Maisonette, founded by Sylvana Ward Durrett and Luisana Mendoza Roccia, two (beautiful) alums from Vogue, is the new (online) hot destination to buy anything KID. Everything on their site is perfectly curated and tasteful… it makes you want Sylvana and Luisana to be your new BFFs. They are certainly smart, creative, fashionable, gorgeous tastemakers, and their website offers the best of the best of children’s brands — think Net-a-porter for kids. I had the opportunity to interview them, so take a look.
How did you come up with the idea for an e-commerce kids site? What was the inspiration?
Sylvana: Our own firsthand frustration in trying to shop online for our kids let us to start Maisonette. We were both shocked at how limited the options were when it comes to online children’s retail. The only kinds of product readily available were either low-quality mass or expensive special occasion wear from department stores. There was little to no product in between that offered good quality and design. We knew we wanted product that was well-designed and cool, and that other parents must feel the same way.
Luisana: Shopping online for your children usually required having 20 windows open and usually resulted in me abandoning my cart in frustration. It made no sense to us that shopping online for children should be so uniquely difficult.
How has your background in fashion (Vogue) affected your approach?
Luisana: At Vogue we learned the importance of supporting the fashion industry. It’s important to us that Maisonette help retailers and brands as well as provide consumers with a new service. The company’s model benefits special independent boutiques and brands, who otherwise did not have the scale or capacity to connect with consumers online who want their product.
Sylvana: My experience at Vogue has been immensely helpful in building this business. The work ethic instilled is the most important skill I took from my experience there- we were working with people at the top of their fields who take such pride in their work, who don’t stop until things are done right, and you absolutely need that mentality when starting a business. There are obviously the aesthetic standards that you acquire while at Vogue as well, and that is something that was incredibly important to the look and feel of Maisonette. We wanted to create a brand that is elegant and beautiful but that doesn’t take itself too seriously – after all we are a kids’ site!
Any there any plans for a brick and mortar store?
Sylvana: We were founded as an e-commerce destination and plan to focus on this channel for the foreseeable future.
You have an amazing mix of up and coming and well known brands. Where do you find your vendors?
Luisana; It’s through a mix of brands we have come to know and love over the past few years of shopping for our kids in all corners of the world, as well as some of our favorite retail stores. We are always on the look out for unique products and brands that will be as beautiful as they are functional.
Do your own kids still let you dress them, or do they have their own style? What are their favorite brands?
Luisana: My girls are still young enough that dressing is a combination of what they want and what I want, but I can see the older two starting to develop their own style. Sienna is the oldest loves florals and white dresses; definitely a flower child. She loves her Zuzii shoes. Lu is more adventurous and likes to mix things up. Right now she is big on different colored socks and Pom d’Api shoes. They both love their Hello Simone cat bathing suit. Lu would probably wear those socks with the bathing suit!
Sylvana: My kids are totally into it- they love when I bring them things home from the site. They tell all their friends and teachers at school! Now, they also have opinions but as long as I stay within their style and comfort parameters, they will wear what I bring them!
How do you differentiate yourselves from other kids clothing sites?
Luisana: We hope it’s through our curated edit of product, the editorial way it’s presented, and the ease of the simplified checkout process.
Sylvana: We really are unique in the children’s marketplace because everything is either designer mono brand which is hard to find, or mass produced department store product, which is not always the best quality. Maisonette is truly filling a gap in the market.
What are your current top products on your site (and why)?
Backpack: I find I use this backpack as much as my girls. It’s a great way to transition out of a diaper bag. They love to carry their things, I get to throw in a diaper and wipes and we are set to go!
Playtable: It’s is must for the house. They love eating at it as a special treat, it’s easy to wipe down, and so cute you don’t mind having it around.
Dress: I love Los Encajeros! It is the type of discovery and product that inspired us to start this company. They are based in Bilbao, Spain and have been making the most delicate and beautiful children’s clothes since the 1880’s. They have created a special collection for us, each piece is custom made. It’s the type of piece your daughter will save for their own daughters.
Syl: These are some of my favorite brands and products on the site right now – I can’t seem to get enough!
For my daughter Grace:
For my third child, due any day now!
For my son Henry:
You sell everything kid on your site — clothing, decor, toys, and even furniture. Have certain categories been harder/easier to work on?
Luisana: It’s all been both challenging and rewarding. Of course, clothing is easier just from a logistical POV- you dont have to worry about large scale packing & shipping the way you do with decor, but that’s why we are so lucky to work with some of the world’s best boutiques who have the ability and know-how to work within different categories and deliver to the Maisonette customer the best that there is out there.
As a new site, what has been the biggest surprise as you prepared and launched?
Luisana: As intense as launching a new company is, it has been so rewarding. I love speaking to boutiques that tell us how much this new source of sales means for them. I love seeing the great team we have built internally who believe in the company, they are all so great at what they do and have fun doing it!
Thank you, Sylvana and Luisana. I am already a huge fan and can’t wait to not only buy my kid’s clothes from your store, but also to follow your journey as curators and tastemakers!