Marcel Eberle, entrepreneur and founder of Marétoa, beachwear e-commerce founded in Brazil and which has also been operating in the North American market for three years, told us about his experience launching a swimwear brand in the United States. Check it out!
How did the idea of expanding a swimwear company to the United States come about?
When the idea came up, my wife and I had been working for about 4 years in Brazil with Marétoa. As we sell beachwear, our sales dropped by more than half in the winter, which posed a problem for the business. So, we went in search of some solutions for this. We tried, for example, to sell pajamas, but our audience is super engaged in bikinis and it didn’t work out.
Once, when my wife and I went to the United States, spending in dollars but earning in Reals, I thought “this account is not closing!”. Then came the idea of starting to earn in dollars, a strong currency. In addition, at the same time, the Brazilian political scenario was already uncertain, we did not know very well what the results would be and how Brazilians would be affected in the future; we didn’t want to be at the mercy of it.
It was then that we thought, “well, if we go to North America, we can sell bikinis all year round. When it’s winter here in Brazil, it’s summer there. In addition, we would not be subject to the variations and instabilities of a single market.”
We started researching and found the contents of Globalfy (check our YouTube channel), explaining the whole process, how the taxation work, and all that. In short, it took about two months to study, and then we set up a call with the Globalfy’s specialists, that’s when we decided: let’s do it!
What were the first steps like?
The whole opening of the company in the US process was done with Globalfy, then we went to the United States to open the bank account. At that time it was still necessary to go to the bank in person to do this process, today it is no longer needed.
I started to develop the website and made integrations with Amazon to be able to sell through the marketplace as well. Then we prepared a shipment, we shipped about 1000 products initially. We were scheduled to arrive at the same time as the products and stay in the country for about 30 days to experience the company in this initial period.
And what were the hardest challenges of selling Brazilian bikinis in the US?
I remember that in the first shipment to Globalfy’s warehouse, we had an unexpected loss. The company responsible for this shipment, I don’t know how lost the Commercial Invoice and the products arrived only with the Brazilian proof-of-purchase invoice.
So, a product that had a value of R$10,000 declared on an invoice was taxed as US$10,000. We had to pay a 25% tax on a much higher value than the actual value of the merchandise.
What was the beginning of launching a swimwear brand in the United States like?
In the beginning, it was more complicated, after all, we were spending in dollars, but still not earning it. We had just arrived in the United States, and costs were a reality, but the company had not yet started to show results.
How was the company’s insertion into the North American market?
At that moment, the butterflies in the belly came. How to advertise to that market? We still didn’t know. We started with Instagram and Facebook accounts, we followed people who interacted with bikini brands so that we could be seen, we were doing a little ant job.
We also started placing ads on Facebook Ads and my initial idea was to target Brazilians who live in the United States. Initially, we noticed that the products weren’t selling, so we adjusted some strategies. The first one was in the value of the product: we reduced it to about US$20.00 and advertised it as a promotion, that’s when we started to have better results.
Soon after that, we started to advertise also to the North American ladies and the company grew up. From one year to the next we almost tripled our growth.
What would you say to anyone who is thinking about starting a business in the United States?
I would tell people to go ahead and make it happen. There is a great chance that this new venture will succeed because the North American market was made to happen, to succeed. It is much simpler than selling in Brazil because everything is automated there.
Globalfy helped a lot throughout the process, demystifying this ‘monster’, that is being in a totally unknown market!
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