With three children under age 7, Ashley Netzky found that shopping in boutiques isn't always as fun _ or as feasible _ as it once was, especially if it's her kids who need the new clothes.
So she tried out Mac & Mia, a premium service started by Marie Tillman that's like a Trunk Club for tykes.
Parents go to MacAndMia.com and fill out a style profile for their girl or boy, newborn to age 6. Mac & Mia curates a box of clothing and accessories based on that profile and ships it out. Parents keep what they want and return what they don't within five days, using a prepaid envelope included in the shipment. Shoppers pay only for what they keep; there's no styling fee. No long-term subscription is required; it can be a one-time order.
Tillman, who with husband Joe Shenton has five children, started the service as a solution for other busy families. Along with raising her kids, she remains active in the Pat Tillman Foundation, established after her first husband, Pat, an NFL player and Army Ranger, was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.
"I experienced loss at a relatively young age," she says on the Mac & Mia website. "I wanted to be more thoughtful in how I spent my time on the planet."
She took cues from clothing services like Trunk Club for men and Stitch Fix for women as she launched Mac & Mia. Initially she stocked newborn to size 3T. For spring she's expanding to size 6.
"It was taking something that was out there and successful in the women's and men's arena and applying it to children's," she said. "It was something that I had felt in my own life, that pain of trying to find things for your kids and that ongoing struggle to keep up with their always growing little bodies."
She started the business right after her daughter was born a little over a year ago, "naively," she said, thinking the endeavor wouldn't be as consuming as a full-time job.
"It doesn't quite work that way," said Tillman. "It has been interesting to balance it all. The thing that I love is that I definitely incorporate my kids; we've used them for photo shoots."
Tillman, who had no professional retail experience, does the buying herself, stocking a mix of everyday play clothes and special-occasion pieces. Most of the brands she buys are based in the U.S., like Go Gently Baby and Charlie Rocket out of Los Angeles and The Littles accessories out of New York, with a couple of brands from Europe.
"We're really looking for companies that manufacture responsibly with high quality," she said. "What's been fun is finding items that are a little bit different. Even on the higher side, from a price perspective, people are interested in items that are more unique."
Netzky signed up last spring and has received four shipments for her 3-year-old daughter, Arden. "My 8- and 6-year-old are boys, and if it doesn't have a swoosh or an Under Armour symbol on it, they won't wear it," Netzky said. "It's unfortunate because Mac & Mia has very cute things for boys."
That's equally true for girls, Netzky said.
"So here comes this box, and it's clothing I've never seen in stores; it's all beautiful and great quality," Netzky said. "Having this come to my home, so I don't have to deal with her in a store, is the best part. She can try it on and play with her toys while I'm changing her in and out of her outfits."
Netzky paid $40 or $50 for a pants and top by Go Gently Baby; about $100 for a hand-knit three-quarter-length sweater with a hood; and about $40 for pleather leggings that were lined.
"It was a good range of pricing based on what I'm used to shopping for, especially in terms of the quality," she said.
Not everything has fit perfectly, but when Netzky returned one sweater she loved that was a little too big, she received the smaller size just a few days later.
"It was great and convenient, and she looks super cute in the clothes. And they have accessories and shoes so you can make a whole outfit," Netzky said. "It's fun for me to have my daughter not look like everyone else."
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