How A Facebook Group Transformed The Way To Buy Children’s Clothing

According to a recent study by Five of Us, ‘More than 3.15 billion articles of children’s clothing are thrown away every year.’ Katie Wade and her business Wee One’s Wardrobe are challenging this; ensuring there is a sustainable way to provide clothing for children.

Two days after the birth of her second child Ruby, Katie and her family, as well as the rest of the nation, were plunged into lockdown. With clothes not considered an essential item and no visitors allowed, Katie found herself sifting through mountains of clothing from the birth of her first child. “I was sorting through them all and taking out anything that was white and could be reused again … I was thinking why am I keeping all of this? Why have I got all these boys clothes, there’s no point. Half of my anti-natal group have had two or three children I wonder if they would want to swap.”

Local Mum of a 4 year old Reghan points out the popularity of swapping kids’ clothes as they grow “I gave all his baby stuff to other Mums, 3 of my friends who had babies when mine was a toddler all had boys and were in need of clothes. But as he got older I started to realise it’s going to be expensive to replace them all so I’ve stored them in vacuum bags.” She says. Katie recognised this gap in the market and wanted to give these sometimes unworn clothes a second life. And that’s how Wee One’s Wardrobe began. She set up a Facebook group among the local Mums in Aberdeen and started listing items from not only her kid’s wardrobes but her friends too.

“It went a little bit crazier than I expected it to, people from far away were asking can we swap and I said look at the moment we’re just local in Aberdeen, I’m doing it from home keeping it to doorstep stuff … someone even emailed me from Devon asking if we can do swapping. I’m not convinced it’s very sustainable to drive ten hours to get some clothes!” It quickly became apparent the level of need for Wee One’s Wardrobe exceeded a Facebook group.

For Mums, time is precious, Reghan explains that she’s never tried selling clothes online herself as the process is just too long “I’m not really good at selling as I can’t be bothered to get a good picture, upload the picture and deal with all the messages that come in and then go to the post office and send it out whilst knowing how much to charge.”

After hearing how the site works the user simplicity is clear. It is broken down into three parts: Swap, Shop, Repeat. “The first bit is going onto the website and registering and I send them a free shipping bag and label. We recommend around 15-20 to start with so you get an idea of the process, once the bag is full they take it to their local Evri and it gets sent to me.” The clothes then get checked and counted and credits are added to the user’s account to be used on new items from the website.

“I suppose the good thing about it is you can send in girl’s clothes and get boys, you can send in baby stuff and get bigger it can really be anything!” Before uploading Katie always checks the quality of the clothing “I always try and get out stains and things like that out, if I can get it out I will. However, if I can’t, I do have a section on the website ‘perfectly imperfect’ for bundles of leggings etc and everything is £1, it’s sold as seen everyone knows that there is something wrong with them like a little stain or a bit bobbly.”

Reghan confirmed that buying clothes that are ‘perfectly imperfect’ is quite common among Mum’s with younger children “If he needs something specific, like comfy clothes to go to the childminder and get a bit messy, then I’ll buy a bundle of joggers or t-shirts, usually either Vinted or Facebook.”

For Katie, if the clothes don’t fall into the perfectly imperfect category she ensures to find a use for them- donating any items to her children’s school which in turn they receive money for. Throughout the conversation with Katie, her focus on sustainability was clear. She speaks about her choice not to add the brands of items to the listings on the website “I don’t care about what brand the clothes are, I know certain high street brands like Primark etc. are not sustainably made. But I still don’t see why we can’t re-use them, it doesn’t make sense.”

Katie does also accommodate when people send in more designer labels “There is an exclusive range that has like Ted Baker and Joules as I know some people prefer that.”

The local community of Aberdeen has always been involved with Wee One’s Wardrobe; “They are my bread and butter, they’re what made this business, that’s what made the website.” Even when creating the website she ensured to transfer all 60 of Wee One’s Facebook users to the website making it as easy as possible for them “It worked because of them without them it wouldn’t have taken off! They’ve handed in swaps, they gave me bags of clothes so if they want something quickly like “I need a rain jacket! Can I come and get it?” They all know when I’m in and when I’m not or when I’m working so they just pop around whenever!

And every couple of weeks I’ll hold a session at home where they can come and collect so I do like a 2-hour slot on a Friday morning and they can just come and collect the parcel.”

Currently, with 322 users and 3987 items listed, Wee One’s Wardrobe will only grow from here. With plans in the works for subscription bundles including all the essential new-born clothing a baby could possibly need, Mums will be able to switch to the next size whenever their little one is ready.

Katie is using her own experiences raising her children to provide a sustainable solution for other Mums and their babies. Her vision is clear “The clothes are getting reused, we’re being sustainable instead of throwing it away and we’re saving a bit of money and a bit of storage in our homes which is what everybody needs.”

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