Danrie, a new e-commerce site, offers high end apparel and gifts for babies and kids.
Danrie is the newest addition to Julia Zaborowski-Casper’s family. The e-commerce site for babies and kids is the brainchild of the founder and CEO, born of frustration with finding clothes for her two children, Dorie, 6 and Jordan, 2. Products are shipped in beautiful boxes with illustrated cards that have ribbons running through them and read, “My favorite things.” It’s definitely an upscale shopping experience. There’s even same-day delivery in Manhattan. Casual Dresses
Zaborowski-Casper said returning to her old job after 5 1/2 years of staying home with her daughter wasn’t an option so she had to rethink of a way to re-enter the work space. “It was really during the pandemic when we were stuck at home. I wasn’t buying for myself and I wasn’t buying anything for my husband, but I was still buying things for my daughter because we were constantly looking for new activities and she was still outgrowing her clothes,” Zaborowski-Casper said. “I was also preparing for the arrival of my son in June of 2020.”
At the same time, three of her favorite children’s wear boutiques in Manhattan permanently closed, casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic. “They closed down because they didn’t have a sophisticated online experience where they could keep the store open when they had to close their physical doors,” she said, listing Yoya, which left the West Village and relocated to Connecticut, Les Petits Chapelais on Sullivan Street in SoHo, and Space Cadets in the Flatiron District.
“I loved shopping at Space Cadets,” she said. “It had been open for 30 years. In fact, I used to shop there with my mom when I was a kid. “Those were my three [go-tos]. If I was going to look for something special for my own daughter or a gift, those stores were places where you could go and discover new and intentionally-curated things.”
When she was thinking about how she wanted the Danrie shopping experience to look and feel, Zaborowski-Casper said she aimed to marry the experience of going to a boutique and discovering different brands that may not be available at department stores, combined with first-class customer service that you would expect from a larger store, and a great returns policy.
“I thought about all my favorite shopping sites and what they offer and what I love about them,” she said, noting that the company is named after her children, Jor-dan and Do-rie.). “One of my favorite sites offers same-day messengering service. As a mom and always needing something at the last minute, I thought if we need that for ourselves, we also need that for our kids. We’re based in New York, so currently, we’re only doing that in Manhattan as our test run.
Danrie features brands that aren't sold everywhere.
“Thinking about how I shop for myself and the level of customer experience and site experience that I’m familiar with, we should expect those same things when we’re shopping for our kids, because at the end of the day, my six year old is not on a web site ordering a dress for herself,” Zaborowski-Casper said. “So, as a grownup, I was thinking about what the grownup will be looking for when purchasing these things for the little one in their life.”
Among the 50 brands and 800 stockkeeping units that Danrie offers, a “short list” of favorites that includes Louis Louise, Esther, Plantoys, Marie-Chantal, Collégian, Minmin Copenhagen, Maison Tadaboum, Tun Tun, Paz Rodriguez, Donna Wilson, Mon Coeur, Coco Village and Djeco.
Danrie has a “small but mighty team” of eight women, Zaborowski-Casper said. That includes creative director Cody McBurnett, who set the visual tone for the e-commerce site, Liz Dickinson, VP of merchandising, and Corie McCabe, VP of marketing. But Zaborowski-Casper said finding interesting collections is a group effort with everyone from her personal assistant to the company’s intern weighing in.
Zaborowski-Casper hopes to have a full baby registry on the site in the next year to year and a half, so Danrie will offer merchandise for 0 to 10 years. “We’re leaning into brands that we love,” she said. “We have a range of prices in apparel. It’s definitely skewed to slightly more expensive. Our toys are from very affordable to a little more high end. I want everybody to come to the site and be able to find something, but for the most part, we skew more to luxury and high end. That goes into my ethos and my version of sustainability, which is fewer, nicer things, leaning away from fast fashion.”
The founder and CEO said brands on Danrie are built to last at least until a kid grows out of the garments. Then, they’re likely to be passed on to a cousin or a friend who has a baby. “Our price points are higher than an Old Navy or a Zara, but we believe in all our makers and designers and know what you're going to buy is going to last.”
Zaborowski-Casper is committed to a multi-label shopping experience, which allows consumers to mix and match brands for outfits and create “different looks that feel like your child. If you go into a single brand store they come up with a story for fall or summer and all the looks fall under that theme. You’ll see a lot of the imagery on our site, we took ourselves. We’ve had three photo shoots so far with different brands so it feels really layered and interesting as opposed to everything being designed by one person and one label.”
Girls looks, with resources mixed and matched.
Danrie’s five-year plan includes opening a brick and mortar store in Manhattan next year and a private label collection may be on the horizon. “The brands we carry are built around community and we want to grow and cultivate the Danrie community in real life,” Zaborowski-Casper said. “Our goal is to have a community space within the store where we can gather the Danrie community together for events for adults and children in meaningful ways.”
Danrie is partnering with local New York charity Room to Grow for the launch.
After New York, Zaborowski-Casper has her eye on her home town of Chicago and Los Angeles for opening stores. “I haven’t thought about the maximum number of stores, but I think the sky’s the limit. The children's market is one of the largest-growing markets as far as retail revenue share goes. The industry is doing nothing but growing as Millennials continue to have kids.”
If aesthetics are important to Zaborowski-Casper, so is work environment. “It’s really scary to step back into the work place,” she said. “I felt like you’re considered old news and things have changed. That’s why I wanted to create my own work space and my own narrative. I came from a really competitive, really intense work environment where I was working 60-plus hours a week.
Printed Tees “While you're never going to find that perfect balance, I wanted to create a workplace where we can have a good blend of being humans and parents and friends and also having a career that feels fulfilling without working yourself into the ground,” she said.