These Singapore mumpreneurs began an online kids’ fashion portal!
Online kids’ fashion portal 'Rabbit in the Hole' is actually the brainchild of these 3 Singapore mumpreneurs!
It’s always nice and inspiring to hear about enterprising Singapore mums, and so it was, when we got to know that online kids’ fashion portal ‘‘ is actually the brainchild of three Singapore mums, or rather ‘mumpreneurs’! in the Hole
Let’s read a bit about the founders, Melva, Joyce and Sandra, and their motivation behind starting a kids fashion portal!
About these Singapore mumpreneurs
Apparently, Melva and Joyce are cousins, and they got to know Sandra from one of Melva’s mutual friends.
Each person in this three member team brings her own expertise and creativity into the business. Melva comes from a corporate business background and brings lots of great business planning and strategy into the team.
Sandra, an ex-flight attendant with Singapore Airlines and now a financial provider, is someone who really cares for her customers. She ensures that whatever they do, they meet their customers’ needs.
Joyce meanwhile, is an experienced communications professional. And that naturally makes her the person in charge of creatives, marketing and communications.
While Joyce is a mum-to-be, both Melva and Sandra each have two kids of their own. And needless to say, they understand what fellow parents are looking for: quality and comfort in clothing their children.
We got curious about the challenges and struggles mumpreneurs face, and so decided to bombard these three with some questions:
What was the motivation behind starting an online shopping portal?
Melva, Joyce and Sandra (MJS): “People would often ask us where we got our kids’ clothes from. When we told them that they were from abroad, they would often get disappointed…
So, part of our motivation stems from being able to bring in these clothes that would otherwise be hard for people to buy from Singapore. We hope to create a more dynamic kids fashion environment right here in Singapore.”
Can you tell us about some of the challenges faced in starting this business?
MJS: “It took us quite a long time to identify the right brands that shared the same philosophy as us. Then, it also took a bit of convincing for us to gain the agreement of the brand owners for us to bring their products into Singapore seeing that we are a small start-up.
We were firm on our position that we didn’t want to just create an online shop that provided mass-produced clothing but one that provided carefully-curated clothing that emphasised on both quality and design.
Eventually, we ended up building quite a good and strong relationship with our brands and we’re really happy with the fact that none of the brands we’ve selected do mass production.
But our challenges didn’t just end there – even after we had selected our brands, we didn’t have the digital skills to set up the online portal… we are not really the most tech-savvy people around.
So we had to pick up new skills and learn together, egging each other on along the way. It was pretty tough and we put in many hours in learning and building this business from scratch, but it’s been a great journey so far and we’ve learnt so much together.”
How has the response been so far?
MJS: “We just launched our online store in mid-June so it’s still really early days, but we’re keeping an eye out for customers’ feedback and constantly looking for ways to improve the business. So far, we’ve received really positive feedback, which is a great encouragement.
It is also most rewarding when we have satisfied customers who appreciate the clothes we provide and receive pictures of their children, nieces or nephews in our clothes.
Interestingly, we have received an order from Australia which we are happy about, and we did the delivery more than 2500 miles away.”
There are so many online players now, how do you manage to stay afloat or keep ahead of the competition?
MJS: “To be honest, we are still learning as we go. But we believe that one key starting point is the need to start educating consumers in Singapore about the importance of quality when looking for clothing for kids… and getting them to understand that quality doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.
This is our value proposition and we believe that it is something that is currently lacking in Singapore’s kids fashion environment. So we hope to work towards bridging this gap and making fashionable, high-quality clothing more accessible via RabbitintheHole.com.”
What’s your sales pitch – why should customers buy your brand, and what sets it apart?
MJS: “We’re an online kids’ fashion portal that provides kids clothing created by designers around the world that care. We provide a distinctive mix of imaginative flower-girl dresses, country-chic pieces as well as ultra-comfortable everyday wear suitable for babies to pre-teens.
We officially launched our online store in June this year, but we’ve started planning this since last year, having travelled around Europe to source for brands and meeting with owners of our selected brands: LINN from Spain, MarMar from Copenhagen and NellyStella (whose owner travelled to Singapore to meet with us).
We wanted to touch and feel the material of every piece of clothing for ourselves and understand the legacy behind the creation of the clothing that we sell, before we brought them in. We don’t believe in doing business just over emails!
Our customers are people who care about quality and design, but don’t believe in paying exorbitant prices for it. They are not just parents buying clothing for their children, but aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents and cousins looking for gifts for the people they love.
For example, we had a customer who contacted us to buy a NellyStella dress for her little niece to wear at her wedding. We hope to provide a platform that doesn’t require customers to travel far to find both high-quality and beautifully designed clothing. They just need to go online to buy at their convenience.
We have three brands right now and they serve different purposes:
LINN provides everyday comfort clothing for babies and young children that are suitable for Singapore’s humid weather. Each piece of its clothing is designed and produced in Barcelona, using the highest quality of cotton sources from Egypt and Peru.
MarMar Copenhagen provides clothing that exude both country-chic and urban coolness, and are comfortable yet luxuriously fashionable.
NellyStella is designed to catch the sparkling eyes of little girls with its fairy-tale like tulle dresses with a modern twist. It is particularly popular as occasion wear, such as at weddings, parties and other special events.”
How time consuming is the start-up life? How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
MJS: “Rabbit in the Hole has really become a part of our lives. We think about it when we are driving… when we are observing people shopping during the weekends, and even when we are about to sleep.
In terms of work-life balance, it’s really about knowing your priorities; we will give our full attention to our kids when they are back from school and focus on work when they are in school, having play dates or sleeping.
Although at this point it doesn’t involve so much travelling, we expect to do more of that when and if we do expand to include more brands.”
Any advice to our mums who are thinking of starting their own businesses?
MJS: “As mums, we still place our priorities on our children and you can certainly still do that if you start your own business. But definitely be prepared to sleep less and have less me-time, at least in the beginning.
Taking the first step to starting a business is always the hardest – with family commitment you’ll probably find yourself being more cautious and risk-averse. But if you strongly believe in what you want to do, then you have to just commit to it.
At times you will be doubtful but maintain a positive mindset and find business partners who are willing to brave the obstacles with you.”
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
MJS: “It’s too early to tell at this stage. For now, we’re quite satisfied with the way the business is running and response has been pretty good.
If we had to do anything differently, we’d have hired a professional photographer to take some photos for us rather than spend days trying to perfect photos of the children’s clothing ourselves!”
Well, good luck Melva, Joyce and Sandra… Here’s wishing that ‘Rabbit in the Hole’ scales great heights in days to come!