Launched in 2018, BEIS is a travel brand founded on the concept of giving every consumer the chance to own stylish luggage that doesn’t break the bank. Co-founded by ‘Pretty Little Liars’ actress Shay Mitchell, the line makes stylish trolley bags, tote bags and weekends. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the company set out to redefine what travel meant at the time and translated that definition to ‘on the go’, where it could apply to any stay or remote travel at a time. where the world was largely shut down. “I knew you didn’t have to be a jet set to resonate with consumers,” Mitchell says.
Here are excerpts from a recent interview with Mitchell and the company’s CEO, Adeela Hussain Johnson.
Why was BEIS originally created and when was it launched?
Shay: BÉIS was launched in October 2018 and was honestly born out of my own growing frustration with market offerings. I have been traveling since I was a teenager and have always been a little frustrated with the travel accessories on the market. I always felt that the bags I found were either out of my price range, looked good but lacked function, or were ugly and super packed with features. As I got older, I found more and more that there were no options for chic, highly functional AND affordable items in the travel category. It was the opportunity of the white space that I wanted to create with BÉIS.
Was it inspired by your love of travel?
Shay: Of course, my love of travel led me to have my own travel experiences – and experiences with bags and travel accessories – which led me to have very specific opinions on what constituted a ” good bag ”versus a“ bad bag ”. I found myself traveling, having the best time but with a bag that I epically missed. This happened a lot and at one point I started to take my frustration out on paper … or more often than not, cocktail napkins or whatever random bit I could get my hands on. jotting down my ideas for the bag of my dreams. The bags in my head always combined form and function and when I encountered a “problem” I would think about how I would like it to be solved. Casting BÉIS was one of those “perfect storm” opportunities that I literally jumped on when it presented itself. All of my travel experience, doodles and ideas for traveling with bags that did not meet my expectations have served me endlessly when we imagine, design and maximize the function (and form!) Of BÉIS pieces. .
How quickly at the start of the pandemic Beis saw that he had to rotate his inventory and his approach?
Adeela: Right now. I remember calling Shay the day after the lockdown and discussing how we need to pivot our assortment strategy and adjust our inventory plan. There was so much uncertainty back then and my number one priority was to stay nimble so that we could understand the environment, read consumer needs and be able to respond quickly. We looked at our top sellers and cut back a bit on the parts that were more overtly “air travel”; like the rollers. We also looked at our future assortment plan and reduced innovation in luggage, but looked at our smaller, hands-free, fashion and seasonal pieces. No one knew, at the time, how long we would be “anchored”, but we had to make big bets, without too much forethought, because production times are at least 3-4 months. Hopefully we got it right.
Which of these pivots worked the best and why?
Adeela: There were a few key decisions that we made early and decisively that I believe have helped us. Our inventory and assortment strategy aligned with where we predicted the market would move at a time when people traveled less by air, but still needed to move. Instead, they traveled by car, stayed more with their family, went out more, and probably took more walks – so our assortment and buying strategy supported what we thought was the “new normal”.
In addition, we had to take big bets on the investments. We wanted to be conservative where we could and double down in areas that were important to the integrity of our business, our brand and our consumers. We ran ads that were only for air travel and reallocated those dollars to get the brand’s message out of being a mobile and versatile brand, and we also focused on creative content that highlighted the functional aspects of our products. The consumer responded very well to this as they showed value for their spending and continued to highlight our points of differentiation. The weekender, for example, brought in 4x DTC income and the job brought in 2x DTC income, almost overnight as we pivoted the post and the creation.
Do you see a recovery in the travel industry throughout 2021?
Adeela: Yes. Several industry reports indicate this year’s fall and vacation will bring a resurgence, and I tend to agree. We’ve heard anecdotally that this would look like the roaring 2.0 of the 1920s. If our recent sales trends are any indicator of what to expect, then I’m very confident people are starting to venture out and think about it. move – in the past month, we’ve increased year-over-year growth by over 20%, from 113% year over year. growth a month ago to 135%, now.
How do you think the travel industry has changed permanently, and what is Beis doing to adapt to this new perspective?
Shay: Honestly, I know the function of travel has definitely changed, but fundamentally and from a philosophical point of view, travel will remain much the same. People travel because they want to explore, grow and learn. People travel to visit their families, to seek new experiences, to establish new relationships… it is a HUMAN experience. And for this reason, people will travel. They’ll continue to get on planes BUT maybe they’ll wipe their seats now, or not use the backrest of the plane, or think twice before stacking their clothes in the hotel dresser.
As seasoned travelers, we fully understand and focus on growing our brand with these needs and changes. We’ll continue to deliver innovation in the hands-free space and deliver solutions that allow you to essentially live out of our bag, so you can minimize exposure, while staying organized.
Where do you plan to go when the pandemic is behind us?
Shay: EVERYWHERE, but the first place will be back in Canada to visit family.