After selling clothing to retailers for 18 years, children’s apparel manufacturer Mia Bambini is going direct to the consumer. In August, the Lawrence, MA-based company relaunched its two-year-old Website, adding e-commerce capabilities. And in January, Mia Bambini plans to launch a print catalog, says founder/CEO Mia Antognoni. By selling directly to consumers, Antognoni hopes to bolster her brand and have more control over the business.
In preparation for its expansion into consumer sales, last year Mia Bambini scaled back its specialty-store business by several hundred accounts and also reduced the number of department stores to which it sells its playclothes, sleepwear, shoes, and accessories, Antognoni says. And this past May the company bought Biobottoms, a manufacturer/cataloger best known for its environmentally friendly diaper products, from Group Vetabic.
Petaluma, CA-based Biobottoms had actually gone out of business in March. Because of circulation problems, says Antognoni, several thousand Biobottoms catalogs were never mailed to the company’s best customers for two consecutive years. That led to disappointing sales — and several million dollars’ worth of inventory sitting in Biobottoms’ fulfillment center.
Mia Bambini bought Biobottoms because of its loyal customer base and its affinity with the Mia Bambini product line. “We will continue with the Biobottoms lines and enhance the category offerings,” Antognoni says. Mia Bambini has retained the Biobottoms merchants on a consulting basis as well as its inventory control analyst full-time. Mia Bambini’s new Website is integrated with the Biobottoms site, and the majority of the 1 million names scheduled to receive the Mia Bambini debut catalog are from the Biobottoms house file. In fact, the company will test some catalogs with the Biobottoms name and some with the Mia Bambini title, though at press time it had not determined the breakdowns.
Next fall, Antognoni expects to add outerwear, children’s books, and stuffed animals to the Mia Bambini product line. The company is also planning to fund a 20-acre camp in Salem, MA, for inner-city children. To support the camp, named Live, Love, Laugh, and Dream after Mia Bambini’s manufacturing/wholesale division, the company will donate 5% of its pretax income annually and hold fundraisers throughout the year.