How Swim Brand Maaji Has Navigated the Pandemic
The COVID-19 lockdowns came at particularly challenging time for brands with a big spring business.
So we checked in with swimwear brand Maaji to see how they navigated the coronavirus pandemic.
Maaji’s fiscal year ended June 30, and the brand managed to end the year flat, according to VP of North America Kelly Ellingson.
“All things considered, we feel like that is a big win,” she said.
Several things helped the Colombia-based company during the crisis. They pivoted quickly to making protective apparel such as masks, face scarves, and hoodies and jackets with built in face coverings.
Also Maaji’s Latin America customers, which typically had not shopped much online before the pandemic, began embracing digital commerce. That in turn allowed the company to repurpose fabrics and other inventory when brick-and-mortar stores were closed.
In addition, the Maaji management team took voluntary pay cuts, which helped protect other full time employees and keep them on the payroll. Maaji also cut spending in every other area that it could, Kelly said.
When it came to the supply side, Maaji moved quickly and was able to stop production on its High Summer line, including not cutting its fabric. That fabric can then be saved and repurposed for other seasons or uses.
“We are grateful to be such a nimble company allowing for flexibility in both our supply chain and product designs, which helped,” Kelly said. “We immediately re-tooled to create a protective wear program and now we are incorporating loungewear into our 2021 plans.”
With the virus still a factor in daily and business life, Maaji is embracing virtual tools as it prepares to launch Spring 2021, including virtual line showings and video clips with product on models. The brand is also in talks with a few virtual trade shows.
The company is being very guarded in planning for next fiscal year, even though sales have bounced back more than expected after wholesale customers reopened.
The company is being cautious and will not travel for the rest of the year.
“We don’t want to put employees in harm’s way and want to protect the safety of our team,” Kelly said. “I don’t think any of us know where this is going to go. We are grateful things are better right now, but we are going to be cautious.”
Overall, Maaji feels fortunate to have made it through some of the most challenging times on record.
“We are hopeful that the best it yet to come,” Kelly said.
Editor’s Note: Private Equity firm L Catterton, which owns a stake in Maaji, also owns a controlling interest in Seafolly, the Australian swim brand that filed for voluntary administration last week. Maaji and Seafolly are separate entities, however, and Maaji is not impacted by Seafolly’s situation.