'women to watch' female founder interview:
ariella maizner: founder of theme
if you have instagram and love inspiring young entrepreneur stories + a splash of tie dye, chances are ariella maizner, designer and founder of theme is already on your list of women to watch. she started sewing when she was 7 years old [same] and 3 years later has become our favorite youngest designer ever. each piece is designed + hand-made by ari, and is inspired by another female founder.
at just 10 years old, ari already has a lot to teach us about taking something you love doing and turning it into a booming business. read her story + how she’s grown her business in new york city below!
you started your company when you were 9 (!!!). talk to us about how you got started and how you grew theme to what it is today.
i started sewing when i was 7. and loved making things that i would want to wear. especially for special events. then my friends started asking me to make them pieces too. i fell in love with it and begged my mom to launch my own brand when i was 8. we used to stay up late coming up with logos! then we started posting on instagram and people loved what i made and were really supportive of me.
what was your first piece?
the robyn maxi was my first dress. it’s a candy color striped maxi dress with a purple belt. i still love it. i named it after @byrobynblair. she was the first founder that sat down with me and gave me amazing advice. i love asking her for advice still.
a big part of growing theme has been your ability to put yourself out there and network. talk to us about different inspiring people you’ve met and how they’ve impacted theme.
of course…you both have been such amazing supporters of me and theme! thank you for being there for me since the very beginning! and helping me present theme in such a perfect box!! it made a major impact.
really everyone i’ve met with are all incredible people. i am really really lucky to learn from them. everyone has really been so kind and given me different ideas and smart advice. i feel lucky to have met with founders, Ceo’s, influencers and the most supportive group of women. i’m so blown away.
also amazing companies have been super supportive of me too. I partnered with @thetot for my first wholesale deal and just did a collaboration with @statebags. their founders have been so amazing. i’ve also done pop-ups with cool stores like love shack fancy, ever after and lester’s.
i’ve learned a lot about production and fashion from so many people who have done it before, and even got my own wework office and showroom! i’m also super lucky to have the support of the team at rent the runway and excited to now be on jetblack! both big time innovators in the fashion industry which makes me want to come up with new ideas too!
you started sewing when you were 6 for fun. how did you decide to turn it into a business?
i just had this idea for making a brand! i wanted to call it theme from the start. i used to always ask my mom what the theme of the parties that we were going to was so i knew what type of dress i should make. once i had a name. i had a vision.
what’s been the most challenging part about taking something from ‘for fun’ to a real business?
it’s hard work. but it’s also what i love to do. so it makes it worth it. and i’ve met so many amazing people. my mom always asks me are you sure you want to keep doing this and i always say yes.
you originally started theme as a collection of signature pieces, each completely different and inspired by a #girlboss. you now are focused on a collection of custom tie dye tees, barrettes and headbands. talk to us about how you balance growing the new tie-dye line while not losing focus on your original hand-made designs.
i am still making my one of a kind pieces. and very focused on that and making them for more people to wear too! i am working on something exciting for holiday! the tie dye just took off and it was something i could make without having to go into mass production. and i could still make it myself…which i liked. i love seeing it on so many people and how happy they are in it.
what’s it like being only 10 and running a business? how do you manage your time with school, theme, and being a kid?
i have a lot of support from my family. i really focus on the design and learning. i get to go to cool events and meet amazing people. otherwise my days are normal and filled with things i always do. like camp in the summer. the beach and family vacations. and then back to school with after school activities and hanging with friends.
what advice would you give to other young aspiring entrepreneurs?
if your serious about something….go for it. but get advice along the way and learn from people. it’s ok to make mistakes. and you may hear no but it’s ok follow your dream.
we first met because you messaged us on instagram, and you’re always such an incredible networker. talk to us about building your confidence as a young entrepreneur. how has building your network helped you with theme?
i am lucky to have a lot of supporters and people who love what i am creating and building. i am learning along the way from them. it’s really cool.
our signature question… how’d you choose ‘theme’ for the name?
i knew i wanted to call it theme from the beginning, but since i launched i realized theme has the words the me in it. and that is really powerful. i hope that all the girls that wear theme can be the best me they want to be.
*flashbacks to what we were all doing at 10 years old*
*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of ariella maizner and theme
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real
all images are property of respective companies