While walking through a shopping social at Toronto Yoga Mamas I had the pleasure of chatting with the lovely ladies of Little White Sneakers. I learned a little bit about their blossoming new business and when I found out that they were a sustainable and socially conscious shop that sells new and like new clothes for kids, I couldn’t wait to hear more! So we planned to meet-up at their Toronto shop.
Kara & Raegan welcomed me into their shop like a new friend, we chatted for hours and shared stories. I learned so much about their business and how it all started. Kara & Raegan are cousins who both realized how quickly their little ones were growing out of their clothes and decided to come up with a solution to this. Amidst laughter and shared experiences in motherhood, we talked about the need for a company like this and how important it is to pass along gently used clothes rather than throwing them away.
Little White Sneakers sources high quality brands (new and like new) that can be passed down from one kid to the next. With a focus on organic and local brands (many of the brands they sell are Toronto based) they are building a sense of community and connection with in their shop and creating shopping experience that parents can feel good about.
As a mother of two living in a small space, I can honestly say that we might be drowning in loads of little laundry. I can remember washing the very first load of baby laundry before our oldest was born and getting so excited about the little tiny load and folding the little tiny clothes. Well, that was fun, one time. Now the basement is filled with an excessive amount of clothes that we are keeping just in case. But after over two weeks of spring cleaning, which involved a lot of purging I’m thinking it’s time to find these tiny clothes a new home!
While visiting Little White Sneakers I found some adorable gently used pieces that my little ones have worn many times since! It’s so true how quality made pieces really do wash and wear way better.
I’m so excited to introduce all of you to Kara and Raegan of Little White Sneakers and share their entrepreneurial story as this month’s Creative Career Moms.
- I want to start off by saying that this is the most adorable name for a kids’ clothing company. Can you tell us a little bit more about the story behind Little White Sneakers and it’s unique name?
We were on mat leave at the same time and got to talking about kids clothes. Chloe, Kara’s daughter, had just outgrown her expensive white sneakers after only wearing them three times! We both recognized that high-quality stuff from great brands wear a lot better but cringed at the thought of how much money we spend these clothes because our kids grow SO QUICKLY! We knew there must be a lot of other beautiful clothes looking for new homes because there were not a lot of options for parents to sell (and buy!) them. And so… Little White Sneakers was born!
- I seriously love when women and families come together to create something amazing! And that’s exactly what happened with LWS. What made you ladies decide that it was time to start something like this?
We had both been at our busy Bay Street corporate jobs for a while. We craved a new challenge and more control over our lives! We were lucky enough to be on mat leave at the same time, and took this opportunity to meet with lots of entrepreneurs and small business owners, and explore building a business together. We did some initial research and found successful businesses in the US and Europe and saw so much potential in Canada. We both took the plunge and resigned from our jobs (gulp!) in order to launch LWS.
- There’s something amazing about the sense of community embedded in this company. Can you tell us a bit more about the concept behind LWS and how you work with other local companies and individuals?
Little White Sneakers only sells high-quality kids clothes from brands that last. Not only do these clothes wash and wear a lot better, they are often made by brands committed to more sustainable and ethical clothing production.
We source all of our resale collection from Toronto families. In addition to these clothes, we also have a collection of clothes that have been made in Toronto (mostly by mom-owned companies!!).
For every $100 spent at our store, over 95% of it goes right back into the community (compared to $14 at chain stores)!
- Little White Sneakers has a beautiful shop right in the city of Toronto providing customers with both an online and in person experience. When did the store front open and what’s it like to have your own store in the city?
We opened our store front in May 2016 (about 6 months after we launched our online store). We had grown out of our small office space and need a more permanent location. A store-front was a natural evolution for us! We love getting to know our customers in person, and having a place where our customers can hang out (we have a small kids play area where the kiddos can be entertained while their parents shop and chat).
- Sustainability is such a huge part of our world today and we don’t always consider things like clothing and textiles to be a part of the problem. My little ones are still so young and we already have a lot of excess clothing in boxes that we aren’t sure what to do with. LWS has created such a fabulous solution to this global issue. Can you tell us a bit more about the sustainability portion of your company?
The sustainability element of our business continues to be a big motivator for us. The impacts of fast fashion are scary (for those not familiar with the lingo, fast fashion is the promotion of high-volume, low-quality clothes that are meant to be purchased and worn just a few times, after which the clothes fall apart and must be thrown out). We buy clothes at five times the rate we did in 1980! Brands make us feel good about the fact that we can buy a t-shirt for only $5 (what a steal!), but aren’t upfront about the negative impacts of these purchases – it takes 3 years of drinking water to produce just one t-shirt, and this t-shirt is often made in a developing country by someone earning far less than a living wage.
We only carry high-quality brands (allowing people to avoid these fast fashion brands but still benefit from savings!), and have created an easy and convenient place to buy and sell these items.
- As a company who has already achieved so much, an online store a storefront in a major Canadian city and a fabulous solution to a global issue, what are your hopes for the future of LWS? What’s in store for LWS in 2017?
Our ultimate goal is to make kids clothing resale mainstream. There are so many benefits to buying second-hand, but it is not easy or convenient to find what you need! We know the market is looking for an online solution so making our products available online will always be a priority. We will continue to expand our product offering so that you will always be able to find what you need from us.
Little White Sneakers is taking part in my Spring Small Shop Giveaway (giving away a $35 shop credit!)
Head on over to Instagram to enter!