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Five Questions with Meredith Lucente of Dandelion Kids

I first learned about Dandelion Kids through Instagram. We follow some of the same local accounts and then Lilise shared that they were going to open their shop. I, in addition to some other families I know, were very excited about this new addition to Main Street in Concord. Especially with my older daughter, she won't just wear whatever I buy and wants to shop in stores and pick her own clothes. So I was super happy that we could do in a store that also stayed true to my eco-goals. Plus, Dandelion Kids is thoughtful about sizing up to 12/14, while many shops stop at smaller kids. Needless to say, we love the store! It's clean, pleasant, cute options and great prices. Read below to see how Meredith turned her idea into a reality.

1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself and Dandelion Kids. How did you become interested in starting this store? Hello! My name is Meredith Lucente and I am the owner of Dandelion. I have two boys and now that they are getting a little older, and I have some time on my hands, I decided that this would be a great time to start the shop. My passion for shopping consignment started 6 or 7 years ago and has grown ever since. I love being able to get quality items for my children without having to always buy them new. Also, when I do have to buy new, I don't mind spending money on a higher quality brand because I know that it will be able to last and I will then be able to consign it for another child to use.

The seed to open my own store was planted a few years back after looking at posts about swapping winter clothing for our children on one of my town's Facebook pages. It seemed like some had luck with matching kids and items, but I thought how awesome it would be to do that on a bigger scale. Fast-forward to now and the pieces really fell into place to open on Main St. in Concord. At Dandelion, I want to have something for everyone. We start at newborn and go up to size 12/14. There are all sorts of brands and price points here with our focus being on quality and comfortable fabric choices. We also carry books, toys and gear so you can have a bit of fun too!

2) Starting a small business is no easy task! What were some struggles you encountered along the way? Or, what was surprisingly easy? The hardest part about starting is not knowing where to start! There is no manual or how to guide on what I needed to do. Thankfully, there were some amazing consignment shops in New Hampshire who took the time to meet with me and point me in the right direction and they were there for some random questions, as well! Honestly once I got going, it was a matter of putting in the time and effort needed to make this whole thing happen. As an army of one, it all falls to you, which in some ways is good and others ways can be challenging. I made lists and lists and kept checking and re-checking on whom needed to be called, or whom needed to be paid, or whom needed more paperwork and there were many late nights after my kids were in bed problem solving. But it is so rewarding to see your ideas take shape and become a reality, and makes all that work worth it.

3) Purchasing used-clothing is a great way to support the environment. Yet, some people may be nervous about wearing secondhand clothing from people they don't know. What advice do you have? Any tips for getting out stains, repairing etc? I would say now is time to start thinking differently. We need to become accustom to reusing and repurposing items. As a child, I hated shopping secondhand because of the stigma that came with it. It's up to us to remove those stigmas. The clothing industry creates such waste with low quality and fast fashion that it is causing a lot of problems, especially in other countries. If we can buy secondhand, even a little bit, it will add up to make differences. Almost everything can be washed and sanitized, eliminating any concerns there.

Items that are slightly damaged don't have to go right in the bin either. Holes can be mended, buttons replaced and stains fought. Google provides a whole host of knowledge when it comes to sewing different stitches, or different stain fighting methods from using traditional methods to plant based/essential oil methods. Never underestimate the power of the sun either, once an items is washed, throw it outside on a rack to dry in the sun and many stains will fade that way.

4) Please tell us about your own zero-waste journey. What are some skills you have mastered and what are you still working to improve? One big change we have implemented is how we make our lunches for school. We have switched over to stasher bags which eliminates the plastic sandwich bags that only get used for those few hours before being thrown out. Luckily my kids are good about keeping their silverware and bringing them back so we don't need to use plastic utensils anymore. Reusable water bottles are a must as well, we have gotten in the habit of bringing ours everywhere and they make a fun place to place any fun stickers we might find on our journeys. For myself I have started buying makeup from a company that used glass bottles which can be recycled and they also offer refillable deodorant sticks and other refillable make-up products.

I would like to keep working on reducing our waste with food products and the plastic that it is wrapped in. We have been learning about buying in bulk and the different stores that offer these options, which we will be exploring. Shopping local for food is also part of our journey. With the price of gas going up, it seems like the best choice is to choose produce already in our area. How lucky we are to live in such a beautiful area that has so many farms!

5) Anything else you'd like to share? I do hope that Dandelion will fill the void of a much needed children's shop here in the Concord area. We look forward to being a fun place to come hang out, chat and shop.

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