Shopping for kids can be tricky and limiting. People often find out about kids clothing, accessories, or toys from word of mouth. There has not been one destination that has premiere, stylish children brands until now. Maisonette is the first, online marketplace that caters exclusively to kids. The startup curate the best boutique brands from across the globe and provide parents with a one-trip stop to get high quality toys, accessories, decorations, clothing, and furniture. Their offering of products span across all price points.
AlleyWatch spoke with cofounders Sylvana Ward Durrett and Luisana Mendoza Roccia to learn more about the company’s brand mission and its latest round of funding, the total funding raised to $17.1M over two rounds for the startup founded in 2016.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
New Enterprise Associates (NEA) returned to lead Maisonette’s $15M Series A funding. Pritzker Group Venture Capital and John Fisher of Draper Fisher Jurvetson were new investors in the round, and Thrive Capital, Lizzie & Jonathan Tisch, Vivi Nevo, Andrew Rosen, and Marcus Wainwright returned to participate.
Tell us about Maisonette’s product.
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. Items span all price points across clothing, accessories, toys, furniture, and home décor for newborns through to 12 year-olds.
As mothers of young children, we were frustrated with the lack of a consolidated children’s online retail destination. We would spend long hours on dozens of children’s clothing websites, searching for high-quality, stylish clothing for our kids – we realized we were wasting time we could have spent 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. Today 90 percent of new parents are millennials who are shopping for their children in a completely different way and who value selection, quality and design when selecting products for their families. Our aim is to meet the needs of parents in the digital age.
How is Maisonette different than other e-commerce sites for kids?
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. Not only do we give our customers access and advice to the best products from around the world, we also give these companies a platform on which to grow their business, market their brand and connect to their customer in a targeted and authentic way. We are the solution for both the customer and the vendor.
What’s your business model?
Maisonette operates on a marketplace model. Rather than holding inventory we partner with the site’s brands and vendors to sell their products. This model allows the business to scale and grow quickly, while have the ability to be flexible and take risks on certain categories without it being a cost to us. It’s been a great way to learn about the market and what’s working and what’s not.
What was the funding process like?
Exhausting. It can be a full-time job and of course, you don’t have the time to make it one, because you’re busy building a running a company at the same time. But it is also great in the sense that from each and every conversation you have, you learn something. We feel incredibly lucky to have found the partners we did – that is a huge win.
Do you feel there were any additional challenges in fundraising with an all-female founding team?
Last year, only 4% of VC funding went to female-founded companies, so the disconnect is evident. Maisonette caters to a largely female audience, and it can be challenging for investors, who are mostly male, to intuitively understand this market, our customer, and her needs. That’s where it tends to get more challenging.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Balancing the grueling schedule of a raise with running your business is challenging at times – there are only so many hours in the day!
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We know our investors are really excited about the amount of opportunity in this market. We are the first and only company in this space and are filling a significant hole in the market. Plus, our vision for the future is incredibly ambitious and robust in terms of the categories we plan to build out.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are launching content in June which is super exciting given our backgrounds in editorial. We are confident we’ll become the leading voice in this market, where there has not been one. It will be a great way for our customers to connect to the brand on a deeper level, and we’re so looking forward hearing their feedback
We know they’re going to love it.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Regardless of what your capital realities are at the moment, you want to be thoughtful about how and when and where you spend your money. You want to give yourself as much runway as possible. Make every dollar count.