4. July 2012–
The online children's fashion market is booming. Companies such as tausendkind have done very well lately, leading to the entrance of new ones. Design-oriented, eco-friendly, and sustainable childrenswear is currently the focus of attention, with annual growth rates beyond 30%. Now a new German team has joined the market, launching kindsstoff, a company aimed to cater not only to the relevant market trends but also common frustrations reported by parents. We talked to the founders to get more insights into their innovative business model.
“Kindsstoff solves the issue that kids grow and clothes don’t”
Robert Rebholz, one of the three co-founders, explains that this is one of parents’ major pain points when it comes to dressing their children. To address the problem, kindsstoff isn’t just selling kids’ clothing over the web; its unique online platform also enables parents to send back their children's outgrown clothes that they have purchased from kindsstoff online. In return, they get a discount on their next purchase. Returned clothing is then donated, recycled, or resold at a discount price.
The three founders thus have built a subscription-like model that doesn’t create the impression of a long-term commitment, as opposed to monthly or weekly payments. To add to the system, kindsstoff partners up with with global kids’ charity SOS Childrens’ Villages, who will receive at least every third item that was returned by kindsstoff customers.
Children's fashion made in Germany
As part of their business model, kindsstoff plan to produce and sell children’s clothing that is not only design-oriented but also eco-friendly and made in Germany. Brands, wholesellers and retailers are taken out of the equation. “It’s comparable to the Kleiner Perkins-backed company Everlane, which aims to provide customers with designer products for non-designer prices on a monthly basis,” says Rebholz. "E-commerce is especially well-suited for kidswear due to short purchasing cycles and a reduced risk of misfit, especially at younger ages,” he adds.
The team: Three men and a baby
The three founders, formerly working together as management consultants, decided to enter the children's fashion market when one of them became a father. Co-founder Alexander Reichhuber noticed that his son outgrew his clothing every 3-6 months and together with Sebastian Schmöger, he came up with the original idea for kindsstoff. They quickly realised that there was nothing comparable on the market and teamed up with their colleague Robert Rebholz to launch Kindsstoff in Germany as well as in the US.
Alexander Reichhuber is taking care of the financials, while setting up kindsstoff’s production network and making it as efficient and sustainable as possible. He is convinced that flexible local production is key to a quick and efficient adjustment to occurring fashion trends. The team describes him as a "numbers guy" who regularly returns to his former university to lecture on topics such as strategy and e-commerce.
Sebastian Schmöger is responsible for kindsstoff’s marketing and design. His goal is to make fashionable and design-oriented kid’s clothing affordable and accessible for every family. He was the one who drove the collaboration with SOS Children’s Villages, and currently has a teaching assignment at WFI on sustainable business models.
Last on the team is Robert Rebholz, the WHU graduate who is taking kindsstoff to the US. The team believes that kindsstoff’s presence in Los Angeles enables them to not only address the lucrative US market but also build further partnerships with celebrities as well as artists. “Launching in the USA and Germany means that we can target more customers while reducing our costs per market,” Rebholz says. He thinks that L.A. has quite some similarities to Berlin in regards to the city’s aspirations to challenge Silicon Valley.
kindsstoff "family and friends" soft launched a week ago and is currently expanding to a broader audience. “It’s great to finally be live and have shipped out the first orders,” Rebholz says.
We’re looking forward to the US launch and are curious about this venture’s outcome.