About T H E M E

When Ariella Maizner was just six years old, she began sewing one of a kind pieces. In 2018, at nine years old, Ariella began tie-dying custom pieces on the roof of her Manhattan apartment. Her unique designs quickly caught the attention of hundreds of customers on Instagram, and T H E M E was born.

By designing for girls her age, Ariella has her finger on the pulse of what kids and teens are looking for. Within a few years, her sustainable, colorful designs put T H E M E on the map. By 2019, Ariella was one of NYFW’s youngest designers to present a collection. Now at thirteen years old, her work has been featured in WWD, Forbes, and Thrive Magazine. She’s collaborated with major retailers, worked with renowned artists, and learned from the best designers in the industry. T H E M E can be found in high-end boutiques across the US.

Ariella and her mom, Deborah, who manages back-end operations, sat down with Brandboom to chat about Ariella and T H E M E ’s journey, how they’ve grown their business, and the support of fellow women entrepreneurs.

How did you get started designing?

ARIELLA: The first piece I designed and sewed was a rainbow maxi dress with a belt when I was six years old. From there, I started sewing pieces to wear to special events, school, basically everywhere, and I fell in love with designing. Then, I started posting my one-of-a-kind pieces and tie-dye on Instagram. It was fun to hand-make and personalize each piece.

How would you describe the target audience you’re designing for?

ARIELLA: We’ve built a community of amazing girls and their moms. T H E M E can be for all ages, from little kids, teens, to even young adults. I always say that T H E M E is for style lovers and big dreamers. I design pieces I would love to wear for all parts of my life. I want everyone who wears them to feel comfortable and confident. I love to see how people style what I design.

DEBORAH: T H E M E is about celebrating all sides of a girl’s style. From school to hanging out, going out, playing sports, sleep away camp, parties, and sleepovers. There’s not just one look girls want to wear. Ariella designs for all parts of life.

With all of the changing trends and preferences, how do you stay true to your brand’s identity?

ARIELLA: Social media is huge, but you don’t always have to follow the trends. They change so often. I just sew samples and create patterns from my imagination. I’m also inspired by fabrics. Sometimes I’ll use vintage fabrics like vintage handkerchiefs to create a ruffle skirt or vintage lace to make a matching set.

For the past few years, T H E M E has had great success selling retail online. Recently, you’ve expanded into wholesale. How did you approach that expansion?

DEBORAH: It started with Ariella doing a lot of pop-ups and building relationships with stores as she was making tie-dye. Small boutiques are usually owned by other women entrepreneurs, so it felt like a great place for her brand to launch. She also loved to meet girls that were wearing her clothes. It is so amazing to see the moms, the store owners, and the girls' positive response to Ariella’s designs.

When it comes to retail and wholesale, the software you choose is important. What did you look for when choosing Brandboom as your wholesale platform?

DEBORAH: Brandboom is our playbook! It allows our store partners and showrooms to order from sophisticated line sheets customized for them.

I’m working off of multiple platforms, so ease of use and being intuitive are very important. It’s important that our partners find it easy to use as well. Then, there’s the connectivity. Brandboom’s Shopify integration is a huge life-saver, so I don’t have to update products in both places.

I also look at cost, customization, and support. Having a direct contact that takes the time to answer your questions is so important. Our Brandboom Account Manager was able to onboard us quickly, so we could launch right away.

Along with your own collections, T H E M E has had many successful collaborations, including a bag collection with State Bags for International Women’s Day. Can you tell me about that collaboration?

ARIELLA: I met with them at their office, showed them the collection, and the collaboration was born. We took my hand tie-dyed bandanas, scanned them as a print, and put them on the bags. The timing of the launch fit perfectly with International Women’s Day. I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with a lot of really great brands.

I've also enjoyed partnering with Terez. I upcycle Terez loungewear, and we host a Friendsgiving together every year to help give back and bring girls together. I recently launched an amazing loungewear collab with Iscream. We are launching our first capsule at the Miami Open next weekend.

DEBORAH: Ariella loves to bring people together across multiple generations of women, girls, and moms. She loves to help inspire other girls to go after their dreams, and she creates events where girls can learn from amazing female entrepreneurs. T H E M E is about celebrating and supporting others.

Speaking of which, as a multi-generational, women-led business, how has the support been from other women entrepreneurs in the industry?

DEBORAH: So many wonderful women have been supportive of Ariella and have given her great advice. It is important to seek advisors and mentorship. We are new to this. We are lucky and appreciate that many successful women have believed in Ariella. Many female designers told Ariella they also started sewing when they were young, so they can relate to her story and want to help her succeed.

What has it been like having people talk about how Ariella has inspired them?

DEBORAH: Women of all ages resonate with her journey. Ariella is genuine, nice, and really approachable, so it’s easy for people to talk to her. I’m so proud of her, it’s really fun. It doesn’t feel like work!

ARIELLA: It’s been really fun to see my pieces in stores, as well as the content stores make with them. It’s amazing to see other people wearing the clothes and the stores selling out so quickly too! Many young girls have sent me messages that T H E M E has inspired them to start their own businesses, which is amazing.

Looking ahead, what’s next for T H E M E?

ARIELLA: Right now, I’m designing the Spring/Summer 2024 collection and planning for upcoming shows, which is very exciting! We’ve also got new fall and holiday collections coming up soon and some very cool collabs.

To learn more about T H E M E, visit theme-nyc.com or @theme_nyc on Instagram.