Meet 'the mini social' Mamas: Bringing Us Designer Baby Gear at Discount Prices

Michele Zipp
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dominique macpherson melinda marinack

When I was pregnant, I signed up for the mini social, a members-only shopping site for moms by moms -- Dominique MacPherson (left) and Melinda Marinack (right). It was perfect. I could shop online and get unique designer stuff for my twins at deep discounts without sorting through sample sales (and dealing with long lines and a short window to pee with the twins pressing on my bladder). They sell clothes, baby gear, bath and body products, nursery items, and even items for you, all up to 70 percent off.

Now that my twins are here, it's hard to resist the daily sales -- they even offer the clothes the celebrity babies wear (at non-celebrity prices). I'm so impressed with the women behind one of my favorite online shopping spots, and Melinda has shared some ideas for splurges and nursery must-haves, along with how the company got started -- they wanted designer clothes for their babies, but couldn't rationalize paying full price. Smart!

What inspired you to start the mini social?

After having kids, our personal wardrobes went out the window. It was all about dressing the kids! We couldn't afford the designer children's clothing we coveted and could not find them anywhere at a discount. A light bulb when off in our heads, fill a need in the marketplace and capitalize our previous career talents -- Dominique ran the Stila website and my background was apparel production. It was the perfect fit for us.

How did you grow the company?

We started the site using our personal savings and grew it slowly. We worked from home for the first year. We enlisted all our mommy friends to help and we still have a lot of moms working for us today. We understand when you have to run out of the office to pick up your sick child from school. Besides we know Moms are great multi-taskers! Everyone wears a lot of hats around here.   

A portion of your sales go to charity ...

We try and find creative ways to donate to charity as often as we can, whether it's around one of our themed weeks or physical sales. For example for Eco week on the site we donated a percentage of the proceeds to Fair Trade USA. Last year Julie Bowen hosted a local sample sale/holiday party and 100 percent of the proceeds from that event went to Baby2Baby, a non profit that supplies food and gear to needy families in the Los Angeles area. We are also participating in Super Saturday this year in the Hampton's. [All] of the proceeds from that event will be donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. We always try and focus on charities related to women or children.

dominique macpherson

Dominique with daughters Harper, 4, and Amelia, 6


What are the top three essentials for a nursery? 

Besides the crib and changing table; bookshelves, a chair, and a soft rug. You'll acquire a lot of books, plus shelves do double-duty storing and displaying toys. A comfy chair to rest and feed the baby is a must. Finally you'll spend a lot of time on the ground with baby and you'll want a soft place to sit. Make sure the rug is a nice quality and not too fuzzy, everything goes in baby's mouth. 

What baby clothing or items are worthy of a splurge?

I personally love blankets. You want a good quality one that can stand the test of time, lots of washes, and being dragged through the mud. I use them for years. My 4-year-old still brings one to school every day. I also keep them in the car for diaper changes and to block the sun. Plus they make a great keepsake. Another tip, if you do splurge on a clothing item, put them in it as often as you can. I've saved things for special occasions, only to find when I pull them out, they don't fit!  

How do you choose the brands to be sold on the mini social?

Our own personal taste dictates most of the brands we feature, but we do try and balance it with designers that we know our members will love, too. Dominique and I have four girls between us, but one of our buyers, Ashley, has two boys and used to own a clothing website devoted to boys. So we are able to balance it all. We've got it covered.

melinda marineck

Melinda with daughter Matilda, 4


Do you have a favorite baby brand?

So many ... too many! Acoustic, Bee's & Dragons, Nest, and Egg Baby by Susan Lazar to name a few. It's so hard when you're surrounded by amazing designer clothing every day.

Are there fashion dos and don'ts for babies?

That's a toughie. I don't think so. Babies are so cute they can pull off most looks!

 

Thanks Melinda! And thanks to all the moms at the mini social.

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