MiniWardrobe.com is a one-stop online shop for designer kids’ fashion to suit all tastes and budgets. It features luxury designer clothes and hard-to-find European and international brands for 0-12 year olds, as well as providing a platform for relatively unknown British designers to showcase their brands and quality handmade garments. inspiresme.co.uk finds out more about what it takes to start a business in online retail from the website’s creator and director, mum-of-three Caroline Kendal.
For as long as she can remember Caroline Kendal knew she wanted to work in fashion. Her
Caroline Kendal's tips for entrepreneurs
- Multiply however hard you think it will be to run a business by three.
- Be prepared to work all day every day. Even when you are out with your family on weekends, your business will be on your mind at all times.
- If you have kids, you will need to think of your business as another child and it will control your life at times. But don't worry, if you believe in your business and love what you are doing, you won't resent this.
- Don't be afraid to give up equity in your business. It will give you comfort that your business is worth believing in.
- Never stop believing in yourself and your business. Hard work and unwavering commitment always pays off in the end. Challenges may be demoralising but overcoming them makes every one of your successes so much sweeter.
grandmother had a menswear shop on South Molton Street in Mayfair, where she spent many Saturdays.
“I remember being given a £1 to buy fried eggs and chips in the café across the road! I loved being allowed to ring things through the till and rifle through the stock downstairs. My grandmother also had some celebrity customers, who I was far too young to appreciate at the time"
It gave her a love for retail, but Kendal pursued a professional career in law at the insistence of her family. “It is very typical of entrepreneurs families to encourage their children into secure careers. Therefore, as far as my family was concerned, I had a choice of law, medicine or accountancy, and law seemed the most appealing option.
“I worked in the legal profession for the shortest time possible because I intensely disliked it. The final straw came for me when I shared an office with a solicitor who told me she hated her job so much that she wished she would be run over on her way to work so that she could be in hospital on sick pay. I was terrified of getting to that point and decided I had to escape from the profession sooner rather than later.
“The idea for MiniWardrobe.com resulted from a genuine love of internet retail. I had noticed an increasing number of womenswear websites but childrenswear was far behind. And as a mum of three I know from experience that shopping for kidswear on the high street is not much fun when you have little ones in tow.
“I put together a business plan and raised finance from private investors. Apart from the fact that I needed to raise capital to develop the website, it was important to me that experienced business people believed in MiniWardrobe before the launch. Also, internet retail is challenging, especially in the current financial climate and I wanted to have a team of people around me who would bring different ideas to the table.
“Giving up shares was the easiest decision I made. My investors are hugely inspirational and MiniWardrobe would not be where it is today without them.”
But Caroline Kendal couldn’t do it without help. “My family and my husband's family are all in the fashion industryand have helped enormously. My children model for me frequently and don't charge, which is very generous of them! My mum helps me with childcare and without her support, I couldn't work as hard as I do. And my poor husband has put up with stock samples overwhelming our home and the fact that most days I don't stop working until 1am.”
Caroline has had to deal with a competitive industry: “Having great stock at competitive prices helps, but so too does striking exclusive deals with international brands. I’m always networking, and forging new contacts in the hope that I can get exclusive rights to stock certain brands in the UK."
She continues: “We face challenges all the time, whether it's technical issues with the website or too few customers. The financial climate has made internet retail a challenge full stop, but we launched in a recession so we were under no false illusions regarding how hard it might be."
We launched in a recession so we were under no false illusions regarding how hard it might be...
Kendal also had to find innovative ways to set her business apart. “We are trialling £5 voucher giveaways for anyone who signs up to our newsletter, free UK delivery. and returns and we donate 1% of all transactions to children’s charities, at no extra cost to the customer. We’ve also built a games section with our Mini Dresser tool, so children can design their own outfits on the screen.
“But having great stock is the most important factor. Unique designs that aren’t available on the high street really do drive sales, so I was adamant that putting lesser-known, high quality childrenswear brands would work. Consequently we’re working with some great and talented designers.”
So what’s on the horizon for MiniWardrobe.com? “We are looking to expand our collections quickly and widen our appeal to foreign markets. The beauty of the internet is that MiniWardrobe's doors are open to internet shoppers worldwide.”