Supporting female-founded businesses is a passion of Merlette’s founder Marina Cortbawi, especially when they have sustainable missions. Dora Maar, the curated resale market place, is the ultimate online destination for women who want to find the perfect piece with a story. Founder and C.E.O Lauren Wilson gave us a glimpse inside her growing business, her personal style and her views on circular fashion as the future.
Q: What inspired you to start Dora Maar?
A: I wanted to start Dora Maar because it was the way I wanted to shop! While I worked at Moda (before starting DoMa), I was always so inspired by the way their founder, Lauren Santo Domingo, curated her own wardrobe. She is such a Muse and every item she wears is with a purpose and comes with an interesting story. There are so many women who are Muses to me, both in what they wear and their point of view on fashion and culture. I thought it would be wonderful to build a platform that showcased their style and their stories. And allowed people to shop it all!
Q: What do you wish you knew about being an entrepreneur before you founded your company?
A: I am honestly glad I didn't know enough, or it might've scared me off! Being an entrepreneur is the most rewarding but the most difficult and challenging experience. I've learned more in the past three years than I ever have before. I am grateful for every single lesson, good or bad.
Q: What separates Dora Maar from other resale platforms?
A: We are built around the concept of the Muse. Dora Maar houses the best curated wardrobes in the world. I like to think of Dora Maar as an online Madison Ave or Rodeo Dr... instead of the stores you see being brand names, our Muses and their closets are the shops that populate the street. While our Muses do resell their own items, we also have made it possible for them to curate items they love from various luxury brands –– including Merlette!
Q: What makes circular fashion sustainable?
A: Keeping clothing in circulation is the most sustainable thing we can do! At Dora Maar and through our Muses, we add the provenance or the background story to each piece. The more value and human connection you can add to an item of clothing, the less likely someone will just throw it away.
Q: How do you mix past season with current season fashion?
A: The modern woman's wardrobe is no longer hindered by seasons. With so much style inspiration and access to a plethora of products, it's up to us to find our unique style, which is part of the fun! For me, I love a beautiful vintage handbag or piece of jewelry... I also love vintage coats and jackets–– you can find the most interesting fabrications and colorways. Also, they don't make evening gowns the way they used to! I always turn to vintage for special occasions.
Q: How does Merlette fit into your wardrobe?
A: Merlette is what women want to wear now! It's easy, versatile and pulled together. Living in NYC and running a business, most days I don't have a ton of energy to re-invent the outfit wheel 5 days a week, Merlette's pieces take out the guessing game where I know I'll be pulled together all day long.
Q: How would you define your style?
A: I definitely lean more classic overall, but I always like to add a twist to it. I am a huge vintage fan, so I think adding a special piece of jewelry or pairing your favorite jeans or trousers with a beautiful vintage jacket always makes your look feel unique and polished.
Q: How often do you clean out your own closet?
A: Working at Dora Maar, it's all the time! My rule is that if an entire season has passed, and I haven't worn that item all season long, it means I will never wear it again. I try to buy pieces that I know will be timeless, but we all fall prey to trying a new trend that does not stand the test of time. The next best thing to do is to allow someone else to add it to their wardrobe and make their own memories with it.