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Up Close: In Conversation with Maisonette CEO Sylvana Ward Durrett

Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Sylvana Ward Durrett, co-founder and CEO of childrenswear shopping platform Maisonette, discusses why brands should cater to shoppers’ Covid lifestyle needs and her company’s private label move. 

Sylvana Ward Durrett Maisonette
Sylvana Ward Durrett, CEO of Maisonette Courtesy

Name: Sylvana Ward Durrett

Title: CEO

Company: Maisonette

How would you describe yourself as a consumer?

Luisana [Mendoza de Roccia] and I created Maisonette out of a personal need, because as mothers of multiples we were disappointed in the options available for our children, more specifically the lack of curated products within retailers that were needed for our kids who range in age. With that said, like the customer we serve, I am a busy parent who juggles multiple tasks at any given time and I look to shop with ease and guidance. More specifically, I am a consumer that can either engage in maintenance shopping—procuring the things that I need on a daily, weekly or monthly basis—or a special occasion shopper, where I look for specific things to serve a specific purpose, and finding a place that leans into both of my shopping habits is always a priority.

As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?

As a consumer, I am excited by new discoveries and finds. There are so many brands that catch my attention and that I would be excited to purchase from until the experience sets in. I am motivated by service and ease, both from an onsite perspective and an after-purchase perspective. You gain my loyalty when you can get those two pieces right.

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What’s your typical uniform?

Jeans, a sweater and a great pair of shoes—sandals in the summer, flats in the fall and boots in the spring.

Which fashion era is your favorite?

Definitely the ’70s

Who’s your style icon?

My mom

What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?

I’m proud of our response to the Black Lives Matter movement and our continued focus on creating a safe, internal space for BIPOC employees. From an external perspective, we’ve prioritized offering tools and resources that have assisted our community in having these important conversations with their children about eradicating racism in the next generation. Though we’ve taken these necessary next steps, there is still so much more work to be done.

How would you describe your corporate culture?

Family focused, inclusive, supportive and fun!

What can companies learn from Covid-19?

That 9 to 5 in the office and face time are ideas of the past. People can be productive from anywhere if you give them the right tools and if you have a strong company culture.

What should be the apparel and textile industry’s top priority now?

Product that consumers are wearing, using now. There has been a shift in priorities for Americans—family focused, staying and being with close friends. Products around this new post-Covid lifestyle are what is needed now. That said, we also need to be nimble and flexible—give ourselves the opportunity to shift into other categories as life slowly comes back to a semi-normal state.

What makes you most optimistic?

Our resilience as a people! People are ready to get back to life, and that gives me hope.

Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction/service:

We created Maisonette to revolutionize the children’s retail industry through creating a one-stop shopping solution for busy parents who want stylish and high-quality products at every price point. In direct response to our consumer who desired elevated, everyday essentials priced for play, we launched our in-house label, Maison Me, in the summer of 2019. Stemming from the successful launch, we’ve since debuted five seasonal collections, with bestselling styles reappearing within the collection as a result of positive feedback received from our amazing customers. More to come from Maison Me in 2021.