I'm not a mom yet, but as the proud aunt of a beautiful 16 month old and an unofficial aunt to several of my friend's kids, I know a few things about their wardrobe needs. The golden nuggest of children's wardrobe knowledge I possess include: they go through clothes faster than you can ever imagine - sometimes before they've even worn something you have spent way too much money on; though the clothes are small, some of the pricetags on these outfits are anything but tiny; and finally, it's incredibly fun to pick out adorable outfits for them - it's just so hard to resist.
That's why the moment I discovered My Kids Threads, an online kids consignment shop featuring designer clothes at up to 80% off (as well as an easy-button option to sell your own kid's new or gently used items) I thought, "THIS is going to be big!" I also thought, "THIS must have been invented by a mom." I was right, and in today's Small Biz Spotlight feature interview you're gong to meet that founding mom, Lisa Batra, and here her story...
Take us through the process in your head and your life that led you from “Man, cute kids clothes are expensive but what are you going to do?” to “Oh I know, I’ll create an online platform where moms can buy and consign high quality, high fashion kids apparel?”
I am a mom of two and I understand first-hand how quickly children grow. In my experience and in chatting with other moms, we all faced a similar problem of finding a way to effortlessly shop for high quality kids clothing without breaking the bank. I had tried consignment shops, online auctions and more, yet it was too time consuming. I just knew there had to be an easier way than waiting in long lines, bidding on auctions, and dragging the kids back and forth to brick and mortar consignment shops.
I spent countless hours working on a business plan for this online service focusing on how to take the hassle out of buying and selling high-quality children’s clothing while saving moms time and money. How could we recycle and reuse excellent quality children’s clothing that had been worn once or twice and outgrown? Once I had the plan done, it was time to take action and implement.
I wanted to take the brick and mortar consignment shop and bring it online, focus specifically on higher end brands and create an online destination for moms to buy and sell, easily and effortlessly. My Kid’s Threads does not purchase items from consignors for pennies on the dollar, rather, we offer the consignor a generous payout, 50% of the selling price, when their items are sold. There is also the option to donate consignments earnings directly to a charity. Our consignors love this model.
Was the decision to leave corporate America, “jump” and work with My Kids Threads full time a scary one? What made you decide it was time to put all your time and energy into it?
I had been in the eCommerce space for Fortune 500 retailers for the past 15 years and I always knew I wanted to run my own company. Given my expertise in running large scale eCommerce businesses (Fashion Bug, Lowe’s, Bath & Body Works, and QVC) coupled with the need for a solution for busy moms, I decided now was the time to do it. I left my corporate position soon after my second child was born because I knew the time was right to devote my efforts into launching MyKidsThreads.com and making it a household name.
What was the most challenging part about launching My Kids Threads?
The most challenging aspect in launching My Kid’s Threads was customizing the website for growth and expansion. Planning for growth and the providing the best user experience was on the top of my list when launching the site. The website is so robust and was built to be able to scale to support user traffic and thousands of SKUs of merchandise for the future in ancillary categories – maternity, shoes, etc.
When you began, did you work out of a warehouse or your home? How did you keep up with the sales, deliveries and all the other plates you were spinning?
When I began I worked out of my home. Luckily, I had about 1500 sq ft of open space to work with and set up an office, photo studio and bars to hang up clothing.
I outsourced help for the areas of business that were not my expertise - the back-end website coding and customization. I also needed help to keep up with the volume and I hired a specialist to help process and sort the clothing from the mailerbags and write up the product descriptions.
How do you think your past work experience has helped you grow your own business?
My past work experience with multi-channel retailers has been invaluable. It was so exciting to be a part of the eCommerce side of the house that was growing fast and furious and contributing EBITDA to the bottom line. My work experience coupled with getting a MBA in New Ventures & Entrepreneurship has given me the foundation for my own venture.
What inspired you to add a charitable component to your offerings (we’ll explain this to readers)?
I believe it is so important to give back to the community. My Kid’s Threads is partners with several non-profit organizations, a majority of them directly help less fortunate children and families. We support Cradles to Crayons, The Baby Bureau, The Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard, A Love for Life and Montessori Schools. All consignors have the ability to donate the proceeds of their consignment earnings towards a charity.
Additionally, all clothing that is not accepted and not sold is donated through one of these non-profits directly to children and families in need.
How do you manage the ever elusive “work-family-marriage-self” cycle? What is that experience like?
As a mompreneur, I have been able to benefit by capitalizing on my schedule. I wake up earlier than my kids to respond to emails, orders and customer inquiries. Getting ready with the kids and getting them to school is something I enjoy doing, as well as picking them up and hearing about their day. These are things I was never able to do when I worked in corporate roles. I have a home office so when I am working I know the kids are taken care of by the sitter but I still feel "present". Since I am not a morning person and am more energized in the evenings,
I work until well past midnight every night. It is vital that mompreneurs find the right schedule to have a happy and healthy home and work life.
What’s the most rewarding part about growing the My Kids Threads brand?
The most rewarding part about growing the My Kid’s Threads brand is knowing that the potential is limitless. There will always be a need to clothe children and now there is a way to do so effortlessly. I also love working for myself.
What are a couple of major “dreams” you have for your business? Goals that would be thrilling to achieve…
My goal is for Mykidsthreads.com to become a household name. I would to be able to expand the business quickly and offer our customers tens of thousands of items for sale.