Business management

Bon tot

Kristina Currie has built her ethical children’s wear brand around a foundation of customer trust. She tells us how this has come to the fore during the current crisis.

Kristina at Bon Tot with her French bulldog, Frisco

Tell us a bit about your business

“Bon Tot is a multi-brand retailer, focusing on modern family lifestyle and transparent manufacturing. Our aim is to make it easy to shop ethically, without sacrificing style.

“We set up the business in late 2014, after the birth of our daughter Clemence in 2013. When I became pregnant I realised I was a different kind of consumer all of a sudden. I was searching and searching for items that didn’t assign my daughter a personality (ie very gender-specific clothing), that weren’t made in sweatshops and that were our style. 

“All the couples we knew were quite particular about their interiors, clothing and lifestyle but when they had kids, they sort of lost that connection with personal taste. We wanted to find products that matched our home, our values and our style. We realised these products existed, just not in our home city of Edinburgh. So we filled that gap ourselves.”

What would you say is unique about the Bon Tot brand?

“Our USP is my never-ending research! I love digging deep and going head first into a category we are looking to stock. I want to find the best product I can and that means finding a brand whose values align with ours, finding the best quality and making sure it looks cool and will last. Our customers know that if we stock it, they don’t have to question it: we do the research so they don’t have to. We create trust with our customers.”

How have you had to adapt the business in light of coronavirus?

“It’s had an impact in terms of customer demand changing, but actually that impact has been enormously positive. We immediately were inundated with orders as everyone was suddenly home with their kids all day, every day; home schooling, being a day care, never getting a break. We very quickly realised we had exactly the right products at exactly the right time. 

We are aiming to close the circle on fashion retail by eliminating waste and moving away from the idea that you must buy new for it to be exciting

“We adapted by closing the shop and turning it into a warehouse-type space for shipping. We only had two staff members (myself and one other part-timer) who could work, so we worked opposite shifts packing like crazy and moving shipping to once per week. We continued to anticipate the new needs of the consumer by being agile and quick to research and source items that were in demand – and that’s what we are still doing. We’ve decided to delay reopening the shop as we’ve discovered we don’t need to rush it; we are busier than ever and it’s working for us.”

What are you plans for the future of Bon Tot?

“My first plan is already in action: I had a goal to address price point in ethical children’s clothing – it’s a very expensive market and I knew it was excluding folks who cared about how their clothes were made but couldn’t afford it. So I launched a buy-back programme which feeds into our new second-hand marketplace called Bon Voyage. It launched just a few months ago and it’s growing like crazy. The idea is we buy back approved brands, issue credit or cash to the customer who sells them, reprice them as second-hand items and sell them on our site, just like we would with new clothing.

“I’m very proud of the programme and the response. We are aiming to close the circle on fashion retail by eliminating waste and moving away from the idea that you must buy new for it to be exciting.

“We also have plans for our own brand range of clothing and some lifestyle accessories. Those are big goals that we are chipping away at! We have a very strong vision of what we’d like to do with our business and the kind of space we’d like to fill in our industry.”

Bon Tot is a winner of the NatWest SME: SOS independent ad break competition.

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