Charities and Third Sector
Charlotte Morley is one of three SME owners to win a TV advert worth over £150,000. She explains how she’s helping to change attitudes to fashion with her kids’ clothes rental business thelittleloop.
Last updated: 17 Mar 2021 4 min read
Charlotte Morley describes thelittleloop, which she launched in April 2020, as a rotating closet for children. Put simply, the business offers rental clothing by subscription for children aged 18 months up to seven years, working with ethically minded fashion brands to help reduce the environmental impact of dressing kids.
To win the opportunity to work with top creative agency Pablo to spread her brand’s message – that with seven billion people on the planet, we need to realise we can’t always own things and we can’t just throw them away – is “priceless,” says Morley.
Before starting her own business, Morley was an intelligence officer for the security service and most recently head of digital product for Notonthehighstreet. Now that she’s been joined by co-founder Suzi Avens, who has been director of womenswear at Boden and director of product at Cath Kidston, the start-up has a winning combination of technology and innovation skills, and fashion retail experience.
“It’s so exciting to be working at the edge of innovation in the fashion industry,” says Morley. “Rental is a growing trend – we’re the only ones doing it for older children – but it’s still very early days. There’s a whole movement around ending ownership and getting people to think about their resources in a different way. We can no longer have this linear economy; we’ve got to think in circles, about sharing something so that it reaches its maximum lifespan.”
Morley says thelittleloop does things differently from most other rental companies because it partners with quality brands and they take a share of revenue. “As ethical and sustainable businesses, they can see the deep flaws in the linear economy and they want to make circularity work with their business. So, we’ve been pushing on a much more open door than we expected.”
Although the business launched to the public in April 2020, Morley says her plans weren’t entirely disrupted by Covid-19 because people still need to dress their kids.
“The challenge we’ve had with coronavirus is we’re asking people to do something quite different. Renting versus owning clothes is quite a big consumer mindset shift. What you find is that in a crisis, when people are struggling to cope with the everyday, changing behaviour is quite hard.”
Having clear brand values helps the business tell its story. When they entered the NatWest competition to win a professionally produced TV advert as well as business support such as mentoring – something Avens benefited from with Johnny Boden – Morley described thelittleloop as extraordinary because it is brave and challenging the status quo: “We’re building a business that is genuinely prepared to change the way people think and act – that’s hard,” she says. “Despite that, we know it’s the right thing to do.”
“We can no longer have this linear economy; we’ve got to think in circles, about sharing something so that it reaches its maximum lifespan” Charlotte Morley, founder, thelittleloop
Winning this competition, says Morley, will amplify their message to an extent they couldn’t dream of normally. “The opportunity to grow and spread our message is just priceless to us. We know we’ve built something that really works for parents because our customers love it and they tell us – they are amazing brand ambassadors for us. But we know we need to get the message out there and tell more people and we don’t have the budget to do that. Also, the design that Pablo has come up with is really creative and fantastic – they’re helping us articulate our business in a way we would never have been able to do. It’s just incredible.”
Morley says the business plan this year is to bring on board more brands and grow customer numbers – she wants thelittleloop to be a household name. She also hopes rental will be more ingrained as a go-to option for parents. After that, she would like the business to have branched out into more verticals: “To take this democratic access to everyday rental clothing out into womenswear, potentially, but also into things like furniture or children’s equipment. Our business is underpinned by incredible technology, so theoretically we can expand into any vertical and help bring other brands on board. We’d like to be powering the rental economy in the UK. It’s quite ambitious!”
And that’s why they’re winners.