The Story Exchange, Gabby Fludd, Gumdrop Swap KIds & Maternity BoutiqueYour Name: Gabby Fludd

Business Name: Gumdrop Swap Kids & Maternity Boutique, a service to sell or swap maternity and kids clothing, gear, and toys

Type of Business: Children’s Goods & Services/Clothing & Accessories

Business Location: Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States

Twitter   @gumdropswap

Reason for starting
I became a mom in 2008 and quickly realized how expensive it was to be a parent. Buying retail for my growing daughter was costly and wasteful. I asked other parents what they did with the things their kids outgrew and learned there weren’t many options other than consigning or donating them. More appalling was that many parents were so busy or frustrated that they even threw away things still in great condition! Knowing that these items were rotting in landfills when they could have been appreciated again was very upsetting. I was laid off from my corporate job in 2009. I was then faced with needing things for my child with no income. That’s when I got the idea to open a swap shop for parents. The idea was that parents could trade in what they couldn’t use anymore for something they needed for a small fee. That led to what Gumdrop Swap is now: a thrift boutique for maternity and kids clothing, shoes, toys, gear and furniture. Parents can get great deals on pre-loved items and swappers are rewarded with an additional discount of 40%-60% OFF their purchases for bringing their unwanted items. It’s a huge recycled closet for the community!

How do you define success?
Success is achieving a goal. When I came up with the concept of Gumdrop Swap years ago, I was just solving a problem. Then I learned many other parents were just as frustrated as I was. My goal was to provide a service and be a resource to parents like myself. I never enjoyed the politics involved when I worked in a corporate setting. I don’t make as much money as I did when I worked for someone else but I prefer the freedom of making my own decisions and the satisfaction of knowing I’m impacting my community in a positive way. I sleep much better these days because I enjoy going to work.

Biggest Success
My biggest success was winning one of 5 Eileen Fisher Women in Business Grants in 2012. I was selected from over 1600 applicants. The grant is awarded to 100% women-owned businesses that combine the principles of social consciousness, sustainability, and innovation to create new businesses or invigorate existing ones. I was truly honored!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Financing the business has been a challenge. I have always operated on a shoestring budget. I am in my 4th year of business and have not taken a loan yet. I reinvest in my business as I grow. But it was difficult to get the word out without a marketing budget. I spent a lot of hours blogging and using social networks to reach out to mom bloggers and potential customers. Exceptional customer service was a priority because I knew that word of mouth referrals would prove invaluable.