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Mother of Invention

BY Michael McCarthy | September 25, 2017 | Feature Features National

DC's Luisana Mendoza de Roccia, co-founder of the new Maisonette, creates a wellspring of sartorial taste for children.

LIKE MOST INGENIOUS ideas that seemingly sprout from the ether, Maisonette was born of necessity. A few years ago, Luisana Mendoza de Roccia and her business partner, Sylvana Durrett, were busy mothers—de Roccia’s daughters are 5, 3 and 2—with little time to shop for high-end children’s clothing, accessories and furniture. “We were shocked by how difficult it was to find beautiful, stylish and fun clothing for kids,” says de Roccia, who worked as Anna Wintour’s assistant after college and then became Vogue’s accessories editor. “It’s not for a lack of product, as there are tons of great kids’ brands, both for clothes and furniture, out there. But there was no easy way to find them.” De Roccia, Maisonette’s co-founder and the new company’s chief creative officer, says the online space creates a centralized hub—125 brands and 40 stylish boutiques—for an otherwise fragmented market. Think of it as a Net-a-Porter for the playground set. Here, de Roccia discusses children’s fashion, curation and what’s next for her brand.

How do you curate?
Sylvana and I have more than 30 years combined in the fashion industry. We love beautiful design, and we have the same standards when it comes to discovering new brands and boutiques. We particularly love delivering to our customers brands that they would otherwise not have access to, like a little shop in Paris or a designer from Australia.

Who’s your typical customer?
We have a pretty big range—from parents looking for special-occasion clothing to first-time moms building their nurseries to grandparents, aunts and uncles sending gifts to the children in their lives.

You spent part of your childhood in Venezuela—do parents from other parts of world take it up a notch for dressing their children?
Parents in other parts of the world, like South America, Europe and the Middle East, tend to dress up their kids a bit more; it’s a cultural signifier. [But] my parents never had any expectation that I would not be running, falling and probably ruining my clothes as a kid in a mere few hours! And I think this is the right approach. Whether you’re dressing kids in casual clothes or a special-occasion outfit, they should always be comfortable.

Do you think fashion for kids is different in DC than other cities?
Kids, like adults, are responding to their environment, to their needs—including weather—and kids can be a reflection or extension of the parent’s style. I would say kids’ style in DC tends to be a little more traditional.

What brands are you particularly proud to showcase on your site?
I love Los Encajeros from Bilbao, Spain—making bespoke baby and kids’ pieces since 1880. I also love Cheree Berry Paper, a brand doing fun and creative lunch-box inserts, play-date cards and thank-you cards for kids. It’s everything we love: beautiful, clever and useful. Another favorite is Incy interiors. Its rose-gold crib is one of the reasons this entire venture started. It’s from a design house in Australia, and we just had to have it.

Photography Courtesy Of: