer service that they would get at the store from the comfort and safety of their own home. We navigated the last year successfully, and are now focusing on growing our DTC business, and expanding into wholesale. We were the first to sell the Journelle collection to retailers. Within 18 months, the Journelle collection is now carried by Net a Porter, Free People, Bloomingdales, ShopBop, and Revolve. Since last year, Journelle has grown 30%.”
“Journelle has changed leadership so many times that we felt it had lost some of its original charm that we fell in love with,” adds Palep. “Our first task was to peel back those changes and bring back classic Journelle, which is what you can see through our branding and marketing efforts now. Within 18 months, we have positioned Journelle as a contemporary brand and we dropped the age of the shopper by more than 10 years. It is now a 20-year old sexy millennial brand stretching to Gen Z.”
With almost two years at the helm, I ask the pair how they would describe the brand now. “Journelle is a place for women to explore the world of lingerie,” responds Campello. “We want to be the place you finaly find the perfect fit that may have eluded you in the past. Finding the right bra isn’t about size, it’s about ﬁt. It isn’t about squeezing yourself into a size or shape that ‘someone’ told you was ‘sexy’, it’s about finding what works for your body—your size, your shape, your vibe, and your style. Sizing can vary by brand and style. Not all bras are created equal which is awesome because all women are fabulously different.”
The pair have plans to further expand the Journelle brand this year to cater to more body types including petite and maternity.
“For me, the sky is the limit with Journelle. We want to reach as many markets as we can,” explains Palep. “I want women in India, where I am originally from, to be wearing Journelle. It’s important for us to continue innovating so that we utilize the technologies at our disposal to create an omnichannel experience for the Journelle customer. Diversity is huge for us. In our upcoming collections, you will see more skin tones than we have ever carried before. We are also creating specialized genderless lingerie so that the LGBTQ+ customers we have can find pieces they love that fit their bodies perfectly! Basically, Journelle wants to help you fall in love with lingerie, no matter who or where you are.”
I am a serial entrepreneur or a serial masochist—depending on how you want to look at it. I typically bite off more than I can chew and that is the way I like it. My life