Social Shopping

Two women, one mission and tons of sample sales.

We launched our company The Mini Social on September 15, 2008, three days before the stock market started to crash.

From the outside, it probably looked as if we were acting out some brilliant business plan. Why else would anyone have willingly put their own money into launching a retail company during potentially the worst financial crisis in decades? The truth was that we had a “now or never” urge that compelled us to go for it, regardless of the economic climate.

Though we are in our 30s, we feel like veterans of the fashion world. One of us is a former head of production for BCBG and C&C California. The other is an original member of the Stila Cosmetics workforce who ran the company’s successful e-commerce division. But that was a lifetime ago and before our four babies were born, when long hours and working through the weekends was nothing more than an inconvenient disruption to our social calendars.

Without any outside investment, we combined our visions and limited personal funds. Then we focused our energy on what we believed to be a niche market. The Mini Social holds members-only sample sales with reductions of up to 60 percent on kids clothes, maternity wear and all things baby. It’s the stuff your children really need, basic well-made clothes, as well as those oh-so-hip jeans and that super cute beanie hat that is now practically a steal. For some people, spending $100 on a pair of jeans for their toddler still fits in with their family’s budget. However, the rest of us need to explore other ways to keep our kids looking fashion forward.

The first few months were challenging. Even with all of our experience, we had to cold call companies and sell them our idea. Without a completed Web site to show them, it was really tough. Our biggest breakthrough came when we secured a sale for the furnishings firm Nurseryworks. Finally, our concept had been validated. And after a successful sale, we were able to secure other brands, including Tea Collection, Dwell Studio and Splendid.

We are moms first, meaning we try to organize each day around parenting. Our days can be long and chaotic, but we call the shots and somehow everything gets done. If one of us has a rough night with the kids, we talk about it, take a moment to swap parenting ideas and techniques and then return to work.

We put a lot of effort into ensuring first-class customer service. Yet, our phone seldom rings in the evening because most of our customers are busy moms who, like us, are knee deep in the bedtime routine.

The two of us knew that The Mini Social Web site had to be perfect, look great and easy to navigate. You only get one shot at a sale. If people can’t determine how to purchase a product, they move on quickly. And they probably won’t come back.

Fortunately for us people are coming back, and our list of members grows daily. We are thankful that the company has survived this past year. The future is bright as we move further into the world of toys and organic clothing lines— both products that have proved to be big sellers for us in the past.

We pledge to continue our mission to challenge the corporate sector by building a successful company that embraces good honest business practices without sacrificing our personal lives and family time.