While many of us are used to seeing clothing resale companies such as ThredUp and Poshmark, there was one resale market that had room for disruption: baby and kids gear. Emily Hosie is a Toronto based mother and former retail executive who recognized this opportunity. After an uncomfortable meet up in a parking lot to sell her kids’ gear, Emily wanted to create an opportunity for herself and other parents to be able to resell gear on their own time and in a hassle-free environment. Just before COVID, Emily founded Rebelstork, an online marketplace to do just that. Fast forward a year later, Rebelstork now operates a warehouse out of Toronto and Vancouver and boasts Joe Mimran on the board. We sat down with Emily to learn more about her journey to grow Rebelstork into the impressive kids and baby gear resale marketplace it is today.
For people who don’t know, tell us what you do?
I am the founder of Rebelstork, North America’s first managed marketplace for overstock, open-box and quality used baby/kids gear. We give parents access to the best brands for a fraction of the retail price and we make it safe and hassle-free for parents to sell their outgrown gear because we do it for them.
Parents can take back their time and avoid awkward meetups with strangers to sell their own gear — it’s so easy: Visit our website, book a free pick-up and we’ll come to you.
Afterwards, we sanitize, quality and condition check each item before photographing and listing it on Rebelstork.com. Preloved gear is priced at fair market value using our proprietary pricing tech tool that keeps everything transparent for the seller. Listings are promoted and sellers can earn up to 80% of the resale price per item listed.
What inspired you to start Rebelstork? How did you come up with the name?
I was given a 4Moms Mamaroo swing when I had my first child, Hunter, that he just didn’t like. I wanted to sell it and purchase another item in its place so I did whatever parent does: Post gear to online marketplaces (ie. Facebook, Kijiji) but between taking photos, writing a description, haggling back and forth on pricing or getting ghosted, I was wasting time and getting frustrated — but I found a buyer.
I was with Hunter and went to resell my Mamaroo in a mall parking lot during the daytime where it was safe and I felt secure because it was a public space. Of course, I had to manage Hunter’s needs at the same time and then found myself haggling on-site with the buyer which left me feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable — and I detested it.
Can you imagine how often this happens to parents and how inconvenient it can be to buy or resell something? You are restricted to a specific time window and location that suits everyone. It’s not always going to work! To me, there was a clear need for a safe, hassle-free experience…
I knew from my previous experience in retail and product development at TJX (Winners/Homesense) and Saks Fifth Avenue that there was an opportunity to save overstock and open-box returns from landfills. And so, Rebelstork was born and has become its own circular economy. We are a sustainable operation and are now pending B Corporation certification.
How have you seen the baby gear resale space change since you started Rebelstork?
Overall, the baby gear industry is a legacy one full of inefficiencies and little innovation — but the consumer has evolved and so have their needs. Resale is the fastest-growing vertical in retail and 40% of baby gear consumers factor in the resale value of most items they purchase at the time of sale. This has doubled in the past five years.
We’ve also seen an increasing number of parents think about sustainability when making choices on what to buy and where to buy it from, and we only expect this trend to continue to grow.
What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the industry you’re in?
Follow your gut! If you have an idea that you think is great, don’t sit on it, instead, make it your passion and pursue it.
Are there any other leaders that you look up to as you grow Rebelstork? Who and why?
Because my background is rooted in fashion, I have seen many leaders and brands that take risks to bring a new product or concept to market ahead of any competitors. Many are trailblazers in sustainability — something we are also trying to accomplish within the baby gear industry.
- Stella McCartney as the first designer brand to form a partnership with the RealReal
- Patagonia for restructuring their entire operation to become a certified B Corporation, enabling the resale of their products via their vertical platform, and
- Rebecca Taylor, as one of the first vertical brands to launch rental on their platform – Rebecca Taylor RNTD.
Tell us about the process of raising capital for Rebelstork. I hear you have quite the story!
It was exciting to say the least!
First, the amount of research and preparation that goes into preparing for a raise is astronomical. In my case, I was raising capital while pregnant with Piper, and I was in my third trimester. Sure enough, four weeks early, my water broke!
I felt fine at the time, so I continued with two partner pitches while sitting on a beach towel. I ended up closing the first $2M of the $5M raise while in labour before heading to the hospital. In hindsight, it was completely insane, but it makes for a good story!
What is your mission in your career?
I really love what I do and I want Rebelstork to help families take back their time and contribute to the circular economy. Because of the way we consume, landfills are growing, which is why we work with our partners to help sell overstock and open-box.
Today, baby gear has such a short use window that buying new doesn’t always make sense and there are both economic and environmental gains when making sustainable lifestyle choices, no matter how small. I’d love to see even more conscious consumption from parents as their children grow, which is also where Rebelstork comes in.
What would you tell your teenage self, if you were to meet them today?
I would remind myself to “Be thankful for the closed doors, the bad vibes and the things that don’t work out…” These are what protects you and moves you closer to the ideas and paths that you are meant to pursue.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? What advice do you give to your “mentees”?
To MOVE THROUGH FAILURES. It’s ok to lose more in the short term in order to win in the long run, especially if you are building something that hasn’t been done well in a legacy industry.
What, if any adversities did you have to conquer, and what do you attribute your success to?
Raising capital while pregnant was very challenging: Investors saw me as a risk, which, unfortunately, is something we continue to hear about in the startup community.
I had to trust my gut again when looking for partners — it couldn’t always be about who had the funds. Making smart and strong connections with the right partners that believed in Rebelstork was the reason for our success.
Tell us a secret about your job.
I am one of Rebelstork’s VIP buyers and sellers! Before my second child, I sold all of my son’s gear on the platform and I outfitted Piper’s nursery with some great items that were listed on Rebelstork. I love walking around the warehouse every morning to explore what new arrivals will go live that day. New arrivals are listed daily, so there are always fresh deals to snag.
Full disclosure, I have bought and resold six strollers and four carriers in my kids’ lifetime.
Anything exciting coming up? Please plug a project
Of course, there are exciting things coming up! First, I am thrilled about our growth across Canada — while we ship nationwide, we are growing our fleet of REBBY pick-up vans to more and more cities every month.
Second, we are planning on launching a new tech innovation that helps parents when they’re buying or selling their gear — you’ll be hearing from us again soon.
How can we get connected? Where can we learn more about you / connect with you / your social channels?
If you’re a parent, be sure to join our growing FLOCK community!