Company: Maison Rogue
Subject: Aphrodite Comodromos and Loren O'Neill
Name: Aphrodite Comodromos
Title/Role: Co-Founder, CEO
Based in: NJ/NYC
Name: Loren O’Neill
Title/Role: Co-Founder, COO
Based in: NYC
Vera Wang, Rue La La, Saks, Cynthia Rowley, and Lanvin…
All veritable names within the fashion and retail space.
My acquaintance with these women started after these founders’ stints in-house and at retailers Rue La La and Saks. We met at the stomping grounds of Barneys New York, arguably regarded as one of the most credible fashion purveyors of the Western Hemisphere.
Loren and Aphrodite were both supporting women’s departments at the buying office [in jewelry and accessories], as was I [in men’s]. We along with other women in the company quickly developed a rapport, a consequence of the intense, demanding, whirlwindish mien reflective of the collective human machine that has driven forward a near 100 years of legacy.
In 2016, driven by a desire to carve a space into the retailer curve that hadn’t existed before, Loren and Aphrodite together with their cumulative retail experience founded Maison Rogue, a destination of highs and lows, emerging players and fashion stalwarts. The retailer is a welcome change to the retail space, adopting to the needs of modern millennial luxury consumers and the shifting definitions and values of luxury– no longer merely tied to traditional indicators such as heritage, rarity, and $$$$ price tags.
With creative projects done in collaboration with Man Repeller, Bobbi Brown’s The George, and more to come, I leave you with a wonderful and refreshingly honest chat with Loren and Aphrodite, the women behind Maison Rogue; we talk about their entrepreneurial journey thus far, their style preferences, and wellness:
You guys both left your corporate jobs in your twenties to take on something visionary and endeavored to create your own retailer and world for e-commerce as a red ocean business.
Describe taking the leap. What was the building process like, and how have you managed to thrive today in a sea of concept retailers?
Starting a business from scratch is a challenge in itself. In all honesty, though, it felt very natural. We were both just so in the same headspace and on the same wavelength.
We are managing the company completely on our own, that means we are managing the buying, product photography, marketing, social media, finances, order fulfillment, purchase of packaging materials etc… Juggling all of this is a challenge. We see a lot of potential for Maison Rogue being one of the only fashion and lifestyle e-commerce retailers. We want to be a one stop shop for most things you need in your life and believe this is what stands us apart from other e-retailers like Shopbop, Net-a-Porter, Revolve, FWRD etc… We are going to continue to offer a curated assortment from established and emerging designers that we have personally chosen and love at various price points and that are made with quality.
Maison Rogue has been a year into its business with a portfolio currently of about 45 brands and is rapidly growing: What are some things you’d want to share to young entrepreneurs and creatives out there looking to pave their way or wish they knew early on?
Have patience, it seems like an obvious piece of advice but is something that we have to work on everyday. We are still learning so much each and every single day – it’s important to be flexible, and to be persistent. You need to believe in yourself and promote yourself – it’s not a time to be modest and shy, which is occasionally difficult!
Who are some creatives, artists, or organizations you look up to?
APHRODITE: Jen Gotch, the co-founder of the very successful brand Ban.do. She is very transparent with the ups and downs of running a business which is the true reflection that many others don’t share.
As curators of a retail space, you’re constantly in market. Any brands you are excited about?
Yes, there are a few established and emerging brands that we are very excited about. We launched McQ Alexander McQueen clothing for spring, and Nicole Saldana shoes, which we are in love with. PRISCAVera continues to be a winning brand with a cult following.
What’s the single outfit you would wear for the rest of your life?
APHRODITE: I could wear a pair of Levi’s with either a plain Hanes X Karla t-shirt or Nirvana t-shirt and pair of heeled sandals from Alumnae. I would also need accessories from Little Liffner, Saint Laurent and Loren Stewart.
LOREN: Realistically, it would most likely be a set from Outdoor Voices. Haha. But if we’re talking fashion…a yummy sweater like this one , paired with Citizens jeans & Nikes. & my carryall from Little Liffner, which I am just obsessed with.
What’s something you hope to do this year?
APHRODITE: I would love to travel next summer to visit my family in Cyprus.
LOREN: BREAK EVEN!!!
What one thing is guaranteed to brighten up your day?
APHRODITE: Getting positive feedback from customers of Maison Rogue.
LOREN: Talking to my mom on the phone.
What does wellness mean to you?
APHRODITE: I do believe taking care of yourself both physically and mentally is important, especially as a business owner. Unfortunately for me I need to put more work and effort into this area.
LOREn: It is as much about the mind as it is about the body for me – though I’m admittedly much better at taking care of the latter usually. Fitness is a very important part of my life that helps me stay sane & centered.
Three things you are grateful for?
APHRODITE: 1. My very supportive family and friends, 2. To be able to live out my dream, and 3. Life lessons both positive and negative.
LOREN: 1.Family, 2. Friends, and 3. Bravo
Interview by Susan Im
Photos by Maison Rogue