Entrepreneurs

Prince George's robe gives 2 entrepreneurs a royal break

For nearly six years, entrepreneurs Daniel Price and Jonny Sitton have been building a business in the United Kingdom that they hoped would garner enough attention to expand to the United States.

Over the weekend, they got a royal break.

Just before President and Mrs. Obama joined Prince William, Princess Kate and Prince Harry for a private dinner at Kensington Palace, nearly 3-year-old Prince George stayed up past his bedtime to say hello.

Lucky for the co-founders of My 1st Years, a personalized baby clothing and accessories brand, Prince George was wearing the $39 robe the pair sent the royals as an older brother gift when his baby sister Charlotte was born.

"I was at dinner and saw 165 messages come through nearly at once, and our team just couldn't believe it," Price told CNBC. "It was one of those moments, where you just couldn't write a better script."


President Barack Obama, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Prince George at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England
Pete Souza | The White House | Getty Images
President Barack Obama, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Prince George at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England

Price and his partner started the business right out of school "on a shoestring budget" back in 2010, Price said. Part of the marketing strategy has been to send personalized baby gifts to famous (mainly British) celebrities, hoping to grab the attention of a potentially powerful new client.

Price sent personalized shoes to Victoria and David Beckham when their daughter Harper was born, he said. There was the hamper gifted to Elton John for his son personalized with the words, "Zachary how wonderful life is while you're in the world." Price personally delivered a blanket to 10 Downing Street when David Cameron's son was born that read "a product of the perfect coalition," a nod to the coalition government of the time.

"When you haven't got millions to spend on marketing, you need a bit of a break like this," said a jubilant Price.

The "Kate Middleton effect" has been well-documented, and remains a strong, ongoing trend. It seems the magic has transferred to the young prince, as he's dressed by his fashionable mother.

"Kate Middleton's impact on fashion and brands cannot be understated," said Liz Dunn, founder of retail consultancy Talmage Advisors. "Everything she wears sells out immediately. She also buys off the rack, which makes her choices accessible. There is also some magic to the idea that the girl next door can become royalty and the average person can dress like she does, or in this case, like her son does."

Jonny Sitton (left) and Daniel Price of My 1st years
Source: My 1st years
Jonny Sitton (left) and Daniel Price of My 1st years

My 1st Years website now proudly calls the robe "Prince's Personalised Gingham Robe."

"Also, the picture of him with President Obama was beyond adorable," Dunn added.

Price said his site did crash initially under much heavier than normal traffic after The Daily Mail revealed My 1st Years as the brand behind the royal's robe. The robe sold out in seven minutes, but Price and Sitton have ordered more of their robes, which are manufactured in Turkey and personalized in the U.K.

The company promises those that preorder now will get them within two to three weeks' time. The brand sells mainly through its online site, but also in Selfridges in London and the duo is currently in discussions with Nordstrom.

"We have always believed we had a product Americans would love, but we live in the UK so that's where we began. We didn't want to run before we could walk, but this may be the right time," Price said.

In fact, before this weekend, only 3 percent of their sales were going to America, but since Saturday 50 percent of sales are America-bound, he said.

Although My 1st Years wouldn't disclose their annual sales figures, they said that since 2010, their average annual sales growth rate has been 150 percent, and it is running at 60 percent growth rate so far in 2016.