Bundlee is an innovative rental platform that was founded by Eve Kekeh to tackle the ultimate fast fashion: kidswear. With babies outgrowing 7 clothing sizes in just 2 years, it really is the ultimate fast fashion - and this is a problem faced by all parents. As part of our Movers & Shakers series, we had the honour to interview Eve and learn more about the kidswear rental revolution and how it all started.
First, can you please tell us about the Bundlee concept?
Of course! Bundlee is the UK’s first baby clothing rental subscription service. With Bundlee, parents can rent their baby’s wardrobe and simply swap for the next size up as they grow.
What’s your background and what pushed you to become an entrepreneur?
I have always wanted to start a business - specifically, a business that could be used as a force for good. I feel very passionately that one of the greatest challenges of our time is saving the environment, and that passion has guided my choices both personally and professionally, ultimately sparking the idea for Bundlee.
Seeing the enormous amount of waste and problematic production practices in the fashion industry made me want to drastically change the way I shopped for myself. While studying and living in the US I became familiar with a number of womenswear rental services and absolutely fell in love with the concept.
I have much younger siblings, and when I returned home, I saw with fresh eyes how quickly they outgrew their clothes. I put the problem together with this new business model of renting - it made so much sense.
How does Bundlee work?
We have two subscription plans - the Capsule Subscription (£24/month) and the Personalised Subscription (£39/month). With the Capsule Subscription, we curate a wardrobe foundation for your little one with 15 pieces from our Bundlee Originals collection in colours and prints that are easy to mix and match. Each bundlee includes a range of bodysuits, sleepsuits, rompers, tops, cardigans, jumpers, joggers and leggings. Renting with our Personalised Subscription means you can choose your favourite 15 pieces from a wide selection of premium brands.
Once you’ve selected your plan and delivery date the clothes arrive at your door ready to wear! Enjoy the clothes without any worries, as the cost of the subscription includes rental insurance and you are covered for life’s messiest moments. Keep the clothes for as long as they fit, and when you are ready just pack them back up in our easy to use zip packaging, use the included free returns label that is included, and drop it off at any post office!
The clothes will then be cleaned through eco-friendly ozone sanitisation and be ready to be loved by the next family. And that’s it! You are ready for your next bundlee!
What are the main benefits of renting vs reselling or donating the clothes when they don’t fit anymore?
Reselling and donating are still great options - at Bundlee our top priority is making sure nothing ends up in a landfill! But renting admittedly does have advantages especially when it comes to baby clothes. First and foremost, asking busy parents of a new baby to take the time to a second hand shop, deal with the big messy moments and effectively care for the clothes, and then make the effort to sell online or take to a charity shop is a lot. Especially as babies outgrow seven clothing sizes in just two years!
Our aim is to take a realistic look at how we can make sustainable choices truly convenient for parents. Secondly, renting with Bundlee means you are getting higher quality clothes than you are likely to find elsewhere. All our clothes (including the clothes from our premium partner brands) are sustainably produced, made from OEKO-TEX cotton, safe for baby’s skin, and durably designed to be worn many times. Lastly, renting with Bundlee addresses the larger impact of the whole fashion industry and the lifespan of each item of clothing.
When you wear a piece from Bundlee you have total confidence it was ethically made, will be cleaned sustainably, and will never end up in a landfill.
How do you pick the brands you’re collaborating with?
For clothes to look and feel their best with every family that rents, we had five key pillars when developing our own brand, Bundlee Originals, and choosing brands to collaborate with: sustainability, ethics, style, comfort and longevity. I’m so proud of the brands we have onboard, which include Patagonia, Mori, and Mini Rodini.
What has been the biggest challenge of starting and running your business?
We are the first to do this in the UK, which is very exciting but with such a new business model, there’s so much to figure out that there isn’t a template for, which can be very time consuming and take a lot of trial and error - but that’s also the fun part!
How has Bundlee been coping with the COVID-19 crisis and what challenges (or opportunities) have you faced followed by the events?
Like everyone else, we had our share of challenges over the last year and a half but we feel very grateful to have been able to continue to provide convenient and clean clothes to families in the UK during the pandemic. During lockdowns, people really sought convenience, and during some periods of time, there were very few ways to buy clothes - especially sustainably. It brought us a lot of joy to be able to connect with families and provide a service for them during a difficult time.
What is something that most people don't know about kids' fashion, that you wish they did?
People know kids grow fast, but it’s hard to quantify just how many clothes they get through. Babies outgrow seven clothing sizes in their first two years. Constantly buying new clothes for growing babies is a huge cost to parents. It’s also a huge cost to the environment – it takes 250 litres of water and 2kg of carbon to produce a single baby-grow. It really is the ultimate fast fashion.
If you could rule the world for one day, what would be your first change?
Good question! I would make brands responsible for the end of life of their products. It’s very frustrating to see industry giants not acknowledge their role in the global harm fast fashion causes.
What is your best tip for people who want to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle but don't know where to start?
You don’t have to be perfect! It’s so much better that more of us make small changes than just a few doing things “perfectly”. Don’t get overwhelmed, start with one thing and let it snowball from there. That one thing could be cutting down on meat, reducing your single-use plastic use, or renting a dress for your next date night instead of buying. It all makes a difference.
What is a book/ movie/ podcast you have recommended to your friends/ colleagues recently and why?
“That Will Never Work” by Marc Randolph the founder of Netflix, is that rare business book that brought me to tears! There are so many parallels between Netflix’s model and Bundlee’s, and it’s such an inspiring book for anyone who’s got an idea they want to make a reality.
At BLANC, we cannot agree more with Vivienne Westwood's message "Buy less, choose well, make it last". Do you notice a shift in mindsets in general or do you think there’s still some work for this approach to become mainstream?
There has definitely been a shift over the last couple of years, it seems to me that people are taking more time to research and educate themselves on the impacts of our wardrobe. That said, we still have a long way to go before we start seeing consumption trends truly change. Companies like BLANC that make it easier for adults to adapt their fashion habits and take care of what they already have are doing such important work - over time those habits trickle into better buying habits for the whole family, the whole community, the whole world!
What goals do you hope to achieve in the future in terms of sustainability, whether personally or for your company?
Sustainability is in-built into the core of our model, so the more families we get on board, the more of a positive impact we make. As well as renting the clothes, therefore reducing new clothing production and increasing the lifespan of clothes, we also use reusable packaging, clean and sanitise clothes using eco-friendly methods.
We save 86% CO2e and 96% water usage compared to buying new baby clothes! I would say a goal for us is to be at the front of new innovations, constantly trying to improve. We want to be the most environmentally friendly way to dress your baby as they grow.
How do you hope the landscape of fashion will look in 5 years time?
Circular! I hope to see more rentals, more sharing, and more reuse of what we already have.