Enhancing the Growing Experience through fine clothing for kids

Rabbit in the Hole is a Singapore based online kids clothing store that believes in providing comfort and quality that every child deserves. Joyce, Sandra and Melva the founders of Rabbitinthehole.com stemmed with this idea when they as parents faced challenge, which was lack of high quality, fashionable yet affordable clothing for children. A child’s clothing can influence the quality of their growing experience as it can affect their comfort, health, safety, play and learning.

Today’s parents are increasingly conscious of the quality of clothing that children wear – and rightly so. They believe that children can be very sensitive to scratchy fabrics, and may even react negatively to clothes that have been treated with unsafe chemicals. Small details such as studs and zippers that are not well designed can cause discomfort or even injuries.

With a believe that designer clothes that are comfortable and healthy for children yet affordable should not be difficult to find, Sandra, Melva and Joyce formed Rabbitinthehole.com  and went through a very stringent selection of process of brands to bring in and these are the brands that share the same philosophy as they have. “One of our motivations really stems from provide conscious parents with easy access to these high-quality clothing via an online platform” they say.

Here are some more insights about Rabbitinthehole.com and their founders shared with the team of ABT.

You, Melva and Sandra come from diverse backgrounds, what inspired you three to choose the path of entrepreneurship?
Melva: The path to entrepreneurship was led by the need to fill the gap of high quality, high fashion kids clothing at affordable pricing. The decision to plunge into an arena totally new was not because we’ve built our business model on a conservative ground. Every cent spent is well thought through for the sole purpose of delivering our products from Europe to the fashion-savvy mummies community here. Joyce is a Public Relations specialist, Sandra is operationally meticulous and highly inclined towards customer service, and I have a background of more than 10 years of business development experience. With a good mix of skills, we do not need to outsource, keeping our operating cost low and maintaining an affordable price for our customers.

Sandra:  Coming from the financial sector, I always believed in creating multiple income streams. So when Melva came to me with the idea of going into kids fashion, I jumped onto the bandwagon with enthusiasm. At the same time, I also like the idea of bringing in quality designer clothes that I myself will dress my kids in.

Joyce: It was an opportunity to challenge myself in terms of learning to set up a business. At the same time, I’ve always had a passion for children, having grown up as one of the elder cousins in a big family of 12 younger cousins. Being able to start a business that aims to raise awareness and education around the importance of high-quality children clothing just sounded like a perfect combination for me!

What is your business philosophy?

It’s simple! We believe in selling clothing that we would like our own children to wear.

How does Rabbitinthehole.com create a niche in the market?
All: 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 really anyone who care about quality and design but who do not feel that they should be paying high 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 exudes both country-chic and urban coolness, and is 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.

Did you face any challenges and how did you three overcome it?
When we first started out, 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 emphasized 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.

Another challenge was our lack of digital skills to set up an online portal. But we overcame this by doing our own research, learning and picking up new skills 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.

If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?
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!

Do you feel there are more opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs today?
Certainly. In fact, we’re super proud of the fact that Singapore was recently ranked 8th on a list of cities worldwide ranked for their ability to attract and foster the growth of women-owned firms. This was based on a study by Dell and IHS Market.

We think that both the public and private sectors have created an environment that enables women entrepreneurship. For example, SPRING Singapore has a variety of programmes that assists local businesses in financing and managing a business and even provides support in accessing other markets. We can also tap on the Skills Future initiative to attend courses and pick up new skills that are beneficial to running a business.

Technology and innovation has also made it so much easier for anyone to leverage a whole suite of available tools and platforms to create and manage an e-commerce platform. We’re in a really good place and time for women entrepreneurs to shine!

What is your future road map regarding RabbitintheHole.com?

We hope to continue expanding the breadth of our range of clothing by bringing in more brands that share the same philosophy as us.

We also believe in being personal in all our interactions with customers and partners. So we do a lot of visits and meet them regularly whenever the opportunity arises, to better understand their feedback, needs and concerns. As we go along, we intend to keep up with this level of close interaction, continue to test and learn and remain open to new ideas and possibilities.

Finally, we’re constantly looking out for feedback on ways we can improve our business and partnership opportunities to grow our brand presence. For example, we recently partnered with a children’s music school to explore ways to reach out to parents of young children in Singapore. We hope to do more of these in the future.