When James Reinhart started thredUP a number of years ago it was a site where parents could swap boxes of used children’s clothing – a practical solution for his own kids’ outgrown clothes. Since then thredUP has gone on to become a site where savvy shoppers aka “Badass-moms” can find upmarket one-of-a-kind accessories, everyday basics, and stylish clothing – for their kids as well as for themselves – at huge discounts.
Now there’s a new kid on the secondhand market block – Kidizen – with a focus on kids’ clothes, toys, and accessories, which differs from marketplaces like ThredUp in that sales are not limited to high-end items. Users, most of whom are moms, have the flexibility to list lesser-quality clothing which can be posted as lots or individual pieces. Given the better potential for sales, many of the listings do tend to be mid- to high-end apparel, or even boutique clothing. Another major differentiator is that sellers get to keep 82% of their profits.
Secondhand Means Busine$$
The secondhand industry is gaining momentum with growth in the resale market expected to outpace all e-commerce and retail sectors over the next 10 years – with a $25 billion total resale market being predicted by 2025.
Enter Kidizen. With more than 100 percent year-over-year growth and a quarter of a million registered users across the U.S., the Minneapolis-based company has just raised $3.2 million in Series A funding led by Chicago-based Origin Ventures. Also participating in the round were Royal Street Ventures, Corigin Ventures, and MergeLane, along with prior investors Sofia Fund and Gopher Angels. Brent Hill, a partner at Origin Ventures, and Laura Brady, a partner at Royal Street Ventures, will join the company’s board of directors.
“We will be using our funding to develop features that help our members connect, share and express their sense of style as well as to expand our community-curated content platform,” Mary Fallon, Kidizen co-founder, told SnapMunk. “Our purpose is to create a Mom’s economy, where individuals are empowered both economically and socially through sharing – thereby living more meaningful and sustainable lives.”
Kidizen is positioned as a mobile marketplace run by moms for moms. It connects moms and allows them to shop, sell, and share their kids’ style. Think Etsy meets Facebook for moms – with an Instagram-like interface in which the use of an aqua blue font for user names adds to the perception of white space and design appeal.
Founded in February 2014, Kidizen is run by three parents and co-founders: Mary Fallon, Dori Graff, and CEO Dug Nichols. The idea emerged from Fallon’s and Graff’s previous platform, Itizen, launched in 2010, which tracked the stories attached to collectible items as they changed hands. Turns out that folks were more interested in selling than tracking – which is how Kidizen came to be.
How It Works
The mobile app provides a storefront for moms where they can earn money as well as find the latest styles for their kids. Making a listing as easy as taking a snap, while the social aspect of the app provides a community that connects moms with other moms through shared experiences.
The online community / social network aspect of Kidizen is another differentiator from other secondhand marketplaces, particularly the “Gallery” feature which lets moms post photos of their kids’ style. The feature was added about two years ago and has become a core part of the app.
Filled with lifestyle photography the feel of scrolling through the gallery is very like Instagram. Like Instagram, the photos shared in Kidizen can be pushed out to other social networks, and other users can comment on the photos, adding to the social aspect of the app.
“Our users are using Kidizen to express themselves,” explained Nichols to TechCrunch. “Users have pride in how they express their sense of style.”
Having scrolled through the gallery, I can attest that the result is adorable. Not all photos are of items for sale – sometimes a mom just cannot resist sharing a photo of a newborn or toddler – as per the poppet with the huge blue eyes I saw, with the caption saying, “My darling baby.”
Hashtagging is popular with tags added by moms to both their own photos and listings as well as those belonging to other users. Hashtags under #Threads when I browsed were #hipster (my personal fave), #boho (Aww…), #nwt (had to Google, then #smh), #winter and #outerwear.
“Basically, they’re creating what are like these curated collections through the hashtag…It’s in its infancy, but what we’re seeing that this is really a self-expression platform that’s both about the stuff and the style and inspiration,” said Nichols.
It’s dead easy to #addathread with helpful suggestions given, like #brooklynbabes and #giveaways.
High Repeat Usage
The community element is said to be why the app is seeing high repeat usage – 88 percent of all sessions are said to be daily repeat users, and 55 percent are hourly repeats. In addition, 80 percent of purchases are coming from repeat customers, the company says.
Word-of-mouth seems to be driving growth. “We see 70 percent organic user acquisition monthly. Most come with a need: buy or sell, and they stay because of the community engagement,” said Nichols. The marketplace is also growing to include more than just individual moms and power sellers, and now includes a small number of users who run boutique clothing shops similar to those found on Etsy.
The funding will be used to add more features to the service, including those that allow for more curation, sharing, and self-expression, but the specifics of this are being kept under wraps at present. A future iteration will take on Facebook Groups by introducing a local selling component.
The funding will also allow the Minneapolis-based company to grow its team of five to 15, refresh its apps and eventually expand the service to the web.
The Bottom Line
The app was very easy to install and intuitive to use. As mentioned before, the use of the aqua blue font adds to the perception of white space and gives a clean feel to the design.
Gail is a Chicago-based food scientist who writes for leading US and European food and technology publications. A devotee of all things shiny, electronic and buzzing, with a passion for building on-line communities and conservation, she is an entrepreneur and founder of a sustainability and social media startup who moonlights on weekends as DJ Moongirl on Moonalice Radio. Clients range from rock bands and media companies to high-tech startups.
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