As part of our series on lockdown business success stories, we hear from Charlotte Morley, founder of The Little Loop, an ethical rental service for children’s clothing.

“I’ve always wanted to create a business that would do something for the environment,” says entrepreneur Charlotte Morley. “When I had children, it became extremely obvious what that business should be. The majority of children’s clothes are in excellent condition when they grow out of them, especially if they were bought new. Passing them on and finding replacements takes time and can be inconvenient. I wanted to create a solution to that problem.”

The Little Loop is a UK wide rental service for children’s clothes. “We describe it as a shared wardrobe. What that means practically for the customers is that they pay a subscription, receive 100 credits to spend on clothes, then can swap those clothes through The Little Loop as many times as they like, for no extra cost. We enable parents to shop sustainably without compromising on convenience or cost.”

Charlotte, 40, launched the business in April 2020, during lockdown. “We’d already spent a huge amount of time obtaining agreements from our brands to take part in the pilot, and securing stock. I was concerned that if we didn’t launch then we’d have to start all over again - partnering with brands is core to what we do.”

The Little Loop uses Starling to manage its business finances. “It was easy to set up, it was flexible, it integrated with Xero, it had good reviews and there were no monthly fees,” she says. “Knowing that Starling is working hard to be a change for good in the banking industry - like their ambition to become a NetZero company - also makes us more loyal as a customer.”

A shared, sustainable wardrobe

Before becoming a mother and an entrepreneur, Charlotte worked for the online marketplace Not On The High Street as Head of Product. “My role taught me a lot about digital marketing and the importance of talking to customers,” she says. “It’s important that you’re solving something for people, not building something that will only work for you.”

Following market research with potential customers, she developed three rental tiers of children’s clothing: brand new, barely worn and well-loved. “For 100 credits, equivalent to £17.50 per month, it works out at about six brand new items, eight barely worn, or thirteen well-loved pieces.” Well-loved clothes may have a few signs of wear, which are always photographed and detailed on the website.

All clothes are sourced from ethical brands. “Every time an item rents, the clothing company receives a share of the revenue. The better the garment’s quality, the longer it will last and the more revenue the clothing company can generate.”

All clothing items are insured against damage. “We don’t want parents to worry about stains or marks to the point where the clothes hang in a wardrobe unworn. We obviously ask customers to take care of them and we find that most of the time the clothes are worn and enjoyed,” she says. All clothes are carefully checked, washed and repaired, if necessary, by The Little Loop before being sent out to another child.

So far, none of their clothing has had to be thrown out - stains can almost always be removed and if they can’t, the team embroiders a patch onto the item and moves it to the well-loved category. Clothes are posted to customers in a bespoke zip-lock envelope that adults can reuse when exchanging clothes - the first return is free, after that standard postage applies.

The Little Loop team is made up of Charlotte and one graduate employee. “I want to be an employer that allows complete flexibility, gives everyone responsibility and is entirely outcomes-driven,” she says.

The Starling app

Charlotte says, “The app itself is super intuitive. I like having the card details on there - I don’t have to find my wallet every time I make a payment. It’s also very easy to access and download statements and the categorisation of spending is really helpful - there’s nothing I can’t do.”

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