When they became mothers, MacKenzie Litster and Jenna McDowell were struck by the lack of children’s consignment in Whitehorse for their quickly growing babies.
Both avid thrifters and environmentalists, they perused the ample second-hand options elsewhere in Canada. They wondered why Whitehorse, with its bustling buy-and-sell scene, didn’t have an equivalent. So, they started their own.
“It sprouted very organically and then evolved … like, if it’s not here, maybe we could do it,” McDowell told the News on May 18.
With both women on parental leave, they had shared time to develop the idea. The result was Little Sapling Consignment, which launched in March as an Instagram-based second-hand marketplace.
Yukoners can sign up to become consignors with Little Sapling using an online form posted to the website. Then, consignors can RSVP to the regularly scheduled clothing drop-offs. Litster and McDowell then sort through the clothing, price the items and post them for sale on the Little Sapling Instagram page.
When clothing sells, consignors receive 40 per cent of the sales. Fifty-five per cent goes to the business, and five per cent is donated.
Little Sapling also provides subsidized shipping to communities outside Whitehorse, so that Yukon’s communities can access the shop.
McDowell says support in their first two months has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Right off the hop, we had to limit some of our consignment spots, because we were busy so quickly,” McDowell said.
The business already has a small group of regular customers who make purchases from every clothing drop, she continued, which has “been really great.”
The business has also been community-building for the entrepreneurs, MacKenzie added.
“It’s been really nice to meet folks as they come to pick things up — sometimes being on parental leave and being a parent can be a little bit of an isolating experience,” she said, explaining that she’s enjoyed seeing previous customers around town.
“That’s just a really lovely community experience.”
Little Sapling was launched with some steadfast philosophies: sustainability, accessibility, cultural sensitivity and community.
The business’s biggest priority is keeping clothing out of landfills, they said. They resell as many of the contributed items as they can — including clothes that are well-worn or stained. Those items are perfect for playing outside, making mud pies and art.
“We’re trying to help everyone see that there’s still life left in things … sometimes we’ll just call it ‘play condition,’” Litster said.
It proved a worthwhile strategy, as the “play clothes” at low prices have been popular and sold easily.
They also try to keep clothing prices low to make second-hand items accessible for all families amid the rising cost of living.
“Kids need a lot of things, and they’re an expense,” McDowell said. “And it feels like every time I go to the grocery store things are more and more expensive.
“So I think families, or at least my family, is actively looking for ways to reduce expenses, and kids grow so fast — sometimes items are only worn a couple of times.”
The duo also really prioritizes community, and Little Sapling has committed to donating five per cent of sales to a community group on a quarterly rotation.
This quarter, donations are being raised for the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre’s Healthy Babies Healthy Futures program, which hosts weekly gatherings and health and wellness programming for pregnant people and new mothers.
The business was born with a philanthropic mindset, they explained.
“I don’t even really remember discussing it,” McDowell said. “It was in line with our values right away.”
Philanthropy is one strategy for spending their privilege as mothers who are also able to be business owners, she continued.
“We acknowledge that it can be incredibly difficult to raise kids,” McDowell said. “It’s incredibly rewarding … but it really does take a village.
“Part of creating that village was supporting all those programs that do such important work for our families and our Yukon kids.”
Yukoners can find Little Sapling online at LittleSaplingConsignment.com or on Facebook and Instagram.