Brazilian bikinis in Saudi Arabia
The Santos city-based beachwear brand Santa Areia has shipped products to a client in the Arab country. The winner of a foreign trade prize, the company wants to do more business with Arab countries.
São Paulo – A beachwear brand hailing out of Santos, on the São Paulo state coast, Santa Areia (Portuguese for Holy Sand) exported bikinis to Saudi Arabia late last year. The four-piece order was placed online by a retailer and took business owner Margareth Sampaio de Sá by surprise, since the Saudis enforce strict rules when it comes to women’s attire. Females must appear in public with their hair and bodies covered at all times.
“It’s unheard of,” she says regarding the sale. She intends to go on selling beachwear to a market as peculiar for her products as Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries are. Margareth believes the pieces must have been meant for some foreign woman on a trip to Saudi Arabia. Santa Areia ships its goods using the Brazilian Postal Service’s Exporta Fácil (Easy Export) mailing solution, and it won a prize for micro, small and medium businesses, awarded in late 2015 by SP Chamber of Commerce, the export incentive arm of the São Paulo Trade Association (ACSP) and the Federation of Trade Associations of the State of São Paulo (Facesp).
The brand makes bikinis, swimsuits and beach wraps for adult women. Output averages at 5,000 units per month. Foreign sales revenues make up 45% of total earnings, including Portugal, Spain, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Japan. Products are sold as-is rather than localized, because buyers want the Brazilian style. “They go for Brazil’s bolder style,” says Margareth.
She explains that virtually all her export deals are made online. Santa Areia’s premier foreign client, the one that accounts for the bulk of foreign sales, is a woman who owns eight stores in the United States. She started out buying small amounts and then increased as her business expanded. Currently, Santa Areia also makes beachwear under that American brand, according to Margareth.
Santa Areia has been on the beachwear market for about four years now, but it started out as a textile mill before that, in 1993, when the company Margareth worked for was privatized and she lost her job. A fashion lover who sold clothes even when she had a job, she decided to start making children’s clothes. Then a buyer asked for children’s bikinis, so she started making those; and then someone inquired if she’d make adult beachwear, so she shifted her focus exclusively to this niche.
Margareth designs all of Santa Areia clothes, with three to four collections released each year. The company cuts, finishes and packages its items, but sewing is entrusted to dedicated third-party workshops. Besides the online store, which sells wholesale and retail, Santa Areia has three dedicated brick-and-mortar outlets run by partners – two in the Jardins and Tatuapé neighborhoods of São Paulo state’s namesake capital and one in the city of Araras, also in the state.
Phone: +55 (13) 33853330
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum