Children’s fashion is taking off, and a Brooklyn-based startup is riding right along with it. Maisonette, launched in March 2017 by two Vogue veterans, in the past two months has raised $15 million in new funding and launched its own editorial platform, Le Scoop, focused on parenting. “Maisonette has quickly become the authority in the childrenswear category,” said CEO and co-founder Sylvana Ward Durrett, in a statement marking the brand’s first birthday.
Maisonette, which Fashionista has described as “like a mash-up of Net-a-Porter, Farfetch and Moda Operandi, but for kids,” offers a curated marketplace of hundreds of brands, from the mainstream (Adidas) to the offbeat (Zip & Zoe). Unlike a conventional e-commerce retailer, Maisonette holds no inventory, instead shipping directly from its vendors. Besides apparel for kids up to age 12, the company offers toys, furniture, home decor and accessories.
The idea for Maisonette came from the experience of Durrett and her co-founder Luisana Mendoza de Roccia, both moms, in shopping for stylish clothes for their kids. While high-end fashion labels and startup boutiques have been offering a new wave of sophisticated children’s wear, finding the right stuff in a highly fragmented marketplace was a problem waiting to be solved.
The two founders knew a thing or two about fashion, having worked as executive assistants to Vogue legend Anna Wintour. Ward Durrett became the brand’s special-projects editor and ran the Met Gala, “fashion’s biggest night out,” while Mendoza de Roccia was Vogue’s accessories editor. Their new company launched with about $2.8 million in seed funding from financiers including New Enterprise Associates, an investor in such startups as Jet.com and Casper, and Thrive Capital, the venture fund founded by Josh Kushner (Jared’s brother).
Investors crowded to get into the next funding round, announced in May, which brought in another $15 million to fuel the company’s growth. “They have established a devoted following of both customers and brands alike,” said Tony Florence, general partner at New Enterprise Associates, in a statement announcing the latest funding round. “Maisonette is on its way to become the future of children’s online retail.”
The rise of high-end children’s fashion is driven by a combination of cultural factors, including the pervasiveness of streetwear and social media. “Parents enjoy dressing their children in scaled-down versions of their outfits,” explained Euromonitor International in a report on the U.S. children’s-wear market. “Mini-me fashion is largely influenced by social media and the sharing community, as parents like to take photos of mini-me styles and share with their families, friends and followers on social media platforms.” Indeed, Instagram has helped fuel the takeoff for Maisonette, which has nearly 43,000 followers on the network.
As the founders studied successful retailers, they observed that the best brands didn’t just sell clothes, they create communities. Consumer brands like Lululemon, Everlane and Yeti produce abundant amounts of high-grade editorial content to entertain and educate their customers. That’s what inspired Le Scoop, with the motto “Stress Less. Parent Better.” Le Scoop will be edited by John Brodie, former editor-in-chief of online retailer Mr Porter and senior vice president of content and strategy at J. Crew.
Articles on the new site include “How to Talk to Your Kids About the Family Separation Crisis,” in which Le Scoop’s “resident psychologist” offers advice for talking with small children about immigration policy, and “My Son, the Generalist,” in which columnist Jill Kargman concludes that “this Jill is cool with having a Jack of all trades, master of none.”
“Our mission at Maisonette is to talk to our readers about parenting, style, culture, and design in the same way we talk to our friends about this rewarding, something challenging, but ultimately fun journey that is raising a child,” Brodie told Vogue. Added Ward Durrett: “There’s a lot of content out there that is all sunshine and rainbows, and I think with Le Scoop, we are taking a very real perspective on the good, bad, and the ugly that comes with being a parent.”
The most challenging aspect of launching Maisonette? “People don’t realize the complexities of integrating with each vendor’s inventory management systems and making sure that inventory is updated. Obviously, we don’t come from a tech background,” Ward Durrett told Fashionista. “We were not only female founders in the kids’ space creating e-commerce solutions–we were creating a tech product. That was daunting.” On the other hand, the exciting part of the business is discovering out-of-the-way brands and introducing them to customers, said Ward Durrett. “We can be the king-makers of these very small brands that either haven’t been launched yet or have a very small presence.”