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Walmart Launches Exclusive, Organic Baby Apparel

Mar 21, 2024Mar 21, 2024

Walmart, building upon its family appeal, has launched an exclusive line of soft and organic baby apparel called M + A by Monica + Andy, which is selling online and rolling out to 1,100 stores.

It’s a partnership with the 10-year-old Monica + Andy brand of baby clothing and accessories made from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-certified organic cotton.

“The Monica + Andy brand is a favorite among first-time parents and experienced parents alike,” said Leslie Leonard, senior vice president of men’s, kids, baby and shoes at Walmart U.S. He said the plan enables Walmart to “expand into the organic baby apparel category with a trusted brand, at an incredible value that only Walmart can offer.”

Walmart said that the limited-edition, playful prints and mix-and-match essentials are organically sourced with fabrics free of chemical dyes and pesticides. Each fabric is wash-tested to prevent shrinking, pilling or fading.

Walmart stores offer the baby clothes in sizes from preemies to 18 months, whereas on, the range goes up to 5T. The collection features items like rompers and dresses that can be purchased individually, as well as multi-item sets or “bundles.”

Monica is Monica Royer, founder and chief executive of Monica + Andy, and Andy is her brother, Andy Dunn, a partner in the business and founder of the Bonobos men’s brand that was purchased by Walmart in 2017 for $310 million.

Royer said the partnership represents a “meaningful opportunity that allows us to reach an expanded audience through a like-minded retailer. As a mom myself, it was important to align with a brand that also puts parents first through value-added experiences and creates a community that they can lean on to learn, share and support one another.” Beyond its clothing, Monica + Andy offers virtual classes on CPR, Newborn 101 and Prenatal Yoga.

Royer, who is personally committed to an organic lifestyle, created her Chicago-based baby brand in 2014 after the birth of her daughter (now 12 years old) and spending three years as a stay-at-home mom. “I didn’t launch Monica + Andy because I have great business acumen. It was because I became a mom and saw that there were things lacking for my baby. Her skin was really sensitive. There was a bit of reaction,” to certain clothes. “Even if it was organic, it didn’t necessarily mean it was soft.”

Aside from her obvious connection to Walmart via her brother and Bonobos, Royer said she feels a connection to Walmart, largely for its presentation of organic food. She shops a Walmart Neighborhood Market store in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago where she lives.

The M + A collection for Walmart is separate from the regular Monica + Andy collection, though they share “the same pillars,” being organic, colorful and with “vibrant, fun prints,” Royer explained. “We made a new line for Walmart but didn’t compromise quality,” she said.

There is, however, “a slightly different fabric makeup,” with Walmart’s line being 100 percent cotton, while within the Monica + Andy line, some products include both organic and non-organic materials.

Also, while sizes with Monica + Andy ranges from preemie to age 12, Walmart’s has a focus on sizes for babies. M + A is being displayed in Walmart stores along the layette wall.

Walmart’s M + A line is priced consistent with the mass retailer’s everyday low pricing. “Bundles” are offered, such as a long-sleeved body suit with matching pants, priced $18; a cuddle box that includes a blanket and a hat for $20; $25 for two tops, a pant, a hat and rollover footies and mitts, and a 14-piece gift box is priced at $80. Some items sold individually are also available such as a long-sleeved, one-piece coverall for $15.

For Walmart, “We are designing and making all of the product ourselves,” said Royer. “This is not a licensing deal.”

For a small business, securing orders from Walmart for the first time is an enormous growth opportunity and one that poses new challenges, particularly revving up sourcing and production. “During COVID[-19] we fully rebuilt our supply chain. It was one of the fortuitous things we did,” said Royer. “We brought on a bigger team to build a supply chain in a way that we have the ability to scale.” That was all done before plans were set to sell Walmart, Royer said, though she added, “I always absolutely loved Walmart. As a family we are incredibly big fans.”

“We have worked with other retail partners in the past, but have never done anything of this scale,” said Royer. M + A Monica + Andy baby products are sold at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, and have in the past been sold at Nordstrom and Target. There are also two M + A by Monica + Andy stores, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and in Lincoln Park, Chicago. There is also a pop-up shop inside the Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, which is part of the Northwestern Hospital system.

Royer said the plan is to sell Walmart through 2023. “We learn from this year and see where it goes from there. We hope to meet Walmart customers just like we are meeting our online customers.”

Asked how much volume the Monica + Andy brand generates, Royer replied, “We feel very good about the growth of the business. We have managed the business to profitability.”

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