The Evolution of Rebelstork with Emily Hosie

The Evolution of Rebelstork with Emily Hosie

In our insightful chat with Emily Hosie, Founder and CEO of Rebelstork, we journeyed through the brand’s transformative four years. From its initial concept to establishing a significant North American footprint, Emily reflected on the challenges and triumphs. A key highlight was earning the B-Corporation status, underscoring Rebelstork’s dedication to societal and environmental welfare. Emily shared pivotal moments from her quest to secure investors and how Rebelstork’s innovative AI tool is revolutionizing affordability and sustainability in parenting. With honors like being named among Canada’s Most Impactful Companies and a finalist in the Veuve Cliquot Bold Women awards, Emily delved into aligning accolades with sustainability and her eco-conscious aspirations. She also unveiled some unexpected learnings from her entrepreneurial journey and imparted wisdom for budding women entrepreneurs aiming to make their mark.

Rebelstork is founded and led by millennial mom, Emily Hosie, who has a track record of effecting industry-shifting growth and success in the retail space. She began her career as the Women’s Trend Buyer at Holt Renfrew and moved on to become the Senior Buyer in Women’s Contemporary at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC. While there, the opportunity to learn the Off-Price business model presented itself and Emily played a very prominent role in the growth of Saks Off Fifth across North America and online. She held multiple progressive roles, including Vice President/DMM of Women’s Contemporary, as well as Vice President/DMM of Ladies Product Development. After six years, Emily moved back to her home city of Toronto to join the Canadian Division of the TJX Companies (Winners, Marshalls, Homesense), where she served as a Vice President of Merchandising.

After becoming a mother herself, Emily recognized a huge void in a baby retail market ripe for innovation, and an industry in need of reengineering. She envisioned a hassle-free way to buy and sell baby gear from the most valuable perspective in the room – a new mom.  She set out on a mission to create the solution she was looking for herself. In just four short years, Emily has brought her vision to life of helping families, brands and retailers alike participate in the e-commerce economy safely, easily, and transparently — keeping quality gear out of landfills and instead in the homes of conscious consumers.  To date, Rebelstork has saved over 180,000 pieces of baby gear from ending up in landfill.

From the spark of its conception to becoming a major player in North America, how has the narrative of Rebelstork’s evolution unfolded over the past four years?

Rebelstork was built to disrupt the last standing legacy consumer retail industry- baby gear.

I believe in premium value for all parents. We are born to make Parenting Lighter™ across everything we do. At the heart of it all, we are a company of parents supporting parents, forever bonded by the hardest and most rewarding work in the world. As a millennial mom of two, I created Rebelstork with the belief that the best baby gear can be attained at the best value so you and yours can live your best lives. To ensure premium value for all parents, I built a recommence market that connects brands and retailers with parents across North America.  As part of this commitment, we developed REV™, the baby gear industry’s first and only AI-powered recommerce estimated value technology REV™. Through our tool parents can see the estimated resale value of a product before purchase, creating even greater value for them.

We are a one-stop tech-driven marketplace for shopping overstock, open box, and gently used baby gear, empowering moms, dads, and caregivers to make more educated and responsible purchases while encouraging brands and retailers to divert overstocks and returns from landfills.

Through our RAAS (Resale As A Service) returns recommerce partnership program The ReLuvable™ we provide brands and retailers the technology and selling platform to participate in the recommerce economy.  This is extremely helpful for smaller brands who don’t have the resources to manage their returns process.  In addition, the partnership introduces an entirely new group of consumers to the brands that they might not otherwise have had.  Together we bring returns and excess stock back to life and it’s a win/win for everyone!

Earning B-Corporation status speaks volumes about a company’s commitment to societal and environmental responsibilities. Which obstacles and realizations marked this journey for Rebelstork, and what significance does this status hold for your brand?

As a Certified BCorp, we are empowering parents, brands, and retailers to participate in the e-commerce economy and help build a more sustainable world for the next generation.  I knew that achieving this highest standard of sustainability combined with launching a business that balances purpose and profit was a must-have for Rebelstork.  When parents buy from Rebelstork, they are fueling a force for good and putting people and the environment first.  We think of this certification as more than a mark, it’s making our mark on the world. 

The road to securing investors is rarely without its challenges. What were the defining moments in this journey that shaped the direction of Rebelstork?

Fundraising for every founder is very challenging but, unfortunately as a female (and mother), it is more complicated.  We talk about the strides being made to support female founders, but the reality is still lopsided and bleak.  In 2023, companies founded solely by women garnered just 2% of the total capital invested in VC-backed startups in the United States. Rebelstork is part of this 2% but the funding ecosystem remains very far from bracing gender equity. 

I completed the final partner pitch that ended up leading one of my first raises while I was in labor. The perception that women can’t manage their personal and professional lives the same way our male counterparts can is false, and I will continue challenging that.

While fundraising is never simple, over the last four years our team has built a strong and growing business and our ability to raise capital has evolved into a different experience than in the early days.

Rebelstork’s introduction of a proprietary AI tool for resale value assessment signifies a step forward in tech integration. In what ways do you foresee technology amplifying the mission of making parenting more affordable and sustainable?

REV™ has been the data-driven powerhouse technology fueling our platform since we launched.  We officially launched REV™ as a tool to empower new and expecting parents to make more educated purchasing decisions as they start to plan for this major life event.  It’s the first and only AI-Powered recommerce pricing technology in the baby gear industry.  With over 90,000 searches on REV™ last year, she has become the market maker for this industry, the pricing authority in the re-commerce baby gear market, and we only see this growing.  With the state of the world today, parents expect and want more, and REV™ and Rebelstork are here for them, providing a tool that can guide the best purchase decision for them.

The accolades of being one of Canada’s Most Impactful Companies and a finalist in the Veuve Cliquot Bold Women awards are indeed noteworthy. How do these recognitions align with Rebelstork’s vision for sustainability and your personal goals for a more eco-conscious future?

Venture Capital backed women entrepreneurs are still such a minority that being nominated for the Veuve Cliquot Bold Women award was such an honor for me and a pleasure to celebrate being one amongst my peers.  This award was more about empowering women than it was about championing sustainability.  Having Rebelstork named one of Canada’s Most Impactful Companies was a proud moment and a reminder that the work we are doing matters for families today and in the future.

Starting a business encompasses a variety of aspects, from ideation to execution. Which facets of building Rebelstork did you find most surprising or enlightening, and how did they influence your approach?

The surprises and enlightening are all day every day with Rebelstork!  Every day is full of surprises and enlightening moments. The biggest so far is the white space, creating a new way of working in a legacy consumer retail industry.  Introducing our concept to brands, retailers, and parents across North America has offered me learning and has been rewarding. The more I’ve come to understand the returns processes across the industry the more deeply I’ve recognized the opportunity and the need for commerce in this space. Our business is continually evolving and with every new milestone we achieve as a business, our core commitment remains the same – we must keep baby gear from ending up in landfill.  To date, we have saved 180,000+ pieces and we are just getting started.

We are also constantly inspired by our community of parents.  They enlighten our team every day with their DMs, emails, and feedback.  We learn from their experiences and are empowered by their support.

What piece of advice would you like to share with aspiring women to help them succeed in the business industry?

I always wanted to start my own business and from an early age, I became obsessed with the retail industry.  However, I knew that to be successful I would need to fill my toolbox full of knowledge and become an expert across different verticals and channels in the industry.  I made a tight list of the companies I wanted to work for and the leaders I wanted to learn from.  I networked and surrounded myself with mentors who were true visionaries.

Eventually, my mind shift changed. I stopped thinking “I am so lucky to work for X company” and I began thinking “X company is so lucky to have me working for them”.  It was at that time I knew I was ready to start my own company.  

I always say “be thankful for the closed doors, bad vibes, and stuff that falls apart. It’ll protect you from things not meant for you” and I truly believe that. 

Remain laser-focused on your path, and it is remarkable what can be achieved. If you are distracted by counting other people’s sprinkles…. your ice cream will melt!

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