Every new mother knows that those two little blue blue lines that appear on the pregnancy test are essentially code for, "Time to go shopping!"
Tiny little shoes. Gorgeous little onesies. Delightful baby dresses (or in my case: no dresses, but lots and lots of pants). When children’s clothes are so incredibly adorable, they’re simply too good to resist.
But taking a little step back, when we begin to consider the remarkable impact the fashion industry has on landfill – not to mention the damage those tiny outfits can have on our bank balance – it can be a tough pill to swallow.
That’s why we were so delighted to see the launch of Retykle – a Hong-Kong based (but internationally-shipping) platform that buys and sells designer baby, children’s and maternity clothing.
Retykle was launched by Sarah Garner, who started the site to make buying and selling clothing as convenient and stylish as it would be to buy new. Having now spent hours on her website perusing the options for all three of my children (and my own growing pregnant body), I can attest that this is no eBay experience. Set up like a designer store, Retykle helps meet our price and eco-conscious needs, without sacrificing style or quality.
Having worked in luxury fashion for over ten years at high-end establishments including Lane Crawford, LVMH, Richemont Group and Holt Renfrew, Sarah knew first-hand how many high-quality items often sit in closets with their tags still on. Therefore, Retykle allows us to turn our idle kids’ clothes (so many of which are worn only once or twice) into cash, without wasting any of our precious time or closet space. And then of course, the shopping opportunities when it’s time to buy a size up.
We spoke to Sarah about the concept, how she shops for her own children, and some valuable style tips that we’re taking note of. With brands that range from Moncler and Bonpoint to Burberry and Stella McCartney, we challenge you not to fall in love with Retykle.
Tell us a little about Retykle.
Retykle is an online platform for buying and selling pre-loved kids designer fashion. Born from the urgent need for solutions in a struggling industry, Retykle was created to offer alternative conscious solutions to parents by tackling the compulsive thirst for newness and simultaneously addressing the unavoidable rotation of clothing that occurs for every Tyke in their wardrobe. We wanted to create an effortless solution by rewarding parents for making high quality purchase decisions, keeping those items in circulation and away from landfill and changing the concept and experience of shopping second hand to feel as good, if not better, than buying new.
Where did the idea stem from?
I had worked in corporate luxury fashion for over ten years and was witness to the unsustainable pace and insatiable appetite across the industry. After having my first child, I knew I wanted to dedicate my experience to a better side of the fashion world. I set out to create a business model designed to recirculate product, a circular business model with the sole purpose of positively impacting families, our communities and the environment. With kids outgrowing an average of 1700 items of clothing before they are fully grown, I knew we needed to adopt a more conscious mindset about the lifecycle of clothes and essentially extending their life-span.
What did your career entail before Retykle?
I tried to learn as much as possible about the fashion industry from my first experience onwards. In high school I started on the retail floor at Club Monaco and chose my university major based on the requirements for the Junior Buying program at Bloomingdale’s in New York. I landed the internship and from there I spent several years in showrooms, runway shows and travelling many months of each year, keeping pace on the fashion treadmill. I took on senior management roles in the last few years leading teams in inventory management, merchandising, planning, product development and visual merchandising before starting Retykle. Each experience has prepared me for all that comes with running a company of my own.
You have such a great collection of items and brands. How do you go about sourcing them and attracting the right sellers?
I appreciate that, thank you! There are thousands of well-made beautiful kids brands available, we have over 1100 brands currently on the site and our list is growing daily! Our sellers travel often, shopping all over the world. We house their beautifully curated wardrobes under one roof, the best edit of the best brands from across the globe. Our sellers love that we take away any hassle of resale whilst putting cash back in to their pockets and by giving their items a second life they are able to positively impact the environment. It is so gratifying. The experience of convenience and adding value to their lives has a ripple effect, they tell friends and family and the Retykle community continues to grow.
What countries do you source from/ship to?
Retykle started in Hong Kong so most of our sellers are currently from Hong Kong however we are expanding. We accept orders from anywhere in the world and can ship globally for flat rates ($25 AUS).
At the moment, we can accept sellers from Australia with shipping costs born by the seller to Hong Kong. We can help with organising a home pick up by courier. We hope to open up fully in Australia very soon!
How have you approached marketing and social media?
Transparency and communication are very important to us. We feel that along with our positive impacts to the fashion industry and the environment is the need and responsibility to educate and share information, to connect with our community. The more information a person knows about the impact of their fashion choices, the more they will understand and feel invested in being a part of the solution. We love to showcase our Retykle community, it is a fantastic platform to have a closer relationship to your customer and your audience.
What have been the biggest challenges in running your own business?
I am extremely passionate about what we are building and the mission I have set out to accomplish. As a result, it’s hard to find the off switch. I enjoy the challenges of wearing many hats but as we grow I love building a team of incredible people who fill in my skill gaps. I found the initial challenges of finding the right tech talent to bring the vision to life the biggest challenge but tackled it by educating myself and just plain perseverance.
What about your greatest successes and joys?
It’s all happening in this chapter. My husband and kids are the centre of my world and I have an incredible family. I’m eternally grateful to be doing what I love and to have the support from those I love.
What does a daily routine look like in your home?
During the weekdays, the mornings can be a bit frantic, it’s a hustle to get everyone ready and out the door on time. I drop the kids off at their preschool which is near our home and then head to the office which is also nearby. I work until 6pm and then shoot home for bath and bedtime. Once the kids are in bed, I tend to power up again. On weekends, we dedicate all our time and attention to the kids and do everything we can to incorporate adventures in the outdoors.
How do you manage the juggle of business and small children?
There are always days that are a struggle but in general sticking to a daily routine works well.
What are some of your favourite maternity brands?
I am a wardrobe minimalist and so I tried to avoid buying true maternity wear. I bought a few pairs of maternity jeans from J Crew and J Brand and then worked with ‘regular’ clothes and borrowed. We expanded to maternity to address the issue of temporary maternity wardrobes and give women more choices at low prices than turning to poor quality options which are then discarded.
What about brands for children?
We have an inside view of which brands withstand wear best and I’m a personal fan of Patagonia, Bonpoint, Petit Bateau and Jacadi for my kids based on their quality and design.
How do you approach dressing your children?
I shop secondhand first and try to buy one size bigger to extend the lifespan of each item for my kids. I create capsules for each season and size so that each item serves a wardrobe purpose and can be interchanged. For pyjamas, tees and sleep sacs, I try to buy unisex designs so they can be passed down from my son to my daughter. I only put an item in their wardrobes that I’m comfortable with them wearing so that they can assert some autonomy over their choices. Both of my kids (4 & 2) get a big kick out of creating their own looks. How we dress is an important extension of identity and beliefs and I want them to understand conscious fashion as early as possible.
We’re at such an important moment in time in terms of sustainability when it comes to fashion - how else do you practice sustainability in your own life?
We make changes to our daily habits to cut down on single use plastics, disposables and incorporate recycling wherever possible. We buy what we need (or love) and avoid what we don’t to cut down on unnecessary consumption and waste.
How do you teach your children about recycling and sustainability?
My husband repairs or mends practically anything, from a broken bench in the last typhoon to a toy car, and I think that’s become a big part of how we teach our kids about the value of each possession and taking care of what we already own. They are still young but they seem to absorb lessons through taking action, books and storytelling. We have stories about recycling that helps to guide some conversations. Our goal is to teach them through our actions so that it’s what we do and not what we say.
What's next for Retykle?
Well, without giving away too much! We are already on the road to expanding into new markets hopefully being a vehicle for those new communities to bring about change in the same way we have here in Hong Kong, along with plans to develop a new facet to our business by continuing to push the envelope and making those pipe dreams of becoming a fully integrated circular model a reality. Our mission is to create a new way to shop and possibly a new way of thinking, new ways of making you kids items live new life-cycles over and over. Avoid the landfill and join our collective #WeRetykle.