Sea Bags navigates through uncertain times

The boating season is in full swing and the brand of accessories Sea Bags limits the benefits.

In fact, despite continued inflationary pressures that have caused many consumers to rethink their spending habits, the Portland, Maine-based brand – which makes handmade bags and other sustainable decorations, such as pillows exterior and doormats from recycled sails – has grown during the pandemic.

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Over the past 12 months, Sea Bags revenue has grown over 60% – 97% over the past three years. The company has also grown its store footprint by approximately 50% since 2020, now having 45 physical locations in its fleet, up from 20 in 2019 and in new markets including Michigan, Florida and California. ; increased its pre-pandemic workforce from 150 people to more than 200 and doubled the size of its Maine-based manufacturing space from 15,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. Sea Bags has also collaborated with Vera Bradley, Life Is Good, Mount Gay Rum and Vineyard Vines, among others. Additionally, Sea Bags launched a new website in late 2020 for a more user-friendly experience with increased speed and increased traffic capacity.

“This is a very exciting time for Sea Bags,” said Don Oakes, CEO of Sea Bags.

It’s also a huge expansion for an accessible luxury brand that sells handbags north of $200 each, discretionary items that are normally the first thing consumers pass on in times of uncertainty.

But Oakes said the combination of increased brand awareness through the growing fleet of stores and sustainable products has helped the company weather the storm.

“Our unique stores and products have allowed us to thrive in these difficult times,” the CEO told WWD, explaining that pandemic-related real estate transactions have allowed the company to open more stores than originally planned. and many times in markets that were previously unaffordable. “Over the years, we’ve learned that the best way to understand our brand and experience our product is in person, and that’s why stores have become our biggest channel. We expect the current economic environment to present opportunities for future growth and retail expansion, as it did in 2020.”

“Our core message of sustainability also seems to be resonating with more and more people as awareness of the importance of recycling and reuse continues to grow, as well as a renewed public focus on sustainability. buying products like ours that are made in the USA,” Oakes said. added.

Additionally, since the company is based in Maine and all products are made in the United States, Oakes said the company hasn’t had to deal with ongoing supply chain challenges.

“Sea Bags was founded with a mission to create and retain jobs in the United States, as well as save sails from landfills,” he explained. “Most years, our growth has been limited only by our ability to increase production. After the incredible growth we have experienced [in 2021], we have plans to double our production over the next few years. We always say our supply chain is Maine first, New England second, USA third, and it stops there.

Sea Bags was started by Hannah Kubiak, who in 1999 was living aboard her father’s sailboat in Maine. As a hobby, Kubiak started making bags from recycled sailcloth. Because Kubiak sewed the bags by hand, she could only produce about 40 a year.

But her bags managed to catch the attention of Beth Shissler, who began buying them in bulk and reselling them in her mother’s gift shop. In 2006, the duo decided to join forces and Sea Bags the company was born.

“We’re in places where people like to visit and vacation,” Oakes said. “It is therefore the ideal moment to discover our brand and discover our products. Each of our products is unique and no two are identical. »