132 pieces, the impressive number of clothes your baby outgrows within its 1st year
After more than 15 years in the banking industry, Belén Bolliger, a Swiss entrepreneur, launched a high-quality & organic baby clothes rental service for conscious parents together with Anna Mucha.
Belén is dark-haired, smiling and welcoming. She is pregnant and will deliver soon. Busy life as an entrepreneur mom-to-be, but she still has time for an interview. Lucky me !
After a few introduction words, we discuss as if we were old friends. Belén explains that she is passionate about innovative concepts applied to sustainability and she has lots of energy. I guarantee I feel the good vibes via Zoom. Surfing on the Internet she discovered Anna’s project of baby clothes rental service. We were in early January2020: their entrepreneurial venture was off to a flying start.
Belén’s co-founder, Anna, gave birth in summer 2019 and was shocked by the speed at which her daughter was outgrowing her clothes within weeks. The kilos of apparel worn a few time, then left in a box, were saddening her. Considering all the time and effort it takes to resell clothes individually, namely taking pictures, posting online, answering buyers’ requests or wait for a hustle at the next overloaded kids secondhand-market seemed too complicated.
After few calculations, Anna realised that in the first year of life, her daughter would have accumulated already 132 pieces in her baby wardrobe (approx 22 pieces per size x 6 sizes). Considering the fact, that it takes up to 2,700 liters to manufacture a single t-shirt and a lot of hard work, the chronically underusage of baby clothes are at a total imbalance with the intense production. I let you do the maths. Anna was eager to change the status quo and started a business concept of baby clothes rental service, called OÏOÏOÏ baby.
“We want to make a sustainable lifestyle easy and accessible for all conscious parents, especially for the ones juggling work and family at the same time.”
Finding the right model
OÏOÏOÏ baby’s value proposition is simple: renting gender-neutral clothes made of organic and high-quality fabrics for the first year of the babys’ life (i.e. 0–12 months, EUR size 44–80).
Instead of piling up pink or blue fast-fashion & low quality clothes, you rent a bundle of 5 to 15 pieces in soft shades. You can even choose your favorite accent color to be added to the bundle or let the team surprise you with their selection. The clothes are delivered at your doorstep within a few days and you can flexibly swap whenever needed. The bundles cover from 25% to 75% of your baby’s needs, letting space for gifts or pieces from your own selection (ideally, second-hand ;)). The qualitative all-year “capsule collection” of clean, functional basics can mix & match with any other piece. The OÏOÏOÏ baby team guarantees the clothes against tears & wears for a worry-free usage.
“Our automated sharing model helps expanding the clothes lifespan up to 4 times”
Renting baby clothes, given the emotional aspect and the pleasure associated with it, was a big bet. Before launching the service, Belén and Anna interviewed more than 100 parents with detailed questionnaires. They found out their target clients are busy, educated and consciously living, especially from 2 types:
1) urban living parents (to be), including many expats, who have less connections and cannot share clothes with friends and families in the same geographical area;
2) friends & families of young parents looking for meaningful / alternative gifts. To this end, the team developed a gift voucher that can be redeemed online and is valid for 1 year.
In terms of pricing, the team decided to go for an abo model. The smallest bundle, called “Mini”, will cost you CHF 44 (approx 40 EUR) a month. At a proven average rental period of 52 days per size you save 60% versus if you had bought the clothes at its retail price.
“We want renting to become easier than buying for our clients. This is why we offer an easy to handle flat-fee subscription pricing model with no hidden costs for delivery or returns. Wear & tear is insured and the flexible abo can be stopped every month.”
Belén & Anna work with 10 small and sustainable brands that care about the production of their clothes. You will not find big names here, on purpose. The deal is to give visibility to players they share common values with rather than betting on well-known brands that can be found elsewhere. All garments are in natural fabrics, mostly GOTS certified organic cotton, and some accessories are in linen or wool. OÏOÏOÏ baby favours European productions, currently representing brands from Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany, amongst others. They also collaborate with midwives to select the right pieces for each collection: well fitted, comfortable, with buttons rightly positioned, and of course with breathable and non-itching fabrics, especially for newborns. Want to see by yourself? Have a look at their newborn guide. I wish I had one like this when I was pregnant of Marcel!
Belén explains that a trending topic in the clothing industry is “radical transparency”, as exemplified in the US by Everlane, a role model for the two entrepreneurs when it comes to ethical fashion: way beyond garments composition, transparency is made on prices breakdown, plants name or sustainability scoring. Consumers want to know it all these days. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belén & Anna did not have time to go deeper in this respect and could not visit their providers’ plants either. But it is clearly one of their objective in the longer term, in order to differentiate from some market players’ greenwashing attempts (i.e. “organic” product lines hiding terrible working conditions or far-away origin).
“ It’s time for real actions, consumers do not accept greenwashing from big brands anymore”
From February to May 2020, OÏOÏOÏ baby has been selected as part of the Circular Economy in Transition incubator together with 25 Swiss-based start-ups, with the idea to accelerate their growth. Today, OÏOÏOÏ baby is based in Zurich. Anna & Belén’s ambition is to expand within Switzerland, including focusing on the French-speaking part, and then in Europe of course. France would be an interesting market for instance.
While Anna is specialized in sourcing & product management, Belén deals with communication & business development. “OÏOÏOÏ baby is clearly booststrapped” says Belén, “we do everything at the moment and count on a brilliant team addition of four highly professional volunteers who are convinced of our business model and want to make a difference. 2021 however, will be the year of our scale-up”. To fund their growth, the duo is looking for investors clearly aligned with their values. Any takers. Breaker.