A VC-backed start-up that launched in Spring 2016, KIDBOX is the first kid’s style box to use a machine-learning algorithm to deliver a personalized selection of quality brand-name apparel. Offering clothing brands that parents know and trust at a reasonable price point, KIDBOX provides convenience, value and quality; it is also a risk-free service, since subscribers only pay for the items that they keep. Also distinct about the company is that for every KIDBOX purchased, KIDBOX will donate an outfit through a partnership with K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers — the largest non-profit dedicated to collecting and distributing new clothing to children in need in the United States — to a child in need. The new start-up is headquartered in New York with a tech and data science center based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Last month, Downtown caught up with the new CEO of KIDBOX, Miki Racine Berardelli. Miki, herself a mother, joins KIDBOX from the multi-billion dollar retailer Chico’s, where she was President of Digital Commerce, CMO and EVP. Before working with Chico’s, she served as CMO of Tory Burch, having engineered, built and led Tory Burch’s digital e-commerce business. Prior to that, Miki was the SVP of Marketing for digital and retail at Ralph Lauren. In turn, she brings two decades of experience to what is expected to become one of the most popular e-commerce subscription services out there.
Who are the people behind KIDBOX?
Miki Racine Berardelli: KIDBOX was founded in 2016 by industry veteran Haim Dabah, he is also the Founder and Managing Partner of HDS Capital, focusing on early stage technology startups. Haim has an extensive retail background so KIDBOX was a natural next step for him! He was joined by cofounders Harry S. Tawiland and Morris Dabah.
I joined as CEO this month to focus on growing the business and moving the brand forward, everything from customer acquisition, team development and company culture.
Other key players at KIDBOX include Gal Brill, who is CTO and cofounder based in Tel Aviv.
How did the opportunity to work with KIDBOX come about?
MRB: I first met Haim in the fall of 2015 and although the timing was not right then, we remained connected. I felt a strong connection to the KIDBOX brand and its purpose and kept a watchful eye on the launch of the business. I feel extremely fortunate that things worked out where I could eventually join the team.
You held multiple positions with Chico’s simultaneously. Is it a relief to “just” be CEO of KIDBOX?
MRB: I learned a lot from my time at Chico’s FAS and I am grateful for the experience. Now I am looking forward and excited to focus on a single brand, building a business from the ground up. My most memorable experiences in my career have been in entrepreneurial roles in high-growth environments.
Is this your first experience with a start-up?
MRB: Yes, this is my first experience at a start-up, though my past work experience lies in the entrepreneurial sector of previous companies. I was at Ralph Lauren when the e-commerce business was only a year old and I was able to spend five years at Tory Burch helping to grow the business into a billion-dollar brand. I’ve always enjoyed the building and growth side of business and I knew that was something I wanted to pursue in the next chapter of my career.
Did you ever work outside of the retail world?
MRB: My first position after graduating from college was in a creative marketing communications agency where I learned the “art” of marketing and branding. Then I worked for Experian, where I was an account manager focused on the “science” of marketing executing database builds, circulation, segmentation and response analysis for direct to consumer businesses. I have been on the brand side of the business ever since.
How would you describe KIDBOX to someone who hasn’t yet experienced it? What’s the subscription model like?
MRB: KIDBOX is the first style box for children delivering a personalized selection of quality brand-name apparel, significant savings and a mission to clothe children in need. As a parent, I really appreciate the convenience it provides, removing the hassle out of shopping and styling, while providing an affordable, personalized service designed for kids — sized toddler to 14 — and their unique tastes, while also enabling parents and kids to start a conversation about giving back to the community.
KIDBOX partnered with K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, the largest non-profit dedicated to collecting and distributing new clothing to children of need in the United States. For every KIDBOX purchased, KIDBOX will outfit a child in need, contributing to their goal to donate clothes to one million needy children.
It is not a traditional subscription service, families have seven days to decide if they want to keep everything in the box — average cost of $14 to $16 per item — or keep only particular items and return the rest free of charge. Additionally, the box ships on a seasonal basis as opposed to each month, which is more aligned with how parents are shopping for their children.
Prior to joining the KIDBOX team, had you ordered from a similar box service before?
MRB: I have been watching these new “disruptive” retail models that have surfaced over the past few years, and have purchased from a few, but KIDBOX was the first time I shared the experience with my boys. They have very different style preferences but both of them loved their boxes and kept every item.
Market share aside, what are some of the company’s goals?
MRB: Right now, KIDBOX is focusing on growth and moving the business forward, while keeping our philanthropic efforts to clothe one million needy children at the forefront. We will spend the next three to six months developing a three-year strategic plan and building our teams in New York and Tel Aviv.
Do all of KIDBOX’s operations take place in New York?
MRB: Our CTO and technology team are based in Tel Aviv. They develop the custom code,with a focus on advanced A.I. and machine learning algorithms that assist KIDBOX stylists in creating a unique and personalized style assortment for each child.
Do you have a favorite lunch spot near the office?
MRB: Not yet! Over the years in Manhattan, I have worked on the Upper East Side and the Chelsea / Flatiron District, but several blocks south of the KIDBOX offices. I look forward to exploring the neighborhood and establishing a list of favorites.
When not busy with your career, how do you like to spend your free time?
MRB: We are very active as a family and a bit competitive as well. Over the summer we’ve been spending time playing tennis and golf and taking bike rides together. We also have a yellow Labrador named Lou, she requires a lot of exercise and attention.
What are some of the toys that your children are fond of?
MRB: My boys are both athletes, so a large portion of their time is spent on the soccer and football fields right now. They are 13 and almost 11 years old, so we are in the “tween” years where their preferences have changed a bit from playing Legos to now mostly Xbox and apps on their smartphones. As parents, we try to limit their screen time and encourage them to be outdoors and active. We’ve also been getting into board games and playing cards as a family which has been really fun.
What’s your favorite neighborhood in Manhattan?
MRB: That is such a tough question as every neighborhood has its own personality and uniqueness. I love the beauty of the residential streets on the Upper East Side and of course Central Park. I enjoy the energy in the Flatiron, Soho and Village neighborhoods and the cool shops and restaurants. It’s been really good to see what is happening all the way downtown with more and more businesses and residents moving there and creating a buzz in the city.
Finally, Miki, any last words for the kids?
MRB: Try KIDBOX! You will love the “UNPACKING HAPPINESS” experience. While we will provide our customers with curated style through an assortment of great brands, our mission is to help begin the conversation with children on the importance of helping others in need. We will do all we can to build awareness of our cause and keep our social purpose at the forefront while delighting our customers.