Sarah Appleton explains why she devised kids’ clothing website Mini Exchange, and how she hopes to help parents solve a long-standing problem
As any parent will be tell you, children grow out of clothes at an alarming rate.
In the UAE, that often means that children grow out of designer clothes at an alarming rate, leaving potentially thousands upon thousands of high end kidswear items tucked away in wardrobes, or – worse – consigned to the rubbish heap.
On the other side of the coin, there are large numbers of mothers and fathers who look to dress their children in fashionable threads, only to be put off by the high prices.
Identifying these two issues, British entrepreneur Sarah Appleton devised a way to satisfy both sets of parents, launching internet business Mini Exchange (www.miniexchange.com) at the start of 2014.
The website allows users to create accounts, through which they can sell their unwanted items, leaving customers to pick up quality clothing at bargain prices, and thus solving the perennial problem of growth spurts, excess attire, and expensive shopping trips.
Accepting garments from designer labels such as Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren, and Dolce & Gabbana, as well as high street brands such as Gap, Mamas & Papas, and United Colors of Benetton, Mini Exchange has already experienced a huge uptake in its services, attracting about 200 sellers within the first four months.
With a background in corporate finance, Appleton’s move into kids’ clothing might not seem like an obvious one.
But having moved to Dubai two and a half years ago with her then employer Deloitte, it wasn’t long before she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, leading her to think of her next steps.
“At Deloitte I was working with all these investors and their companies. I worked with every type of business, and I wanted to do what they were doing.
“I’m from a big family, and we ran an ebay business while I was in university - buying and selling clothes. It paid for university and gave me good experience in that field.
It was that experience which led her to examine what gaps in the market she could fill, and how she could start her own business.
“Ebay isn’t in Dubai, so people use things like Dubizzle. But you don’t always know what you’re going to get when you agree to buy it - you don’t know that quality, and if you’re a seller you don’t know if the buyer is even going to turn up, let alone pay the money.
“In the US and Europe they have similar things to Mini Exchange, to give people a different way of doing things, but there was nothing out here, so I decided to go for it.
The mechanics of the site are surprisingly simple, with two main sections - the buyers’ side and the sellers’ side.
Appleton says: “The buyers’ side is a normal purchase site. You see all the clothing there, which is all discounted, and the price drops every eight weeks by 25 percent. You get notifications for that. And you can follow sellers and see when new items are added by them.”
The sellers’ side has a much more to it, giving you all the tools you need to help organise your page.
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