Sylvana Ward Durrett, the former director of special projects at Vogue, had a very specific problem: She struggled to find a well-curated one-stop online shop for kids’ clothing and accessories. It was a problem she shared — and solved — with another ex-Vogue staffer, former accessories editor Luisana Mendoza de Roccia, with the launch of Maisonette this May.
The website features apparel, accessories, furniture and home decor for children (from newborns to 12-year-olds) that the two deem luxurious, but that’s not necessarily expensive. “Luxury in kids’ means something so different than it does in other industries — it’s a lot broader,” said de Roccia. “It might refer to a $12 wooden rattle that’s eco-friendly.”
Maisonette’s prices are wide-ranging; it sells toys for as little as $5 alongside dresses and cribs that are $300 and above. “People are shopping high and low for everything in their lives today, kids included,” said de Roccia. The site currently sources from 10 boutiques around the world — from Flora and Henri in Seattle, to Atsuyo et Akiko in Brooklyn — as well as 80 individual brands. Altogether, it houses 250 brands from over 15 countries. The brand declined to share sales numbers.
When it comes to their buying criteria, the founders rely largely on the tastes they honed for a collective 15 years at Vogue. “It’s about finding things that are beautiful and well-made, but also really help to solve problems in our customers’ lives,” explained Durrett.
They also aim to introduce parents to international or obscure brands that they wouldn’t experience otherwise. “We like to find brands overseas that are not in the U.S. right now, and young brands that don’t have e-commerce and are only selling through local boutiques,” said de Roccia. “You can shop a really great boutique in Paris from the comfort of your couch in Kansas,” added Durrett.
Limited-edition Vans created for Maisonette’s launch in May
While some of these boutiques do have their own e-commerce presence, a few lack the resources required to reach such a broad audience on their own, said the women. “There are so many of these boutiques and so many of these brands that are trying to get out from under the noise of the internet, and we offer them that platform,” said Durrett.
Such accessibility might be common in the online adult apparel space today, with sites like Farfetch and Shoptiques curating products from the world’s best boutiques, but it’s still a rarity in childrenswear. Although Farfetch offers a kids’ selection, it’s largely designer-based and focuses less on underground or up-and-coming brands. It also lacks the furniture and decor component that Durrett and de Roccia believe is key to providing parents with a truly one-stop shopping experience.
The Amazon effect
Shopping for their collective five children under age five often meant jumping from site to site to compare and contrast the styles, looking for items like swimwear in one place and shoes in another. “The need for a centralized shopping hub for kids was very apparent to us, and when we looked into it further, we realized that a lot of parents had this problem, as well,” said Durrett.
What they wanted was the convenience afforded to shopping other categories like groceries and women’s apparel, where sites like InstaCart and Net-a-Porter aggregate a sea of brands in numerous categories to streamline the purchasing process. Such efficiency is crucial to today’s parents, according to recent data from Cassandra’s Modern Parents Report: Today, 30 percent of parents in the U.S. take advantage of Amazon Prime, which provides perks like free two-day shipping and instant refunds on returns.
Maisonette founders Sylvana Ward Durrett and Luisana Mendoza de Roccia
This makes sense, given how often this cohort is shopping. Seventy percent of parents in the U.S. and 68 percent in the U.K. buy clothing for their children continually throughout the year, rather than shop on a seasonal basis, Cassandra found.
An editorial perspective
To round out the site, the women have also pursued an editorial strategy that features interviews with big names like Seth Meyers (for Father’s Day) and Michelle Monaghan, and themed editorial spreads around holidays including Cinco de Mayo and the first day of school. “Just as there was no one place to shop for kids, there was also no voice in the market,” explained Durrett. “There’s a great roadmap for women looking to buy things for themselves, but there’s no voice telling them what to dress their children in or buy for a certain occasion.”
It’s also in the midst of testing out their newsletter strategy, sending out between three and five each week that drive to site content or feature specific products.
A Father’s Day-themed editorial on Maisonette featuring Seth Meyers
Capitalizing on collaborations
Taking a page from successful marketplaces in the women’s space, Durrett and de Roccia are also tapping their connections to launch exclusive collaborations. Earlier this spring, they worked with Vans on a limited-edition Maisonette sneaker featuring the site’s logo that they gifted to influencers to help promote the site’s launch. More recently, they collaborated with Lingua Franca on a striped cashmere sweater exclusive to their site. “It’s really fun to get people who have never done anything with kids to do something for us,” said de Roccia. They plan to roll out a few more collaborations in the coming weeks, and hinted that some major partnerships will be announced around the holidays.
Given their background, and the white space they’re working with, Maisonette’s potential is significant. “We’re connecting this incredibly fragmented market,” said Durrett. “There are thousands and thousands of brands, and we’ve really only scratched the surface — it’s a big undertaking.