Mees – Reviving a brand
Mees is an Amsterdam-based brand run by a powerful team of 3 women: Claire, Ingeborg and Leonie. They define their brand as ‘a happy lifestyle one’ offering stylish yet comfortable clothes to sporty kids. We had the chance to talk to Claire and Leonie just after the trade show season. The 2 ladies were very busy following-up with retailers, but they put a lot of energy into this interview. This great spirit surely explains how and why they were able to completely changed Mees in the last few months… For the better of course!
How was Mees born?
That’s a bit of a tricky question actually. We joined Mees a year ago. Since then, we worked on reviving this children’s fashion brand that had not been very active so far. Mees has been one of the first online shops for children’s fashion here in the Netherlands. That was very new in 2002 and the brand was doing well until a variety of strong children’s brands joined the market. The previous owner then decided to focus on other areas of growth and the core of the brand was somewhat forgotten. Until we stepped in last year! A lot of older mothers still remember it and are pleased to see our styles back in stores.
How would you describe Mees’ style?
Mees is a happy lifestyle brand for kids. It is sporty, comfortable and always high in quality. We cater for both girls and boys 4 to 12 years old, with 2 collections each a year. Compared to our partner brand, Tumble’n Dry, it is more preppy and sporty. It is also important to note that it is a cash and carry brand. We don’t take pre-orders. During the season, our retailers order directly from us and we deliver within 24 hours, without any minimum order and mandatory size packs.
How did you transform Mees over the past year?
A year ago, we were nowhere to be found! Now we are present in 22 shops and we have our own online shop. We are growing very fast but still have a long way to go. The last year was all about setting up the basics. We are just 3 people in the team – Leonie, Claire and Ingeborg – and we are doing everything ourselves. Over the past 12 months, we moved production from one country to another, found new partners and set up an online shop with new systems. Everything is new. It was a year of extreme highs and lows – many things went wrong (like they always do) – but now we are in a really good place. We have all our systems worked out, we know what we have to do and we have a good plan for the future. It’s a great starting point for us to grow in 2017!
This year, for the second time, we hosted a stand at the Kleine Fabriek. In comparison to 2016, we chose a smaller stand and planned many meetings and conversations. Now we are of course busy following up with those retailers wishing to place orders.
Are trade shows important for you?
They are a good way to meet our retailers and to establish a personal relationship. We think that is very important because we put our trust in long-term relationships.
How do you reach out to new customers?
We sell through retail stores in The Netherlands but also directly to end consumers via our own online shop.
Online is the most important channel at the moment and that also extends to doing B2B online. That is why we think FashionTrade.com will be so crucial in our development. We don’t have an online B2B shop yet and we won’t invest in it because we intend to use FashionTrade.
I think it’s great to give retailers a place where they can see what they buy without paying ahead for it. It’s like an online agency where you can show your collection. Another thing we really like about FashionTrade.com is that we have the opportunity to see who wants to buy Mees. We can evaluate who our customers are and decide if we want to do business with a store or not. It’s important to see where we are placing our products. We do not want to place Mees in a store just because this store sells children’s wear. The style of that retailer and their other brands are important factors for us to reach the right target audience. We place a big focus on branding.
How are you showing your collections at the moment?
We have a showroom, downstairs in our office. We invite our retailers and partners to visit it. Since we are currently only working with stores in the Netherlands, this way has worked out well for us so far.
Do your end customers find you through these retail stores?
Yes and no. For us online is a very important channel and our customers (moms and dads buying for their little ones), often find us via Facebook and Instagram. We use social media a lot to interact with our customers. In that sense, we think social media are the best: it allows for a two-way conversation. It is important for us to have dialogues with our customers.
We also like to ask our customers what they want. We ask them about our collections and about colours. Would it be nice to sell shoes or swimwear? We do this with parents but also with our B2B retailers.
Have your customers ever influenced your collections?
Yes, a lot of the time! An example: We started with Mees thinking that the brand had to be sporty. In the first collection, there were no chino, no blouses, no button-down shirts for boys…and our customers were missing these! And they let us know! We pride ourselves on communication, so we listened to our customers and made the appropriate changes in our following collections. The same goes for colours: at the beginning, we didn’t use any pink but our customers let us know quickly that they would like to purchase our items like dresses and blouses in pink – whilst keeping the traditional Mees styling as well. So the next time we did not skip the colour pink but picked the right tone that would suit our style and yes, our customers are buying it.
What are your plans for 2017?
We plan on continuing down the current path. We will grow our online and retail business by expanding into Belgium. We would like to increase our collection as well but that depends on how well we are selling of course. We will keep up the good work we have done so far, hire new salespeople and grow our team. This is just the beginning of Mees!
Young mothers don’t remember the ‘old Mees’ so we emphasising our marketing to reach these new customers. We do different collaborations and gain media attention in titles such as Linda Magazine. Our brand is very popular in Brabant, in the south of the Netherlands so we think it will also receive good feedback in Belgium. Through FashionTrade we plan to expand to Belgium.
Do you feel like Mees is the right partner for you? Request an invite on FashionTrade.com and connect with them.