Meet tween fashion designer Ariella Maizner

It’s never too soon to chase your dreams. Just ask the ten-year-old talent behind budding fashion label T H E M E.

Ari Maizner

There’s overachieving, and then there’s launching a fashion label before you hit double digits. Ariella Maizner was nine-years-old when she created T H E M E, a collection of limited-edition pieces tailored to fashion-forward tweens, and has since turned notable heads with her fresh, fancy-free designs (think sequin-embellished hoodies, star-spangled rah-rah skirts and tulle, tulle and more tulle).

“I feel so lucky to be able to meet with incredible people in the industry from fashion designers and founders like Rebecca Minkoff and Alyssa Wasko to style influencers like Lindsi Lane and the Something Navy team,” says Ariella, now 10, and recently dubbed the Youngest Female Founder of Rebecca Minkoff’s Female Founders Collective. “I feel super honored!”

Other highlights from this young New Yorker’s budding fashion career including touring the coveted closets at Condé Nast (“Which was amazing!”) and having her collection of customized tie dye tees stocked right here on The Tot. “I hope to use what I earn to produce the rest of my line,” she says. “I am so appreciative of everyone’s support and love of T H E M E.

Ariella started sewing classes when she was seven years old and took a particular liking to making things she could wear. “A lot of times I design for a special event. Like right now I’m making a dress for a wedding in London this summer,” she says. “The first piece I ever made was the Robyn Maxi. It’s a long, colorful striped flowing maxi dress. I am obsessed with it and still wear it all the time. I love it with jean jacket and belt.”

It wasn’t long before she wanted to channel her passion into a business, but with your average emerging fashion designer falling in the mid-twenties-to-thirties age bracket, did she ever pause to think she might be too young? “No, not at all,” says Ariella. “I just went for it. Actually I begged my mom for a year to launch T H E M E, and then we took photos one day last fall. The next day we made @theme_NYC on Instagram and we were in business. I think you shouldn’t wait in life. I don’t want to wait to be me!”

Her family members – including Uncle Brad, who designs tennis outfits for kids and moms– helped her get T H E M E off the ground. “Everyone has been really supportive. Even my little brother and sister help – in their own ways!” she says. “My mom is always there for me. She helps me set up meetings to learn from really amazing people in the business. She also helps me with photos shoots and my @theme_NYC and website orders. It’s fun to work with my mom. She is really supportive. But all the pieces in my collection I make I design myself.”

T H E M E is a composite of ‘The Me’, and Ariella names each of her designs after the person who inspired its creation. The Nan Shirt, a black-and-white gingham, raw-hem boxy crop (with exposed green zipper – this girl loves a color pop) is named after her Nana, an artist with classic, timeless style. The Nan Shirt is for “The (artist in) Me”, Ariella explains, while the Alyssa Pullover, inspired by DONNI designer and CEO Alyssa Waska, is for “The (future CEO in) me”.

One of Ariella’s latest designs, The Rachael Tee, is named after Rachael Russell – the founder of the Style Saves, a non-profit providing hundreds of homeless students with prom tickets, attire, clothing, shoes and accessories for their special night. “I was so honored and lucky to spend the weekend with her and learn about how she started her mission,” Ariella told her followers. “Thanks for the inspiration! I hope I can give back the way you do one day! Reach for the stars and follow your heart! The Rachael Tee is for The (heart in) me!”

On her design process, Ariella says that when inspiration strikes she runs to the sketchpad. “Then I pick out the fabric, which is so fun. After that, I measure to fit myself. I am always my fit model. From there I start pinning, cutting and then sewing. Sometimes I hand sew first before the machine. Then I go back to do finishing touches and add in an extra trims or details.” The biggest lesson she’s learnt behind the sewing machine? Fit is everything. “A few years ago, I made my dad a blazer for Father’s Day… but it ended up too small. It actually fits me amazingly,” she laughs, “and I’m obsessed with it!”

Ariella sews a couple of days a week after school, and fills the rest of her week with dance, gymnastics, friends and family. “Since it has been warm out I have been tie dying on the roof a lot. We have so many orders for my handmade tie dyes…. it’s hard to keep them in stock! But it’s really fun and a great view! Usually my entire family is up there with me and sometimes my T H E M E Girls come to hang out with me too!  But I always save time to do school work, hang with friends and family. I love sleepovers, dinners out and parties too.”

She hopes her customers feel “happy, confident and like The (best) Me they can be!” when stepping out in a T H E M E original – and to fellow young creatives with big business dreams she says: “Don’t be afraid. You learn so much and it’s so fun. But definitely ask for advice and support of others that have been there before you. People always want to help. So just ask!”