23 Feb 2021

Parents devise scheme to sell cheaper school uniforms

From First Up, 5:45 am on 23 February 2021

Like so many parents across the country, Robyn Dean has had to spend a small fortune each year buying school uniforms.

Robyn came up with the idea for 'Hand Me Round' when she saw the need for a better system whilst working at second-hand uniform stores. 

She saw parents spending thousands of dollars each year on brand new uniforms and being forced to play the TradeMe lottery whilst hundreds of good quality, wearable uniforms went to waste. 

Mridula Rajan, Lucy Chilberto, Robyn Dean and Lyn Cuthbertson, some of the team from Hand Me Round.

Mridula Rajan, Lucy Chilberto, Robyn Dean and Lyn Cuthbertson, some of the team from Hand Me Round. Photo: RNZ/ Robyn Dean

So she and four fellow parents at one large Auckland school are combining their skills to make buying second hand uniforms easier. 

With 'Hand Me Round' parents can log in online, list what they have to sell, and then deliver it to the school so it can be on-sold. The scheme also raises money for the school.

Fellow parent Jenni Hunter says parents have to buy at least 12 items of uniform including expensive blazers and that’s not counting extras like sportswear.

She says that whilst a lot of primary schools rely on community networks for trading uniforms, many secondary schools don't have these arrangements, or a second hand uniform shop,

“It’s actually really difficult for most places to run a second hand uniform exchange programme or sale on behalf programme” Jenny says, “because there’s a lot of administration involved, in just processing the garments, tracking them, making sure you know to whom they belong if you need to send money to them. Checking that the quality is what it should be, all of those different things. 

"So what we’ve done is really look through what are the steps involved in this? How can this process be simplified? How can it be automated? How can it be brought within the reach of every school and every club in New Zealand? Without having to rely on one or two super committed, super available individuals.”

Through the PTA Jenni and Robyn met Lyn Cuthbertson, who was thrilled to become part of an enterprise that would help parents and students, while also giving the school a financial boost. 

“It generates a lot of funds for the school.” Says Lyn “In the circle of life of the uniform, if you sell it on TradeMe, one person gets money one person sells it, why not include the school in that? Because it’s benefitting you personally as a person in the wider school community.”

Jeff and Lucy Chilberto are also part of the scheme and together, the five parents combined their knowledge of software, admin and IT systems to create Hand Me Round’s online platform.

“I’d like to see us rolling this out to a couple of other schools in a pilot scheme” Lyn says, “there are going to be other requirements that schools need, they may have different items, things like that that we’ve not considered. So we need to have real life feedback from other schools so we can tailor this going forward to any environment.”

The dream is big for this little team, they eventually want to see their platform rolled out to schools across the country but for now they are testing and honing their system.