The web is booming with rental businesses, with their extensive warehouses and free shipping. For movie buffs, there’s Netflix; for fans of designer purses, there’s BagBorrowOrSteal.com; for the socially inept, there’s RentAFriend.com.
And for parents of newborns who seem to grow out of a new onesie every week, there’s Bebaroo.
For a monthly fee at Bebaroo, parents can rent baby clothes at a fraction of the cost of buying them new. Plans start at $15, and parents can select from a catalogue of new or gently used clothes, most of them designer label or special occasion pieces. When the little one outgrows the clothes, just pop them in the prepaid shipipng box and send them back.
The project is the brainchild of Allen Kim, a senior engineering and entrepreneurial student at the University of Michigan.
Hearing his cousin, who recently had a baby, complain about the cost of baby clothes gave him an idea, Kim says.
“I was thinking, ‘My goodness, there has to be smarter way for parents to clothe their kids,'” he says.
So he launched one. Teaming up with Luis Calderon, a graduate business student at the University of Michigan who is expecting his first child in the fall, Kim created Bebaroo. The project is currently a finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2010 College Entrepreneur of the Year award, which awards $5,000 as an investment to the winning idea. (Want to vote for Bebaroo? Click here!)
The business is in its pilot phase, and has about 20 parents using the service for the next few months. If the demand is there – and Kim is confident it is – Bebaroo will launch full-scale operations later this year. Kim says he has investors lined up and is currently looking for a chief buyer -ideally a mom with a merchandising background, he says.
“There’s a huge inefficiency in the market as it is now,” Kim says. “Parents spend all this money on a Polo Ralph Lauren sweater that their baby wears once and then outgrow. Those clothes end up in storage or in the trash.”
Parents can now get that dress at huge discounts – up to 75 percent – and send it back when the month is up. Polo is just one of the high-end retailers currently in Bebaroo’s catalogue. Also available: Burberry, Juicy Couture, Swarovski and Estella.
And we all know there’s nothing cuter than a baby in a blazer, especially when that blazer is plaid – and 75 percent off.