SIBLINGS & BUSINESS PARTNERS
Interview with Amalia & Manuela, Maaji Founding Sisters
From left to right: Amalia Sierra and Manuela Sierra. Maaji founders.
Inspiring, unique, and powerful. These are some of the attributes we can use to describe Amalia and Manuela, the sisters and business partners who created Maaji in 2003, and who are still working together to inspire and deliver Colombia’s Maajic to the world. We’ve asked them five questions about the company, their roles and Maaji’s sustainability journey. Let’s see their answers.
1. You founded Maaji almost 20 years ago. How has the industry changed in the past 20 years?
Answer: The swimwear industry has changed significantly. We have had huge changes in printing processes and in fabric technology. The industry's cycles are increasingly faster and more efficient. Today 80% of our garments are made with sustainable materials, which was unthinkable 20 years ago!
Over the years, we have realized that this market is huge and that we have the whole summer lifestyle to conquer. We want to be the biggest summer lifestyle brand in the world, and we will get there without a doubt! Our mission is to continually transform ourselves and grow over time.
2. Despite selling the company, you're both still incredibly involved in it. Can you tell us about your roles?
Answer: We both play a hands-on role in the day-to-day happenings at Maaji.
Manuela, Maaji Creative Director, leads the creative processes and design teams. Not only does that include product development, but everything from concept to completion, including initial ideas for products to the completed designs of garments sent to Maaji’s seamstresses.
Amalia, Maaji Sales and Marketing Director, spends a significant amount of time working with our wholesale customers, the Sales Teams, and our Marketing Teams to bring the Maajic to life. Her passion is the creative process, telling the Maaji story and providing the Maaji girl with that little extra surprise included in each and every purchase.
3. Maaji is based in Colombia, your native homeland. How has Colombian style influenced your designs and the brand overall?
Answer: The beauty of the Colombian spirit is at our core. The color and vibrance of our beautiful landscapes and everyday people is a part of us and deeply inspires our designs.
Many of our collections are inspired by the natural beauty of our home. The Sacred Fauna Collection was inspired by Colombia’s wildlife; others, like the Spritzer House Collection, are full of flower prints inspired by the flora of Colombia.
Diversity is one of our biggest inspirations. Diversity in our people: we see women and men with different fashion styles, hair colors, skin tones, and body types. That is a huge inspiration, not only for designing but for the ethos of our company. It reminds us that everyone is unique, and we love them for that.
Colombia is a resilient country: its’ people are hardworking, passionate, and full of joy. These are the main characteristics that make us fall in love with our country every day. The resilience of our people inspires us to keep working towards making a difference for our community and to take our Maajic from Colombia to the world.
4. Sustainability is a big part of Maaji. Tell us a little bit about your journey in cultivating a sustainable spirit at the company
Answer: We have always believed it’s our responsibility to be a steward to the planet. In the beginning, we felt planting trees, promoting zero waste with our suits, and doing beach clean-ups was the right thing to do. As we’ve matured, we realized we can, and we must do more.
In 2020, we made the decision to invest heavily in our sustainability to become B Corp certified, following in the footsteps of Patagonia, the brand we believe to be the top role model for sustainability in the fashion industry. We expect the assessment phase to be completed by the first half of 2022.
To help drive sustainable efforts throughout Maaji, we have enlisted our most senior designer, Caro Restrepo, to lead our sustainability initiatives. We’ve also hired Environmental Engineer Andrea Uribe Correa to quantify our annual carbon footprint, measure and manage impacts in our supply chain and optimize our waste management program, along with other efforts.
In addition to the environmental aspects of our sustainability efforts, we also focus on our most important asset – our employees. We ensure our team members are paid more than just a living wage and strive to create an inclusive and joyful company culture.
We know sustainability is a journey, and we are committed to sharing our successes and findings along the way.
5. Our final question is a little more lighthearted. Amalia and Manuela, what are the swimwear trends for 2022’s upcoming summer season?
Answer: Retro is everything right now! We’re breathing life into past trends from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Color blocking, mixing and matching, neon, and pastel colors. Placement prints and hyper sexy tanning bikinis are coming on strong. We are bringing the Maaji Maajic to more diverse and different body types. Body positivity is not just a trend, but a core belief for us. We are expanding sizes from XS to 3XL!