A new online store specialising in children’s wear, California Kids, is designed “for the proud parents of the cool kids” (think General Pants in miniature). A side project for husband and wife duo Kristen and Toby Walker – Kristen is also one half of Palm Beach Collection – California Kids is about bringing a little Venice Beach culture down under, replete with playsuits, harem pants and a tiny kaftan or two.
“We really love holidaying in California and are inspired by that lifestyle,” says Kristen. “We set out to create an American-style online shop for children’s lifestyle and fashion products with an edge not seen in Australia.”
What started as a solution for two time poor parents needing to purchase clothes whenever their offspring decided to grow another inch, has become a successful venture in its own right. The online store is home to popular brands such as Vans, Kip & Co and Munster, and California Kids has begun testing their own line of original products, to a sell-out triumph.
“The brands we approached [to sell online] were all really responsive to our vision and proposal,” says Kristen. “We really did go to great lengths to grab the labels we thought complimented the California Kids brand and we now have brands approaching us wanting to come on board.”
California kids is purely an online business, what are the advantages of launching into the online space?
It’s always a risk starting a new business. One of the positives about an online store is you have less to lose than a bricks and mortar store if it doesn’t work. On the flip side, you have to work a lot harder at getting the traffic through your e-store than a bricks and mortar store. A big thing for us was creating a good site, something that is easy to navigate and enjoyable for people to use.
In launching a business from scratch, how important is it to build up a social media presence?
Social Media for us is essential. Instagram is our main channel of communication with our customers and we align ourselves with talented people we really respect. We have used a lot of contacts with my current role at Palm Beach Collection, which has been fantastic. I think a big thing with Instagram is being true to yourself. Fortunately, we have a very clear vision of what we want California Kids to be.
You work in partnership with your husband Toby. How do you balance California Kids, family and your other business?
Toby and I work really well together and we get asked all the time how we do it. I think we just complement each other with our business skills. We both share responsibility with the kids, which really works for us, and we are easy going people. Most importantly, we share the same drive and vision.