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Designer Spotlight

Desmond & Dempsey

26 May 2016
Photos by Desmond & Dempsey

Molly Dempsey and Joel Desmond are the creators behind our favourite sunshine filled sleepwear collection, bringing relaxed yet beautiful pyjamas to the wider world. Their mission is to make mornings brighter, and with their vibrant hand painted exotic prints, inspired by travels and Sunday adventures, they’re certainly achieving that.

Meeting Molly to go through their latest prints is always a highlight, and more often than not we end up loosing track of time simply because there always seems so much to talk about, not least to share the joys and challenges of running a business, but also to hear about their latest creative projects.  Most recently I quizzed them a bit more about business, working as a couple, and where they go for inspiration.

On Business:

I’m always fascinated by couples who run a business together, and now you’re set to be married so you’ve clearly not killed each other yet, what would you say are the benefits of living and working together?

Haha not yet, maybe after we’re married! The benefits are that we get to celebrate and enjoy lots of amazing experiences together. We are in NY this week with lots of exciting meetings and talking to so many interesting people and getting to do that (and talk about it afterwards) together is pretty great.

And the downsides?

We can’t both be shattered or totally relaxed together. One of us always has to be in work mode, making sure D&D is running smoothly.

When you initially ran the D&D concept passed friends and family what was their reaction?

Oh gosh the reactions are still pretty funny. Both of our parents were like “WHAT, you are doing what, you started what?” I love telling strangers and watching their reaction.

Very often I meet entrepreneurs who fall into two camps, either they love the business side and aren’t so interested in the creative elements, or they’re incredibly creative but find pushing their ‘enterprise’ very challenging.  Which camp would you put yourself in, and how do you manage to do the bits that don’t come so naturally?

Well I think perhaps that’s why Joel and I work so well together. We are both interested in both the creative and business side of things, but naturally fall into certain roles. I probably have more focus on the branding and marketing side of things while Joel is more focused on business development and finances. We are both incredibly focused on the product though and like to do that together.

Do you have a mentor?

We have a lot of people who mentor us without the title of a mentor. From friends, to investors, to people we work with. We have been so lucky to find so many people willing to take a chance on our idea and teach us as much as they know!

I do also have a wonderful women in Dallas who I have a regular skype call with to discuss certain parts of the business and get her advice.

What would be the most valuable piece of advice you would give someone thinking of starting their own business?

I think focusing on the product is sometimes overlooked. There are so many things to do when starting a business that constantly improving your product can be the last thing on the to do list.

If you have a great product, the rest is easy.

What are the morals you run your brand by?

Honesty. Creativity.

On Design, Inspiration and the typical D&D girl

Why PJ’s?

Because we believe in the power of a good morning. A good morning means a great day and who knows what that could lead to? Starting your day in a great set of pjyamas that feel and look good will guarantee a better morning.

You don’t need to persuade me, but for anyone who hasn’t come across you guys, what sets a pair of D&Ds apart from other sleepwear brands?

Where do we start? Firstly, the prints are way more fun then most other companies. They are painted or designed by an artist, so you are sleeping in a masterpiece.
The Cotton we use is heavenly soft and won’t make you sweaty or slimey either.

Where is your go-to place to get away from the stresses and strains of running D&D and refresh the mind?

I love going for a walk in the park. I walk in the morning with a friend in Brockwell park and if I need a break from the computer we are just around the corner from Battersea park.

What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?

We designed our Dolce Far Niente collection in collaboration with an artisan bookbinders in Florence called Alberto Cozzi. They use the traditional techniques of Florentine marbling. It is so amazing to watch!

How would you describe your typical D&D customer?

We have a real mix of customers as we design our pyjamas for our mums and sisters. I think they all believe in quality though and like products that are more interesting then what they can find on the high street.

Who would you love to see wearing a pair of D&D’s? 

Ohhh so many people. There is not one person in particular though – we just want our D&D’s worn by people doing interesting and exciting things.

On being in the present whilst looking to the future:

Running a business is mentally and physically challenging, what would be your three tips to staying sane on a daily basis?

Haha um I haven’t worked out the secret formula yet. I do thinking starting the day going for a walk rather then emailing in bed is important. Joel and I also like to eat breakfast at home and not in front of laptops to catch up.

You’ve been commendably selective about stockists, why did The Keep Boutique appeal?

Two reasons. The first because The Keep is our favorite local boutique. So while we were launching D&D and working on our designs and branding we looked to The Keep as the kind of ‘places we want to fit in’ type of store.

Secondly, Kate is so passionate about her mission and ideas about ethical manufacture that it is wonderful to be a part of it.

Where do you hope D&D will be in 5 years time?

Well I hope we are supplying better mornings and greater Sundays for the whole family and continuing to celebrate artists around the world!

Inside Alberto Cozzi - where the SS16 collection began. Photo credit: Desmond & Dempsey
Inside Alberto Cozzi - where the SS16 collection began. Photo credit: Desmond & Dempsey
Inside Alberto Cozzi - where the SS16 collection began. Photo credit: Desmond & Dempsey
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