Maaji: Making a Splash with Sustainable Design

Colombia-based beachwear brand Maaji was founded in 2002 by sisters Amalia and Manuela Sierra. Maaji is committed to sustainability and conservation of the sea and natural landscape that inspires their bright and whimsical designs.

Growing up in Medellin, Colombia, their parents instilled in them a love of travel and an entrepreneurial spirit. This, combined with their “passion for fashion” drove Amalia and Manuela’s desire to create their own swimwear brand that reflected their unique style. The sisters were a natural choice to go into a partnership, saying “We are each other’s best friends, or as we prefer to say, soul mates. We are very much different people and those differences truly help compliment each other.”

When they started Maaji, Amalia and Manuela did almost everything themselves; from designing their signature bold styles, to cutting and embroidering, and ultimately selling. This gave them the ability to oversee all processes to ensure the best quality and a great customer experience. Their hands-on approach taught them what worked, what didn’t, and what they needed to adjust to continually improve upon their processes and build their brand. During Maaji’s first three years, they ran their operations out of their home but eventually they outgrew the space and were able to move into their own location. With this expansion, they began to hire smart, fun people with a knowledge base that would help them to grow the business. Before they knew it, Maaji was selling in Nordstrom and other prominent retailers and is now sold in more than 800 stores and in over 50 countries around the world.

Pictured: Maaji founders Amalia and Manuela Sierra

What makes Maaji different and unique?

We have a very strong Maaji fan base, so it would be easy to say our creativity, bold and playful prints, and overall design and quality of our products, but it’s something much more fundamental. It’s the people who work at Maaji, the ones who create and deliver the Maajic. We recruit and hire people who believe strongly they can make a difference, people who want to conquer the world, people who believe in what we are doing, and people who want to have FUN! We look for people who want to make a positive difference, whether it’s taking care to get packages out on time or developing products that are more sustainable. It’s about doing the right thing and respecting each other, our customers and the environment. For us, the human part of Maaji is very important, it’s what we are all about.

What inspires you and your designs? 

Each collection is different. We find inspiration from our travels, our experiences, and what’s going on in the world. Maaji is headquartered in Medellin, and we are continually inspired by the biodiversity of Colombia, the second most biodiverse country in the world.  We have the honor and privilege to live and play in both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean as well as the Darien jungle and the Amazon.

Can you tell us about your sustainability initiatives and why they are important to you?

We feel a very tight connection to the world we live in and so we always felt it was important to give back. We’ve planted trees since the beginning of Maaji, sponsored many beach clean ups, and been focused on eliminating all waste in our manufacturing processes. We’ve created a number of swim and active lines made from recyclable materials and continue to expand them. Sustainability is one of our top priorities. We have recently created a sustainability department headed by our most senior designer who reports directly to our CEO. We are also currently working towards becoming a certified B Corp, the gold standard in sustainability certification. Stay tuned, we have a long journey ahead of us and we would love for you to join us, learn with us, and make a positive difference in the world we live in.

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