Stirling Sports owner Mark Anderson and former marketing manager of Stirling Sports and current CEO of Thread & Sole Kelly Leigh have joined forces to expand into the kids market. Their first store has launched in Sylvia Park and is aimed at tweens, offering a number of international youth brands under one roof.
Leigh says the pair was inspired to start Thread & Sole after noticing a gap in the market for shops offering established international brands for kids and tweens.
“After working in other large national and international retail chains I witnessed a constant frustration from customers, particularly of the sub-teen market, who almost felt forced to purchase clothing for their kids based on availability rather than having the choice,” Leigh says.
She says it’s not just kids that miss out on branded gear, but also tweens stuck in the transition between childhood and teenagehood.
“We saw a clear space in the market for the sub teens-too, who didn’t want to walk past teddy bears and fairy wands to purchase their chinos and couldn’t necessarily fit into the adult cuts their influencers were purchasing,” Leigh says.
The shop stocks apparel brands French Connection, Firetrap Ouch, Bardot Junior, Majestic and Ben Sherman.
Its footwear brands include Converse, Vans and Dr Martens.
The business plan is ambitious – there are plans to launch five more stores in 2015 and an ecommerce website this week, five to six stores in 2016, and again in 2017.
“This network will be a combination of both company owned and individually franchised stores offering us brand consistency and also the ability to grow our network reasonably aggressively,” Leigh says.
Leigh began her career in retail early at age 13 working in floristry and clothing.
She says her love for retail then grew into a love for visual merchandising, team development and succession and retail operations.
She previously was a visual merchandiser at Adidas, and then met Anderson during her eight years spent as a marketing manager at Stirling Sports.
The pair combined their business smarts, visual merchandising and retail operational skills to create Thread & Sole.
Leigh says the colour palette in store is neutral, letting the visual merchandising and products do the talking.
The result is a fashionable store for a demographic that has long been overlooked in the past.