Continuing to celebrate Mother's Month, May's #JoieMuseSeries takes us to Brooklyn with Sylvana Ward Durrett, Co-Founder and CEO of online children's marketplace, Maisonette. Vogue magazine alum and mother of three, Sylvana explains how she made the jump to entrepreneurship when seeing a need for a one-stop, curated shop for children's products. Follow along as she invites us in to her beautiful home and shares more on her journey with Maisonette, motherhood, and of course, fashion.
PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU GOT YOUR START IN FASHION?
I started my career after college at Vogue Magazine, as the assistant to the Editor-In-Chief, Anna Wintour. I was at Vogue for nearly 15 years — watching and learning from Anna and all the incredibly talented people there was truly my business school. I eventually went on to be Director of Special Projects at Vogue producing the Met Gala and working on strategic partnerships. My time at Vogue and the work ethic that was instilled in me prepared me for what would come next — founding Maisonette.
CHANGING GEARS FROM WOMEN TO LITTLE ONES WAS A BIT OF AJUMP - HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT FOR MAISONETTE AND DECIDE TO MAKE THIS ENTREPRENEURIAL TRANSITION?
As the story goes, Maisonette was born out of a problem both Luisana (my Co-Founder) and I were experiencing as mothers. We are our customer. Mothers, whether you are working or not, have so little time and we found ourselves spending hours on the internet with 100 web tabs open trying to find the things we needed for our children. There was no single curated or centralized shipping destination for children's products, and we knew parents needed it, and that we needed to make it. SO, we did!
WHAT DOES A NORMAL DAY AT WORK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU, AS BOTH A CEO AND MOTHER OF THREE?
As a CEO and mother of three, remote work has really changed my schedule on a daily basis. First thing is getting the kids ready in the mornings. Sometimes after they are off to school I can exercise and get things in order for my day. Typically my day is back to back zoom calls, somewhere in there squeezing in a quick lunch and then around 5:00 pm — 5:30 pm, I switch back into Mom mode. From there it's dinner, bath, and bedtime with the kids. Then maybe a glass of wine with my husband!
HOW DO YOUR CHILDREN INSPIRE YOUR WORK? DO THEY LIKE TO GET INVOLVED?
My kids inspire my work every day. I get to see the things they want to wear, the toys they want to play with, etc. I'm constantly letting my team know what the "kids are into these days" and so we can design a collection what we know kids will enjoy, or lean into a trend I see emerging. They are my true pulse on the market.
HOW HAS YOUR BUSINESS EVOLVED/ADAPTED WITH EVERYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE LAST YEAR?
I think everyone's business has evolved and adapted during COVID. What we found is that we are a true resource for parents. Parents weren't only coming to us for special occasion items, they were coming to us for advice, for products that kept kids stuck at home for a year engaged. STEM toys, DIY, arts and crafts, anything you would need to help you get through the day with a remote child. As a dropship platform, we own no inventory and we were able to adapt very quickly to the demands of the market.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF WHAT YOU DO?
Hands down my team and being surrounded by such smart, talented, ambitious people. We feel like we are truly the first movers in this space and are excited for all the opportunities that await.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR MAISONETTE?
So much, we are busy planning for the future and wouldn't want to ruin the surprise!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE "JOIE" OF MOTHERHOOD?
The Joie of motherhood is all the ups and downs and everything in between. You couldn't have one without the other. I try in my moments of frustration and being overwhelmed to remember that.
HOW HAS BEING A MOTHER CHANGED YOU?
Being a mother has changed me in so many ways from everything I think about to how I prioritize my day. My children will always come first and they have created my dream career.
HOW WILL YOU BE CELEBRATING MOTHER'S DAY THIS YEAR?
I will be celebrating Mother's Day with my children, my sister and her children and my mother. Hopefully a massage will be included.
WHAT IS YOUR STYLE MANTRA?
Keep it simple and classic.
ANY INSIDER STYLING TIPS FOR BUSY MOMS, TRYING TO DO IT ALL?
A cross-body purse so your hands are free and always, ALWAYS have snacks readily available.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PIECE FROM THE SHOOT?
Yes! The Striped Cedar Dress — I'm wearing it right now.