Interview with Maaji Founding Sisters, Amalia and Manuela Sierra. A 5 minute Read Questions & Answers.
From left to right: Manuela Sierra and Amalia Sierra. Maaji founders.
Before we dive into things, how is Maaji pronounced?
Manuela: We have always had a love of the ocean and were inspired to name our company Maaji, after the Maaji fish (from the Mahi-Mahi family) that lives in the waters of Thailand.
Amalia: We pronounce Maaji, like the fish, “Ma-Hee”.
You founded Maaji in 2002, what are you doing today?
Manuela: We are so fortunate; we both do what we absolutely love! I’m the Creative Director and work with our design team most of the day, and yes, this means going to all the amazing places we do photo shoots and working with some of the most creative minds in the industry. Besides spending time with my family, this is what excites me the most, the opportunity to create, innovate and surprise our customers, it’s a dream come true.
Amalia: As Maaji has grown we recognized the need for a professional CEO to provide strategic direction, guide us and focus on operational excellence. I’m Maaji’s Commercial Director, responsible for Sales and Marketing. Although Manuela and I both have a seat on the board, having the roles we do allow us to balance both our family and work life. I particularly love the creative process we use in the Marketing team and the opportunity to provide our customers with something beautiful. It’s what inspires me to get up and go every day. We truly are blessed.
Tell us about Maaji?
Manuela: Maaji is a Maajical place where our people come together to inspire, create and deliver what we like to call Maajic. Whether it’s creating a 4-way swimsuit or reversible activewear I love seeing the creative process in action, especially when we deliver a great quality piece that looks and fits amazing on so many different body types. When we create our pieces, it’s not just about the quality, detail, look and fit, it’s about how our pieces make our customers feel and what our pieces allow customers to do while wearing those garments.
Amalia: When we started Maaji, we did so based on the principle of “do the right thing”. That fundamental philosophy has been and continues to be the foundation for how we make our clothing and run our business. Early on we set out to be a zero-waste, eco-friendly brand. A brand that cares for its employees, providing all team members the ability to take care of their families, a brand that gives back to our community. After all these years, I’m happy to report we continue to do these things.
Part of the Maaji Team. Pre-Covid.
What is “Maajic”?
Manuela: Maajic is our people. Maajic is the ability to inspire, create, innovate, have fun and continually surprise and amaze our customers.
Amalia: Maajic is our ability to be authentic, to be conscious about what we do and how we impact the world and the people in it. Maajic is the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone we touch. We exist to deliver Maajic.
Your tags read, “Made in Colombia with Love”, tell me about it?
Manuela: The diverse lands and cultures that make up Colombia are a fundamental being of our essence. Maaji pieces are literally hand-made with love. From design, sewing of the pieces to the picking and packing of orders, every person in Maaji takes great pride in what they do because they know, in the end, they are giving our customers the best experience imaginable.
Amalia: Our pieces are truly made by hand, many of them touched at least 35 times before completion, not including our rigorous QA process. We’re proud of our Colombian heritage and the positive impact it has on what we do. The love comes from our team's desire to deliver Maajic, to make a positive difference in the lives of our customers.
What was so Maajical about 2020?
Manuela: 2020 has proven there is no challenge we can’t overcome when we work together. Our design team immediately began developing face coverings and other protective gear to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The first products produced were 10,000 face coverings that we were able to donate to hospitals facing a PPE shortage.
We were almost immediately able to get our same work done remotely as we did coming into the office. That’s not to say we didn’t have our challenges but working together we were able to make it happen.
Amalia: 2020 reinforced the important things in life… PEOPLE. Our family, our friends, our colleagues, our customers, everyone that lives on planet earth. With the outbreak of the pandemic came the need to stay home and isolate ourselves. With that isolation we heard birds sing we never heard before and we breathed air that has never been cleaner.
These simple things magnified the impact (negative and positive) we have on our environment and the Black Lives Matter movement put a spotlight on the inequalities in the world.
All of these things helped us to look inwards and realize that there is so much more Maaji can and will do to improve the world in which we live and for the people who live in it. We recognize it’s not only consumers who have a choice, but it’s also brands who have a choice and our choice is to make a positive difference and do more.
What should we expect from Maaji in 2021 and beyond?
Amalia: We will continue our commitment to caring for and providing all Maaji team members with more than just a livable wage, we will accelerate our sustainability efforts and provide transparency into our actions through quarterly reporting. We will dramatically move to be more inclusive. Most importantly we will use the Maaji platform to amplify the voice of what’s important to us and our customers... social justice, body positivity and sustainability.
Manuela: Look for ongoing collaborations with artists who share our creative passion to inspire, have fun and give back. In addition to some really cool collaborations, the introduction of new product lines and new fabrics, we will continue with our 4-way and reversible signature designs while accommodating a broader range of body types and expanding our use of best-in-class sustainable practices. Look for some exciting things coming in 2021.
How do you feel about the future?
Manuela: I’m excited about the future, about the life that’s in front of us, about the adventure that’s waiting for all of us. I’m not sure when or if things will ever go back to normal but I know we must live our lives to the fullest. There’s a big world out there. We owe it to ourselves to explore it.
Amalia: We have some amazing plans for the future. We know there are many challenges ahead of us. We don’t have all the answers. We have a lot to learn and a lot to do. Join our Maajical journey as we take action to leave our world a better place than we found it.
Any parting words?
Amalia: In 2020 we discovered the possibilities of change, not just in our actions but the way we look and how we communicate. As we close out 2020 and move into 2021 we’re rolling out a fresh update to our logo. One that embodies the optimism we have for the future. We hope you love it as much as we do.
Manuela: Enjoy life. Be adventurous. Be passionate. Be safe.