Suk Yee Gong had her first taste of motherhood two years ago.
After giving birth to her firstborn son in 2019, she and her husband realised how quickly babies outgrow their clothes.
“We were spending quite a bit of time and money to source suitable clothes for him. It was also very frustrating to need to organise his wardrobe every few weeks and to find space to store those outgrown clothes,” lamented the 33-year-old.
“The last resort for us was to try recycling them as we felt that it was the most sustainable thing to do. But to our horror, we discovered less than one per cent of clothing is actually recycled.”
At that time, Suk Yee was also trying out a fashion subscription service for herself and wanted to find a similar option for baby clothes, but couldn’t find any.
So that was why she and her husband started up Bambino as a new, convenient and sustainable way for parents to get baby clothes.
“Think of us as a revolving wardrobe that sends you a set of new baby clothes every month,” its website reads.
Save Time, Money And The Environment
Suk Yee jumped into the entrepreneurial world with zero business experience. She is an artificial intelligence (AI) engineer by training, but a large part of her career was in the education sector. She was a full-time teacher for five years, and later switched to teach children coding.
Despite no prior experience, Suk Yee — who is now a mother of two — is confident that the business will take off because it helps to solve various pain points for other parents like herself.
First and foremost, Bambino’s subscription service offers convenience. Parents no longer need to spend time shopping or sourcing for baby clothes, and to sort or store them away after the baby outgrows them.
Secondly, Bambino helps to save money for parents. Baby clothes are expensive, but babies are only able to wear them for a short period of time, especially during the first two years. Bambino serves as an affordable option to get baby clothes — for S$25 a month, you can get 10 pieces of essential baby clothes in a Bambino box.
Lastly, Bambino helps to save the environment by reusing clothes. As parents themselves, they hate to see sets of perfectly good clothes that their baby has outgrown in two months end up in the landfill.
“Fashion production is a larger carbon dioxide emitter than maritime and airlines combined! (Our) clothes are reused for as long as possible, stretching the lifetime of baby clothes. This will directly reduce textile wastes and is more friendly to our environment,” explained Suk Yee.
While most parents tend to reuse baby clothes by adopting the traditional practice of passing down used clothes, Suk Yee points out that it can be very hassling for both parties.
The giver must first decide who and which pieces to giveaway. If there’s no suitable receiver, the clothes will continue to be stored. The receiver will also need to go through the process of sorting, cleaning and storing pieces (larger sizes) that are not useful in the near future.
All these might not seem much, but when you are a new parent, this can be quite overwhelming. Subscribing to baby clothes essentially can be viewed as getting hand-me-downs with the peace of mind that they are cleaned and in good condition for the little one.– Suk Yee Gong, founder of Bambino
But Some Parents Still Have Gripes
As the first and only baby clothes subscription service in Singapore, Suk Yee shared that gaining initial traction among customers was quite challenging since it’s such a new concept.
To raise brand awareness, they relied heavily on social media and word-of-mouth to get their name out of there. They have also recently started a referral programme to reward its existing customers for sharing their service with family and friends.
It didn’t take very long for like-minded parents to discover us and come onboard. We saw our customer base doubled every month in the early phase.– Suk Yee Gong, founder of Bambino
According to her, a top concern that parents have when it comes to such subscription boxes is hygiene. Babies have sensitive skin, so how do they assure that their reused clothes are clean and safe for use?
Suk Yee clarified that their clothes are all washed with baby-friendly detergent that’s mild and gentle, and they make it a point to check each item of clothing to ensure that they have no stains or stench.
When it comes to clothing stains, parents are also worried that they will have to pay a lot for the damaged or stained pieces.
However, Bambino understands that babies can be messy sometimes, and accidents sometimes happen. This is why they offer free coverage for any stains or wear-and-tear.
What Goes Into A Bambino Box?
According to Suk Yee, they have invested about S$85,000 into the business.
“We’re still investing heavily to scale the operations so that we can better serve our customers. We have not broke even yet because we are constantly adding more inventories,” she added.
With regards to their inventories, Suk Yee said that they either purchase off the rack, or receive donations of baby clothes from customers.
She stressed that all donated pieces are curated and go through a stringent assessment.
The main thing that they look out for is stains. They will try their best to remove it if there’s any, but if it can’t be removed, they will not include it in the Bambino box. Any clothes that they can’t reuse will be recycled.
The overall condition must be good — they shouldn’t be out of shape, and colours should still be vibrant.
They also prefer cotton pieces, which allows your baby to stay comfortable in the hot and humid Singapore climate.
We only give out pieces that our ‘chief quality officer’ (their two-year-old) would wear.– Suk Yee Gong, founder of Bambino
She added that the clothes included in the box could be both OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and branded clothes from well-known brands. In fact, they constantly try out new brands and test them out with their customers.
While customers can’t choose the designs for now, Suk Yee said that design selections will be an upcoming feature that they are planning to introduce in the future.
To subscribe to Bambino, you can select a plan according to your baby’s age and gender on the website. If your little one is on the way, you can also let them know when is the expected delivery date.
After completing the subscription, you will have to share more details about the baby such as its date of birth, height and weight, which takes less than a minute.
“If customers have any special request, they can reach out to us via email, WhatsApp or our social media channels and we will try to accommodate them if possible.”
Suk Yee also shared that both delivery and collection is absolutely free. Bambino will collect the clothes from you when they send over the new monthly box — and the best part is, you don’t have to worry about washing before returning the pieces.
Lastly, once your baby is ready for the next size, you can let Bambino know and they will send a new set of baby clothes with the correct sizing within three to five days at no additional fees. You can then return the outgrown clothes using their pre-paid postage service.
And what happens if you change your mind and decide to cancel the subscription?
You can simply send them an email to inform them and Bambino will fully refund the month’s subscription fee and arrange for the box collection at no-cost.
Helping To Build A Sustainable World
On why the sharing economy is feasible for baby clothes, Suk Yee pointed out a perennial problem: when one has a baby, space at home becomes more limited.
“It is especially apparent in Singapore where space is limited and a small pile of clothes may soon quickly become clutter. Not forgetting baby clothes cost a lot and they grow up so quickly,” she explained.
However, she stressed that this model can only work with a lot of care and consideration going into it.
Trust is key and with technology, we can provide our customers with real-time support to build trust. With more parents’ mindset changing and wanting to do more for the environment, I am quite sure this is becoming a trend.
Our generation needs to do more for the environment so that our next generation will continue to enjoy a liveable, if not better, world.– Suk Yee Gong, founder of Bambino
To date, Bambino has helped to conserve 5.8 million cubic metres of water and 5.6 tons of carbon dioxide through extending the lifespan of baby clothes.
Moving forward, Suk Yee shared that they are looking to onboard more local brands that share the same values on sustainability.
Bambino is also planning to expand its range of product offerings to different use cases. For instance, some parents might only want night clothes, and the needs of a crawling baby will be different from a newborn.
“We’re relentlessly customer-centric and we try to make decisions by working backwards from solving what the customers need. Every business is created to serve customers, and in our case, it’s extraordinary because it’s a baby.”
Featured Image Credit: Bambino
First-time customers who are keen to try out Bambino’s baby clothes subscription service can use the code “Vulcan” to get 20 per cent off their subscription. This promo code is valid until June 30.
You can also shop Bambino gift cards from VP Label here: