Truth: I am someone who has spent way too much time down the Internet rabbit hole (admittedly, looking for nursery decor or cute kids clothes in the wee hours of the night — what everyone doesn’t do that?). But, bouncing from site to site only mounded on the frustration and further exhausted this new mama who was in the early throes of motherhood yet trying to have some semblance of normalcy (i.e., online shopping).
Well, former Vogue alums and new mothers, Sylvana Ward Durrett and Luisana Mendoza, felt the same exact way. After spending a number of years together at the fashion publication and entering motherhood and noticing the hole in the kids’ retail space, the two decided it was time to switch things up and provide a convenient experience for those 3 a.m. online shoppers (ahem, raises hand). They set out to create an marketplace where mothers could find stylish yet useful toys, décor, and clothing in one place, highlighting new and storied brands and items. And, thus, Maisonette was born.
Not only did they provide a seamless and luxurious shopping site — curating the top kid brands (hello, Bobo Choses, Oeuf, and Cabbages & Kings) and shops all in one spot — but created an enriched lifestyle platform where moms could share their stories and backgrounds with shoppers — which makes sense given the founders' backgrounds in content. We caught up with Sylvana and Lusiana to get the scoop on the must-bookmark brand, how they design a kid's room, and what items are currently on their wish list.
Tell us how the idea of Maisonette came about.
LM: "Shortly after Sylvana and I became moms, we realized there was a huge gap in the children's online market. We would spend long hours late into the night on dozens of children’s clothing websites, searching for high-quality, stylish clothing for our kids — it was so frustrating. We were wasting time we could have been spending with our kids. We knew there had to be a better way, and when we realized it just wasn’t out there, we set out to create it ourselves. Maisonette is the first marketplace to exclusively aggregate high-quality, stylish children’s brands and boutiques from around the world onto one convenient online shopping destination."
What does Maisonette offer that other kid’s retail brands do not?
SD: "At its core, Maisonette is the stylish solution to one-stop-shopping for your kids. But in addition to that, there is a strong editorial component that is crucial to the brand. In the children’s sphere, there really isn’t a clear authority when it comes to how to outfit your children’s lives, whether it’s what basics should be in their closet, or what coat they need for back-to-school, or even what crib you should invest in."
LM: "Our content is an extension of who we are. By sharing ways to style different pieces, highlighting Editor’s picks, featuring inspirational influencer moms working and raising kids, we’re able to reach our customer on a deeper level. We’re building a community of like-minded parents all seeking the best for their kids. We hope to be not just the authority on kids’ fashion, but really on everything kid-related."
Tell us more about the process and how you discover the items/brands you choose to feature?
LM: "So much of what we discover comes to us through word of mouth. As we began building the company, we really relied on our network of style-conscious, savvy parents. They have been indispensable and we are so grateful to them for the continued inspiration and support they provide us."
SD: "We do our best to always put style and functionality first. We make sure to carry a wide range of price points, as we truly believe that style shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. And we do not sell anything we would not buy for our own children."
How have your backgrounds in editorial played a role or impact in the fruition of Maisonette?
SD: "Luisana and I became fast friends while working for Anna Wintour at Vogue. We were able to experience the inner-workings of the magazine from a bird’s eye perspective, learning about each department and how they worked together. It was invaluable experience, and our time at Vogue served us well as we began to dream up this business. Our strong fashion backgrounds helped us seek out the most beautiful, high quality clothing and objects, and as mothers ourselves we have been able to translate our experience into catering specifically to the growing and changing needs in a child’s early years."
LM: "We understand that our customer, much like our reader at Vogue, expects not just beautiful design, but meaningful, relevant content, which is what has led us to make the editorial component of the site so robust. Vogue also helped us understand what it takes to make a brand successful. Meticulous attention to detail, never wavering on our standards, and being true to who we are – trusting ourselves and our vision. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we learned how crucial it is to protect your brand at all costs."
What are some of your current favorite kids' brands?
SD: "The Spanish brand Bobo Choses’ spring line is amazing! It's bright and colorful, and full of energy. For boys, who can be tricky to shop for, Finger in the Nose is wonderful – I just stocked up on all sorts of Spring shorts and tees for my son Henry. State Bags is a favorite for backpacks and lunch boxes. And Minnow Swim for the cutest swimwear for both boys and girls."
LM: "I have three girls, so am always on the hunt for pretty dresses. Los Encajeros has the best handmade items from Spain – the quality is unparalleled and they are perfect for special occasions. Bebe Organic is another great line that specializes in cotton and linen separates that my girls love. Petite Plume for cute, comfortable pajamas they'll never want to take off. And finally, my girls can’t live without their kitty-shaped purses by Gaia."
What about ones specifically for the home?
SW: "We launched our first home collaboration earlier this year with The Inside — it is an exclusive capsule of children’s and adult furniture that we love. The prints are playful but also chic – and definitely should not only be relegated to the kids’ rooms! Personal favorites are anything in our Maisonette doodle print and the customizable animal headboards. I also love Snurk’s playful duvet sets – my son Henry is going to freak out when he sees the astronaut pattern!"
LM: "There are so many home décor brands to love on the site, but a new favorite is Lewis bedding. The ultra-soft organic cotton crib sheets and sheet sets are the best – cozy and stylish and perfect for kids. I will always love Fiona Walker’s whimsical animal heads, Gautier Studio’s creative shelving and storage solutions, and Schumacher’s beautiful collection of wallpapers."
How do you find balance in your home in terms of making is a kid-friendly yet stylish?
LM: "Fabric choice is crucial – use water and stain-resistant materials wherever possible, and be sure to Scotch Guard everything you can! Also invest in beautifully designed, durable furniture, and leave the experimentation for the accessories: a statement light, a great throw or patterned rug. You want the essentials to stand the test of time — accessories can be swapped out more easily."
What are some tips you can share for designing a room for a kid?
SW: "I think it’s important to choose staples that will last and that your kids can grow with. A convertible crib that they’ll use as their first bed, a pretty dresser that can double as a changing table. The brands we carry like Oeuf and Babyletto are very thoughtful about this, and they make sure their pieces are classic and multi-purpose."
LM: "I think it’s good to take risks in kid’s rooms. Invest in a great wallpaper, go bold with color, have fun! Do the things you wouldn’t necessarily have the courage to do in your own room."
How would you describe your design philosophy?
SW: "For me, good design must always have functionality and purpose. The space you inhabit has such a strong effect on your day-to-day life, so in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, it should make life easier. I tend to gravitate towards light and airy spaces, lots of color, and rooms that are pretty but also accessible — I would never design a room that is off-limits to my kids."
LM: "Good design always stands the test of time. I believe in investing in thoughtfully designed pieces to anchor your spaces, and having fun with the rest — just like you would with your wardrobe and the clothes and accessories you wear."