Brazilian businesswoman and stylist Luana Soares had proof, just last October, that Brazilian bikinis are truly successful around the world, even in the Arab world.
"In August, I exported 400 bikinis to an Egyptian importer and he sold them all," said Luana, who established the Flor de Menta brand, from Rio Grande do Sul, which specializes in beachwear.
Although the sale to the Arab country was made via a trading company, the Egyptian importer already has a scheduled visit to get to know the Brazilian company up close, in January 2007, when he will come to São Paulo to attend Couromoda, a trade show in the leather shoe and accessory sector.
"We are going to negotiate a new order," she said. In addition to Egypt, the businesswoman has already sent samples to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and plans to start exporting next year.
According to Luana, the bikinis shipped to the region had the Flor de Menta brand and the company’s standard modelling. "I sense that the Arabs enjoy and identify very much with our product. For most of the countries that I export to, I have to change the sizes," she claimed.
The company’s exports began last year, and the brand’s products are already present in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United States, France, Portugal and South Africa. Currently, the company, which has 20 outsourced partners, has orders for approximately 15,000 bikinis to deliver by the end of the year.
According to Luana, 60% to 70% of production is aimed at the foreign market. "I make export-type bikinis. My modelling is well-behaved, and our sizes range from extra small to extra large," she said.
Contrary to most companies, Flor de Menta grew aimed at the foreign market. "We started out strong in the foreign market, and now we are seeking to establish the brand in Brazil," said Luana, who is opening a store in December in Xangri-Lá, a beach in Rio Grande do Sul, in a partnership with two other brands, one for gym wear and the other for lingerie.
The international contacts that Luana made were not the fruit of big foreign trade shows. The businesswoman explains that the city of Novo Hamburgo, where her company is based, is a big shoe hub in southern Brazil, thus attracting a lot of importers.
Nevertheless, with the decline in shoe exports due to the appreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar, importers are discovering new products in the city. "Bikini-making is a new market niche around here," she said.
According to Luana, the feature that makes Flor de Menta stand out is its "Brazilness" and the female character of the pieces she creates, which include embroidery, crochet, lace and color.
"The Flor de Menta brand conveys the notion of a product that is fresh, comfortable and feminine. It is intended to make any woman feel pretty at the beach," she claimed.
One of the brand’s new features is the fact that its bikinis will soon smell like mint, which will please customers even more.
In addition to bikinis, Flor de Menta has a line of accessories, such as skirts, sarongs, pants, gowns, caps, shorts, key chains and flip flops. The brand’s products are already available at stores in the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo, and in the southern states of Santa Catarina and Paraná.
Anba – www.anba.com.br