Welcome to a new series on the blog, Shop Tales, where we profile cool stores that we love and the people who brought them to life.
Online shop modernrascals.com has only been around for seven months but already it’s making its mark on the international playground-set. Founded by mom of two, Jana Reid, the shop sells unisex fashion (sourced mainly from Europe) for your mini-me’s in mostly, primary colours and nary a pink frilly dress in sight. While she admits that some parents are still hesitant about paying more for a onesie or a pair of leggings—compared to the prices of fast-fashion chains—she says that these are clothes that’ll last and can be passed down from one kid to the next and still look great. But it’s not just about providing cool, gender-neutral outfits, Jana also makes sure that the clothes she sells are organic and from ethically-minded companies (they provide workers get a living wage!) practicing sustainable fashion.
SHOP TALK WITH JANA
What attracted you towards bright, graphically-designed kid clothes?
I’ve always been a fan of bright colours. I’m not really someone who can ‘tone down’ who I am to fit in so I just stopped trying to fight it and embraced it. Which means that my spaces are bold, bright, and comfortable—full of art and handmade blankets and quilts.
How do you choose the labels that you carry?
When I’m looking at new brands I’m first attracted to bright colours and fun patterns. If I like what a brand has then I’ll investigate more to see how they run their business. For example, do they support ethical treatment of workers? Do their manufacturing processes help reduce the environmental impact of fashion? My general inspirations are two of the brands that I’ve been buying personally for my own kiddo for the last 4 years: Boys & Girls shop, which is an edgy, East London brand that specializes in unisex functional kids’ clothes and DUNS Sweden, which has one of the best basics lines (More Than a Fling) I’ve ever encountered (their $20 organic cotton leggings have lasted 2.5 years and are being passed down to our second babe).
Why did you start your shop?
I quit my full-time gig when I was pregnant with my second. I was just done with the politics and games and general misogyny [of my corporate life]. My second was about 3 months old when my husband and I were tossing around ideas about what I could do. At the same time, I was being stopped on the street almost daily and asked where I found my older kids’ clothes. And so, I jumped off the cliff, decided to open an online shop and literally had the basics in place a week later. The order cycle for the brands we bring in is anywhere from 6-9 months, so I had lots of time to figure out everything else and get it in place before we went live in September 2016. I had lots of days where I was sitting in bed next to a napping baby while I was trying to figure out clothing orders.
How has your previous occupation and skills helped you run your current business?
I was a Director of Product Development and Solutioning for a financial services tech startup. My back ground is a combination of credit card launches, product development, and financial analysis, backed by an MBA and a degree in Immunology. The thread through all of it is that I like big, complex systems which has enabled me to quickly look at risks, decide what can be descoped (for now), figure out the best place to spend my limited time, and decide on what I should outsource.
From your launch to present, how has promoting your shop evolved?
In the beginning, I mostly focused on friends and Instagram. As I’ve gotten bigger, I’ve begun to do more targeted Facebook advertising, working with blogger or Instagram influencers, and participating in interviews on blogs like yours! And I’m still working away on Instagram and building the relationships that evolve our business one reply at a time. One of the amazing things is that I’ve started getting messages from people who have seen our clothing out in the wild and then found us online and become customers. That lets me know that I’m on the right track.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
The business has doubled after only a few months. I’ve taken the same energy and drive that I used in my previous corporate life, and am applying it to Modern Rascals. I think that I’ve been able to grow so fast because I believe that it’s better to do it (and do it badly) at first then to hold off until it’s perfect. An example is that I started with terrible Facebook ads last fall, and have gradually gotten better as I’ve gone. If I’d waited until I felt comfortable with them I might never have gotten started! My underlying philosophy is that I need to be able to sleep at night, with a clear conscious. One of the benefits of it being my own business is that I’m not forced to deliver projects that make me feel guilty or uncomfortable.