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Parents rejoice! Discover preloved fashion for kids on Retykle

Parents rejoice! Discover preloved fashion for kids on Retykle

Retykle enables parents to buy and sell preloved secondhand clothing in Hong Kong and Singapore

When it comes to creating a sustainable wardrobe, it’s one thing to grow tired of your clothes, it’s another to grow out of them completely. Unsurprisingly, that’s something that kids specialise in! Indeed, children’s closets are constantly in flux. It’s estimated that on average, they grow out of their clothes once every six months. That’s an awful lot of potential textile waste that they don’t even mean to create!

This recurring situation was the spark that inspired entrepreneur Sarah Garner to launch Retykle, a luxury kids resale platform enabling you to buy and sell over 2500 designer children’s and maternity labels (we’re talking brands like Patagonia, Burberry, Petit Bateau and more!) Based in Hong Kong, the fashion industry veteran and mum of two is on a mission to create circular solutions for the kids fashion segment to help parents create less waste when shopping for their little ones. 

Sarah Garner, founder of Retykle, standing among secondhand kids clothes
Meet Sarah Garner, founder of Retykle

What was your personal journey like to founding Retykle?

I’ve worked in luxury fashion my whole career. When I became a mum, my perspective on my role within the industry shifted and I wanted to reorient my experience towards doing something purposeful and to create solutions.

I became focused on a problem that I wanted to solve for myself, and for all parents. I was confronted with how quickly my baby was outgrowing his clothes and wanted to figure out a way to extend the lifespan of those clothes by efficiently matching them with other parents. Hand-me-downs and donations are wonderful but aren’t always effective at matching supply with demand, so most of our clothes are still going to landfill rather than being reused. I felt that with my extensive experience in the industry, I would be able to figure out how to create an efficient loop that would tackle the issue of temporary use fashion and Retykle was born. 

At Retykle, we’re on a mission to innovate until we can offer parents a solution that is fully circular and free of any environmental footprint because kids shouldn’t be responsible for creating waste just because they grow up!

How do people in Hong Kong feel about secondhand products? Has this presented you with any challenges? 

I launched Retykle in 2016, when the concept of buying and selling second hand online was brand new and not culturally commonplace. I had been living in Hong Kong since 2007 so I was well aware of the cultural apprehensions around pre-owned. When I moved here, I remember being surprised that each time I tried something on in a store and went to purchase, they would present me with the same item from the stockroom in a plastic bag assuring me that it had never been worn and was brand new. I would have been happy to take home the one I tried on in the fitting room that others had also tried on but the more accepted practice here was to require “plastic wrapped never worn,” which illustrates the stigma around pre-worn.

While conceptualising Retykle, we knew we had to deeply understand this apprehension and work to dispel discomfort and replace it with a sense of pride. We have worked tirelessly to change the perception of second hand to present it as not only as good as shopping new but better, since we also offer compelling price, community, and environmental benefits alongside each purchase.

Along with the rest of the world, Hong Kong has accelerated education and awareness around the climate crisis and has started advancing and adopting sustainable lifestyle solutions. Customers, particularly parents, want to make better choices that align with their values and kids’ futures but there is still a long way to go to bring widespread solutions to match these new priorities. 

At Retykle, we’re on a mission to innovate until we can offer parents a solution that is fully circular and free of any environmental footprint because kids shouldn’t be responsible for creating waste just because they grow up!

How have you created an experience around Retykle that appeals to parents like yourself? 

As a busy mum myself, I want to make parents’ lives easier and to give them a sense of purpose, belonging and pride. The majority of parents in our community had never tried buying or selling preloved before, so we’ve converted a huge number of new second hand participants through community engagement. As a result of our efforts, parents feel empowered to advocate on our behalf and this plays a huge role in inviting new Retyklers to the cycle. We all stand together with pride to share that #WeRetykle!

At the same time, I built the company from the view of an industry insider. I’ve worked with companies that have best practices in customer service, merchandising, inventory management, marketing and design. I wanted to marry all the practices of a luxury experience with an accessible platform which puts the customer (aka, parents!) at the centre of all of our decision making. 

Kids grow ridiculously quickly, which is why Retykle's offering is so gamechanging

Sustainability is now one of the fashion industries biggest talking points. How do you approach communicating this as a company? 

As consumers, we’re all waking up to how much impact our past decisions have made on the environment and now it’s time to put our awareness to action. Although we’re all becoming aware of the problems within the fashion industry and how damaging it can be in its traditional form, we’re bombarded with messages of ‘sustainable’ collections and claims. There are no standardisations or requirements for brands to make these claims and consumers are unable to make informed decisions in the absence of transparency. 

At Retykle, we feel that abiding by standardisations and transparency are key to creating trust and accountability. We’re always learning and researching so that in all areas of our business operations, we’re pushing the boundaries to reach new sustainability objectives.

What kind of objectives are you tracking right now for Retykle?

We achieved carbon neutral certification in 2020 and have committed to continue this certification and abide by our manifesto towards further carbon reductions. We have many internal practices to lower our waste and footprint including paid recycling for all office materials to ensure they are properly handled, packaging take back and reuse program, eco-sourcing and internal tracking of employee initiatives. 

Additionally, we feel it is our role to educate our community about the larger context of the problem we endeavour to solve and how their choice to buy pre-loved really stacks up. We created a sustainability framework with an independent carbon offset company to measure the carbon savings of each second hand purchase and have made this accessible at the product level for a collection and will be making this accessible throughout our site so that customers can have a tangible calculation of their impact. Many of our efforts feel hard to measure or elusive in impact and we want to change that through radical transparency and education. We also measure the total carbon and water savings of shopping second hand with us each year so that we can share the pride in our collective actions. 

Kids grow quickly, and for that reason many don’t invest in clothes that are better quality, or a higher price point. Do you hope Retykle can make parents think differently about investing in better? 

Exactly! We feel constantly compelled to change this consumer psychology. It feels wasteful to spend a lot of money on clothes that your children may only wear for a few months, but if you consider the environmental cost of making and disposing of those clothes to your child’s future, the cost of those cheap clothes adds up. By shopping higher quality brands secondhand, you’re presented with a cost alternative to fast fashion.

We have seen huge shifts in behaviour from our community. Many now shop with ‘reselling at Retykle’ in mind and buy with a conscience around choosing better quality and taking more care of clothing. This behavioural shift has a positive impact at both a first hand and second hand level.

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Despite being predominantely online, Retykle and founder Sarah Garner have held pop up experiences to discover their clothes in person
Sarah Garner and the Retykle team have held multiple pop ups across Hong Kong

We have seen huge shifts in behaviour from our community. Many now shop with ‘reselling at Retykle’ in mind and buy with a conscience around choosing better quality and taking more care of clothing. This behavioural shift has a positive impact at both a first hand and second hand level.

You’ve just closed an investment round. Congrats on the milestone! What were your biggest entrepreneurial lessons while fundraising? 

Fundraising is a journey. I learned as much as possible about preparing for fundraising through mentors, accelerators and research. I learned to lean into communityfriends, customers, networkand not to be shy about sharing that you’re fundraising, as you never know where an introduction could present itself. You have credibility and trust with your community built through their observations of your performance over time and so you start several steps ahead on the journey with those who already know you. 

I also think that you need to be conscious of building your professional public profile to demonstrate why you and your team are the right match to solve this problem as ultimately, investors are backing a team. Fundraising is hard and requires grit, perseverance, networking, trust, results and accountability just the same as building your business. 

Retykle is launching soon in Singapore! How can parents locally use the platform? 

We’re so excited to be launching in Singapore! We are now open to sellers in Singapore coupled with locally based stock to shop from which allows for free and fast shipping. We’ve recirculated over 150,000 items in Hong Kong and have developed technology and deep learning around making the experience seamless so that we can bring it to new markets. We can’t wait to make parents lives easier and greener in Singapore!

You can book a free home collection after clearing out your kids’ closets in accordance with our ABC standards. A = Age (newborn to 14 years old + maternity), B = Brand (we list over 2500 brands which can be searched easily), C = Condition (gently used to new with tags). 

Following the free home pick up, we do all the work on your behalf. We photograph, price, list and sell your items with the whole experience automated for you. Each time one of your items sells, you receive an email and you can choose to earn 50% of the selling price in cash or an extra 10% bonus for choosing credit, which you can apply to thousands of designer kids items on Retykle. We can’t wait for more parents to join our cycle!

Finally, tell us a few of your favourite kids brands available on Retykle.

I love Bonpoint for occasion wear, Ralph Lauren for classic staples, Petit Bateau for basics, Louise Misha for bohemian holiday style and Patagonia for activewear. 

Retykle is launching in Singapore on November 5th. Learn more about the platform and get browsing! 

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