Rabbit in the Hole (www.rabbitinthehole.com), a new online fashion portal that provides kids clothing created by designers around the world that care, has now launched in Singapore.Created by three Singaporean women, Rabbit in the Hole is a new online store that features a mix of imaginative flower-girl dresses, country-chic pieces as well as ultra-comfortable everyday wear suitable for babies to pre-teens.
Rabbit in the Hole features designer pieces hand-picked from only a very select few trusted brands. This includes, LINN, MarMar Copenhagen and NellyStella – clothesmakers who take tremendous care in the quality of fabric used, and designs they create.
LadyBoss spoke to the Co-Founders Joyce Peh, Sandra Theng and Melva Hocker about their venture.
We wanted to touch and feel the material of every piece of clothing for ourselves
Q: Tell us about Rabbit in the Hole. How long you’ve been doing it, and who your customers are?
A: We’re an online kids’ fashion portal that provides kids clothing created by designers around the world that care. We provide a mix of imaginative flower-girl dresses, country-chic pieces as well as ultra-comfortable everyday wear suitable for babies to pre-teens.
We officially launched our online store in June this year, but we’ve started planning this since last year, having travelled around Europe to source for brands and meeting with owners of our selected brands: LINN from Spain, MarMar from Copenhagen and NellyStella, whose owner travelled to Singapore to meet with us. We wanted to touch and feel the material of every piece of clothing for ourselves and understand the legacy behind the creation of the clothing that we sell, before we brought them in. We don’t believe in doing business just over emails!
Our customers are really anyone who care about quality and design but who do not feel that they should be paying high prices for it. They are not just parents buying clothing for their children, but aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents and cousins looking for gifts for the people they love. For example, we had a customer who contacted us to buy a NellyStella dress for her little niece to wear at her wedding. We hope to provide a platform that doesn’t require customers to travel far to find both high-quality and beautifully designed clothing – they just need to go online to buy at their convenience.
Q: Tell us about your backgrounds and the team?
Because of our very diverse backgrounds, we bring a great balance of perspectives into the business. One thing that is most important is the fact that we truly value and respect each other’s unique opinions.
Melva has background in the corporate business sector and thus brings lots of great business planning and strategy into the team. Sandra, an ex-flight attendant with Singapore Airlines and now a financial provider, is someone who really cares for her customers and clients. She drives a strong focus on our customers and ensure that in whatever we do, we do it to best meet our customers’ needs. Joyce is an experienced communications professional and that naturally makes her the person in charge of creatives, marketing and communications.
Both Melva and Sandra each have two kids of their own – and needless to say they are experienced parents who understand what fellow parents are looking for: quality and comfort in clothing their children. Joyce is a mother-to-be, something we’re all very excited about!
We like to listen to each other’s opinion and weigh in on them together. Most importantly, we feel that that we should enjoy what we are doing and have fun. In fact, most of the time we get together, we end up chatting more than getting real work done!
Most importantly, we feel that that we should enjoy what we are doing and have fun.
Q: Tell us about the brands on your website
We have three brands right now and they serve different purposes. LINN provides everyday comfort clothing for babies and young children that are suitable for Singapore’s humid weather. Each piece of its clothing is designed and produced in Barcelona, using the highest quality of cotton sources from Egypt and Peru. LINN designs their own patented machines that are able to create cotton knitted clothing just as good – if not better than – hand knitted cotton clothing.
MarMar Copenhagen provides clothing that exude both country-chic and urban coolness, and are comfortable yet luxuriously fashionable. NellyStella is designed to catch the sparkling eyes of little girls with its fairy-tale like tulle dresses with a modern twist. It is particularly popular as occasion wear, such as at weddings, parties and other special events.
Q: How do you stay ahead in the competitive industry of children’s fashion?
To be honest, we are still learning as we go. But we believe that one key starting point is the need to start educating consumers in Singapore about the importance of quality when looking for clothing for kids… and getting them to understand that quality doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.
This is our value proposition and we believe that it is something that is currently lacking in Singapore’s kids fashion environment. So we hope to work towards bridging this gap and making fashionable, high-quality clothing more accessible via RabbitintheHole.com.
Even after we had selected our brands, we didn’t have the digital skills to set up the online portal… neither are we the most tech-savvy people around.
Q:What were the challenges you faced starting Rabbit in the Hole? How did you overcome the challenges and obstacles?
A: It took us quite a long time to identify the right brands that shared the same philosophy as us. Then, it also took a bit of convincing for us to gain the agreement of the brand owners for us to bring their products into Singapore seeing that we are a small start-up. We were firm on our position that we didn’t want to just create an online shop that provided mass-produced clothing but one that provided carefully-curated clothing that emphasized on both quality and design. Eventually, we ended up building quite a good and strong relationship with our brands and we’re really happy with the fact that none of the brands we’ve selected do mass production.
But our challenges didn’t just end there – even after we had selected our brands, we didn’t have the digital skills to set up the online portal… neither are we the most tech-savvy people around. So we had to pick up new skills and learn together, egging each other on along the way. It was pretty tough and we put in many hours in learning and building this business from scratch, but it’s been a great journey so far and we’ve learnt so much together.
Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your customers, and what works?
A: We believe in being personal in all our interactions with customers and partners. So we do a lot of visits and meet them regularly whenever the opportunity arises, to better understand their feedback, needs and concerns. As we go along, we intend to keep up with this level of close interaction, continue to test and learn and remain open to new ideas and possibilities.
One of our motivations also really stems from being able to bring in these clothing that would otherwise be hard for people to buy from Singapore.
Q: As entrepreneurs, what motivate you personally?
A: Seeing satisfied customers who appreciate the clothes we provide and receiving pictures of their children, nieces or nephews in our clothes!
People often ask us where we get the clothes that our children wear from. When we tell them that they are from overseas, they get disappointed because it’s hard for them to get. So, one of our motivations also really stems from being able to bring in these clothing that would otherwise be hard for people to buy from Singapore. We hope to create a more dynamic kids fashion environment right here in Singapore.
Q: What would be your advice for finding co-founders/partners in business?
Find people who can disagree but still be willing to sit down and work things out with you. Also, people who are willing to take the same level of risks with you. This may sound cliché but at the end of the day, chemistry is so important!