When Ginny Hershey-Lambert was Bergdorf Goodman’s executive vice president of merchandising, store planning and design, fashion office, she noticed designers beginning to create kids collections.
“Gucci, Stella, Lanvin — everybody was starting to get into the ‘mini-me’ business,” Hershey-Lambert told WWD.
She left Bergdorf’s in 2012, but before exiting she elevated the kids department with new labels. Now she’s running an online marketplace for “all things kids” called MineMine Kids, which she cofounded with Carolyn McCall. She serves as president and McCall is chief operating officer. The two met when they were shoe buyers at Neiman Marcus.
“There is such an enormous opportunity in this category, that I have moved my entire focus to the world of children’s fashion, life and style,” said Hershey-Lambert. On MineMine Kids, customers can discover brands and boutiques from around the world.
“Millennials care deeply about sustainability and leaving a better world for their children. They are seeing value in the quality and design of the products they purchase for their children, yet their retail options are limited.” She realized the need for a children’s site when shopping for her stepdaughter. “I always had a hard time shopping for her.”
MineMine Kids has merchandise for newborns up to teens including apparel, accessories, shoes, beauty, toys, home decor and furnishings. There are about 150 fashion brands as well as specialty boutiques from around the world on the web site, and about 12,000 items. According to Hershey-Lambert that is greater than Neiman Marcus or Barneys New York currently sell. Her web site, she added, can scale up to support thousands of vendors because of its Magento 2 platform and ships worldwide.
Among the brands are Belle Enfant, Bleu Comme Gris, Andorine, Florence Fancy, The Small Gatsby, Little Lulu’s, Maison Mangostan, Minois Paris, Lil’ Gaea, Art for Kids and Baghera. Boutiques on the site include Norman and Jules, Dodo Les Bobos NYC, Coucou Boston and Munchkin et moi.
“It’s a marketplace. We don’t own any inventory, but I really run the marketplace like I own the inventory,” said Hershey-Lambert. “I work in partnership with brands from around the world and boutiques only in the U.S. right now. We have a drop ship model.”
After an order is placed, customers are contacted. “We want their opinion. We want to find out what they need, when they shop, when they click on an item. We offer a lot of stylist suggestions to help guide you in the buying process.” The web site also generates product suggestions and customers have the convenience of using one shopping cart while selecting from several merchants.
Scrolling through the windows of the web site is reminiscent of ascending the floors of a department store. There’s a floor for baby products from newborn to 24 months; the next floor is for girls 2 to 9; then there’s boys 2 to 9; the teen floor for ages 9 to 15; a shoe floor; a beauty and accessory floor, and the top floor is for home, toys, baby gear and services.
“We call it a premium marketplace — premium in the sense of quality, design and function, not price. If you run the numbers almost 80 percent is under $100. It’s more in line with a Nordstrom price range for kids…We are the first premium marketplace focusing only on the child.”
The site began its testing phase in September and officially launched last month.
“I would definitely say my customer is in the U.S., typically shopping Neiman’s, Saks, Nordstrom and Barneys. I don’t necessarily see them as competition. Our assortments are very different. We have a much broader range of products and a lot of the brands I have are quite limited in their distribution in the U.S.”
Photography and content from vendors appear on the site. In addition, Hershey-Lambert’s husband, Patrice Lambert, who serves as art director, and also cofounded Kids Magazine in France and Kids North America magazine, along with Karina Vigier who is also fashion director for MineMine Kids, create editorial photography, in effect serving as a branding and advertising agency.
Hershey-Lambert, who after Bergdorf’s became president of St. John Knits for a year and a half and worked as a consultant for the Yoox Group and other clients, said the children’s category is projected to be $291 billion global market by 2018 and growing faster than either women’s or men’s fashion. In the U.K., 40 percent of the children’s category purchased is sold online, and 22 percent of children’s wear purchased in the U.S. is sold online, according to an analysis from ContactLab.
The business, based in Newport Beach, Calif., is currently backed by friends and family but the founders are talking with potential investors to help grow the business. The business plans to be profitable in two to three years.