As parents to two young children, Jennifer Martin and her husband Ripley were growing exasperated with dressing their two rapidly growing kids.
With a background in retail and business, the duo launched Sprouting Threads in April 2015, a subscription-based children’s clothing service that ships boxes of pint-sized garments to children on a monthly or seasonal basis. The selling point: The service anticipates sizing increases.
Sprouting Threads is one of several children-oriented clothing offerings that have cropped up over the past few years, taking a cue from the success of companies like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, which market to busy professionals with the allure of remote personal styling and convenient shipping options. While they range in style and offerings, they operate on similar algorithmic models that take user-generated information on preferences and collaborate with stylists to curate boxes of clothing for consumers, who select which outfits they want and ship back the rest.
As with similar subscription models, companies like Rockets of Awesome waive shipping fees and require users only to pay for the clothing they choose to buy. Many tout affordability, like KidBox, founded by Haim Dabah and led by Miki Racine Berardelli, which charges $14-$16 per item, and incorporates a philanthropic element by donating an outfit to a child in need for every purchased box. Others like Runchkins offer a service that allows shoppers to sell back items of clothing once a child outgrows it, while KidPik has a “keep all” discount at if the consumer decides to take everything in the box.
According to Rachel Blumenthal, founder of Rockets of Awesome, the primary difference between the children’s boxes and those of adult services like Stitch Fix is they operate on a more simplistic model for parents who don’t need the same level of consultative services for their children as they do for identifying appropriate office wear.
“[Parents] weren’t going to be interested in having a whole bunch of conversations,” she said. “They’re busy, working parents. They’re more apt to sign up and use five minutes to input their profile information.”
Blumenthal, who started the company as a spinoff of her parenting website, Cricket’s Circle, said it was the comments on the site that she was inspired to start her subscription service. Rather than curate clothing from outside brands, Rockets of Awesome opts to produce its own brand of clothing, and offers an e-commerce element for parents to purchase additional garments of select they enjoyed from the subscription box. Blumenthal said this was an effort to better understand the needs of consumers and not feel beholden to outside brands.
“We consistently heard over and over again the frustration of shopping for kids,” she said. “Customers were always having to sacrifice between style and value. We wanted to simplify the lives of parents, do the work for them and deliver a personalized service to them in a risk-free way.”
For companies like Sprouting Threads, users can also opt for a blend of new and used items to curb costs, and preemptively anticipate changes in sizing. Though Sprouting Threads started with sizes 2-8, they have since expanded to size 12 to accommodate for the fickle pre-teen market. Anticipating the style proclivities of prepubescents isn’t the easiest endeavor, but Martin said the effort has facilitated bonding between older children and parents as they foster their personal sense of style and have discussions about what they like.
“Kids need new clothes every season. It’s incredibly time consuming as a parent, to have to replace an entire wardrobe. If I can have a relationship with a brand that knows my preferences, that is a tremendous value to me,” she said.