clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

With Primary, Trend of Vertically Integrated E-Commerce Brands Comes to Kids' Clothes

Primary is founded by CEO Galyn Bernard and COO Christina Carbonell, who both spent several years at parent company Quidsi.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

What brands like Warby Parker and Everlane are doing for eyeglasses and adult clothing, respectively, a new startup called Primary wants to do for kids’ clothes.

With its launch today, Primary is introducing a line of simple kids’ clothing in colors that pop, all for under $25. Primary’s idea, similar to one introduced by a slew of e-commerce brands over the last few years, is that by working directly with manufacturers and cutting out wholesalers and the costs that come with them, e-commerce brands can sell quality stuff at better prices than traditional retail brands that rely on brick-and-mortar shops for distribution.

Primary is founded by CEO Galyn Bernard and COO Christina Carbonell, who both spent several years at parent company Quidsi, now owned by Amazon. Carbonell, in fact, was employee No. 3 at Quidsi. The company has raised $2.25 million in equity from Homebrew, Harrison Metal Capital and F Cubed, the investment firm focused on female founders. The startup also raised $750,000 in venture debt.

“I had no go-to brand,” said Bernard, who has five-year-old twins. “And it felt extra striking that we couldn’t shop for clothes in a similarly easy way to diapers. I want to be able to depend on a kids’ brand.”

Primary will sell basics like t-shirts, pants, leggings, hoodies and onesies in solid colors that don’t go out of style. The prices will be higher than Old Navy, but less expensive than at Gap. The founders believe that the focus on simplicity and affordability will reduce some of the things that can make e-commerce expensive, such as excess inventory and returns.

The focus on basics also means Primary doesn’t employ an expensive design and development team, as some retailers who focus on fast-fashion trends do. And the founders will lean on their Quidsi experience to focus heavily on customer service and introduce technological features that will personalize the site for parents based on their kids’ gender and age, and also make it easy to stock up on new sizes of the same clothes.

There are still significant challenges to the model and industry. While potential shoppers can randomly stumble upon a brick-and-mortar store of traditional retail brands, online shops often have to spend significant marketing dollars to get people in the front door of their e-commerce stores for the first time and keep them coming back. Also, the fact that the kids’ clothing industry is fragmented means that the opportunity comes with the challenge of convincing parents to start caring about the name on the label of a shirt soon to be splattered with paint, mud or spit-up.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.