Businesswoman Lucy Kirkwood discusses changing retail trends and the rise of second-hand fashion.
What does your business do?
Little Outfitters is an online marketplace that buys and sells designer kids clothing and accessories. We cover clothing for children ages zero to 10 years old and there are over 2000 brands that customers can buy and sell. The business is currently all online, but we do plan on doing some pop up stores. There's just two of us working on the business; myself and our part time marketing and social media manager.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I would consider myself a conscious consumer and my interest in fashion and sustainability has grown as my awareness has alongside it. I noticed friends talking about the rate at which their babies were growing and how many of their items needed to be discarded just as quickly. It didn't take long for me to be convinced there was a gap in the market for the resale of designer children's goods. The growth in resale marketplaces globally is huge, and it's pretty exciting to be riding this wave that aligns with my own personal values.
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Changing retail trends made up quite of a lot of the mindset of consumers today and where the world is heading. People are becoming increasingly aware of designers and brands producing huge amounts of cheap clothes and forming more sustainable habits such as buying second hand bargains. We ultimately want to reduce the amount of fashion ending up in landfill.
Is this your first gig running a business?
I have been running my own graphic design studio for about four years now and so I'm trying to juggle that too, but it may be something I need to phase out as I need to focus on this.
How different is it running a e-commerce business compared to graphic design?
With graphic design, I have a lot of control over my own designs and what I can achieve in a day or week for clients. I'm now learning to sort of being on the other side, where I am essentially the client, more reliant on other people.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced running Little Outfitters?
We're a custom built website, and in this day and age, with technology, people expect it to be at a perfect level when you launch. Little Outfitters is something we wanted to get to market as soon as we could and now we're still building in features that people think should already be there. The most challenging part is trying to keep up with the demands of users but also make sure our product is continuously at a stable level of growth, and scalable.
What are your long term plans for the business?
The goal is to take the business, firstly to Australia in the New Year, and then see what other markets it could break into beyond that. We also want to launch a 'valet' service shortly which will involve a service of picking up, listing and selling items on behalf of parents who are typically time poor. We're thinking that will benefit them really well, and because we're quite a curated website we are going to partner with a charity or two whereby we can donate items that we can't accept but still have lift left in them.
Is a physical bricks and mortar of your own in the pipeline?
We do get asked quite often if we will be doing that, but I think we'll do some pop ups first where it is a one-time only occasion and see how that goes. A physical store could be in the works, we no to sort our storage space so we could have retail at the front. It would need to be located in a central location for Mums who do value fashion and enjoy shopping for their children, so central Auckland is where we would look. A physical store is not top of my priority list as we just launched two months ago and for now we trying to grow out online presence. Ideally, we'd like to be live in Australia in the next five months.
How much opportunity is there in the reuse market?
Second hand is growing a lot faster than the retail market, and I think it is an exciting space to be in. I think we'll start to see more second hand retailers start to pop up in the next couple of years. New Zealand is coming into what the United States already adopted a few years earlier, its really taken off in the States but has taken a bit of time to trickle down to here. The conscious consumer is a trend growing globally. In the fashion world, sustainability is definitely becoming pivotal to a lot of businesses now as people demand to know where their clothes come from, who it is being made by and if they have received a good wage in exchange.
What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
It is extremely rewarding being in business but be aware of the time and effort that you need to put into it.