Insider Q&A: Kidbox designs its own fashions

NEW YORK — Kidbox, the online styling service for children, is growing up.

The 2-year-old company, which ships a box of seven items to customers and charges only for what they keep, will soon start including fashions it designs itself based on customer feedback. CEO Miki Racine Berardelli says Kidbox will still offer clothing from the 110 brands it works with, while the new lines will help it add more harder-to-find looks.

Kidbox's expansion comes as more online retailers seek to dress youngsters. Stitch Fix, another online styling service with 2.7 million users, is preparing to launch a children's version in time for the back-to-school season. And Amazon's try-before-you-buy Wardrobe service includes kids clothing and accessories. (New York-based Kidbox does not disclose how many customers it has.)

Racine Berardelli talked recently to The Associated Press about the competition and other ways Kidbox may expand. The questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Stitch Fix is launching a kids' version. Are you concerned?

A: I'm excited about it, because it validates our business model and it really helps us tell our story. We are in the business of children; this is our specialty and we will be the best at it.

Q: Who is Kidbox's customer, the kid or the parent?

A: Both. They open the box together. It's very much an activity that they both look forward to and wait for each other to do. Mini fashion shows take place in living rooms all over the United States.

Q: Do you reach out to kids for their opinions?

A: We have a kids board of directors that we meet with every year. We actually established a board comprised of children before we established a board comprised of adults.

Q: Have you made any changes based on their advice?

A: Yes, we added Adidas, and we recently added Levi's to our mix. It's amazing how brand savvy these children are.

Q: If they're asking for Adidas and Levi's, will they be happy with Kidbox's private-label clothing?

A: Absolutely. Kidbox is a vehicle of discovery. What we heard back from customers was that Kidbox brings brands into the household that they were never aware of.

Q: What kind of customer feedback or data are you using to design the clothing?

A: In general, a lot of the girl products in the marketplace are designed very short. We had a lot of parents saying, "I want a more conservative dress silhouette for my daughter." So some of our dresses were developed with that in mind.

Q: What else could you send in the box besides clothing?

A: We think about toys, we think about books. We're currently in talks about launching into some of those categories.

Q: Would the toys or books be shipped with the clothing?

A: Potentially. That's the beauty of running a startup, the possibilities are endless.

Q: Would you consider a physical store?

A: Yes, I have a concept in my mind: A mobile store.

Q: Like a truck?

A: Yes. Right now, I'm vision without execution. But it's somebody else's job to execute my vision.

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