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The Retail Hotlist: Freedom Kids has the 'Hottest ecommerce concept'

  • News
  • August 10, 2018
  • Courtney Devereux
The Retail Hotlist: Freedom Kids has the 'Hottest ecommerce concept'
Nominees: Plant and Pot, Creative Hush, Well Made Clothes, Freedom Kids, DropIt, Container Door, Thieve.co, Give Plants, Designer Wardrobe, Not Socks.

People’s choice
Not Socks

Judges’ choice
Freedom Kids

In an age where gender-neutral and ethically-made clothing is just catching on, Freedom Kids is ahead of the curve. Offering a completely genderless site, the online retailer offers childrenswear sorted by age, rather than gender.

Freedom Kids, a family run business, works only with other small businesses: many of the labels it stocks are owned and operated by a single individual. All clothing it stocks is ethically made, gender neutral and allows children to play freely. With a strong ethos centred around social and environmental responsibility, the site also lets consumers shop by values; organic, fair trade, and made in New Zealand.
 

Freedom Kids intends to disrupt the status quo in the world of children’s clothing. This is something that founder and director Rachel Hansen wants to reflect in all avenues of the business, including its ecommerce offering.

Hansen has three children herself, and knows what a precious commodity time becomes to parents. With so many stores offering children’s clothing having unknown or dubious ethics, Hansen wanted to take the strain off parents searching for good-quality, planet-and-worker-friendly clothing. She also didn’t appreciate the mainstream market’s emphasis on gender.

“I was perplexed by the fact all shops were gendering kids clothing. I grew up in the 1980s and my young brother wore my clothing, and then passed it down to our younger sister. It’s a money spinner - the marketing convinces parents they need to buy a whole new wardrobe for different gendered kids.”

A seasoned online shopper, it also bothered Hansen how much plastic packaging would often accompany her deliveries. Freedom Kids has no plastic packaging and all parcels are wrapped in recycled brown paper.

Categorising what makes clothing ethical is no easy task. Hansen recognises a large number of her customers have consciously chosen Freedom Kids as an ethical alternative, and everybody has different opinions of what ethical means. She caters to their needs by offering customers the opportunity to shop by ‘values’ in the online store.

“I quickly realised that deciding on the levels of "ethicalness" is fraught. Is organic and Fairtrade and made in India better than non-organic and made in New Zealand? Is it significantly better for us to support small-scale suppliers rather than bigger businesses? I want to allow customers to make these decisions themselves.”

All brands sold through Freedom Kids are researched to ensure they reach the company’s ethical standards. Special care is taken to choose styles that are functional and durable for play, as well as being colourful and appealing to children.  

When Hansen started Freedom Kids her focus came for a feminist perspective, and she was primarily looking for ‘gender neutral’ clothing. It’s a trend she has noticed in other people too.

“I think as kids’ clothing has become increasingly gendered over the past 20 years, people are starting to question why and search for an alternative. Our best selling items are things that disrupt gender norms - such as our orange dinosaur tights and our outer space dresses.”

Launched just over two years ago, the company has grown remarkably quickly. Hansen is currently constrained by the amount of time she has, with the business and three children, but is looking for opportunities to expand the business in the coming years. At the moment her focus is giving back to the community, through partnerships with charities.

Judges’ comments from Sarah Dunn: A genuinely original idea for a retail business can be hard to come by these days. However, Freedom Kids is the real deal. Not only does it fill an actual gap in the market, it does so in a maximally socially and environmentally responsible way, and is run by a lovely family in the Wairarapa.

An honourable mention goes to Thieve.co. While its model of curating product, referring shoppers to AliExpress and clipping the ticket on each referral isn’t helpful for New Zealand’s domestic retail industry as a whole, the concept is genius. I wish I’d thought of it.



This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 756 June/July 2018

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The Retail Hotlist: Blackbird Goods is 'Best provincial retailer'

  • News
  • August 15, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
The Retail Hotlist: Blackbird Goods is 'Best provincial retailer'

Back in June, we celebrated retail's best and brightest with NZ Retail and The Register's first-ever awards: The Retail Hotlist. We've been sharing the stories behind the winners for a couple of months now. Read on for the last installment in the series: Blackbirds Goods of Napier, who won 'Best provincial retailer.'

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Cocavo expands 4,000 stores further into the US

  • News
  • August 14, 2018
  • Courtney Devereux
Cocavo expands 4,000 stores further into the US

Whangarei founded company Cocavo has recently extended into over 4,000 Walmart stores in the US. We spoke to CEO of Cocavo, Chris Nathan, about what it takes to roll out the humble New Zealand product further into international markets.

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The Retail Hotlist: 'Retail visionary' goes to GoodFor's James Denton

  • News
  • August 14, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
The Retail Hotlist: 'Retail visionary' goes to GoodFor's James Denton

We've been sharing the stories behind each winner of our awards programme, The Retail Hotlist. We're nearly at the end of the list - but first, read how James Denton from packageless grocery start-up GoodFor was named 'Retail visionary'.

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Menulog introduces people's choice to online restaurant awards

  • News
  • August 13, 2018
Menulog introduces people's choice to online restaurant awards

Technology has aimed to add convenience to all parts of life, food delivery included. As our nation's love for dining out and ordering in has meant food delivery providers have had to keep up with increasing demand. Menulog, for example, has included a new people’s choice vote in its winter Restaurant Awards.

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The Retail Hotlist: Cecilia Robinson is 'Most influential in retail'

  • News
  • August 13, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
The Retail Hotlist: Cecilia Robinson is 'Most influential in retail'

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Vote and win: Vote for our cover in the People’s Choice awards

  • News
  • August 10, 2018
  • The Register team
Vote and win: Vote for our cover in the People’s Choice awards

The NZ Retail and The Register team is excited to announce that we’re one of 12 finalists to win the Magshop People’s Choice Awards for the best magazine cover of 2018. We need your help to get to the finish line, but your support won’t go unrewarded: there’s a prize pool for voters totalling more than $3,300.

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