Bilbao- based (Spain) unisex wear brand. Founded by the business partners Irantzu Blanco Santamaria for the surf lovers.

Business / Brand: Kawenlamar

Current situation: the brand sells only sweaters. The founder is a 23 years old UX designer, can use graphic programs and love to experiment. Irantzu has no access to manufacturing and has no knowledge of textile, can’t afford to join fairs to find suppliers or buyers.

Problems identified by Maelle: the brand has a string conflict between the mood/image the founder Irantzu wants to convey and the logo design that was made as first thing. The brand identity is unclear and the target confused. Irantzu is young and good at socials, so the communication plan would be easy to follow.

Sections of focus: Branding, Business, Production, Communication.

Objective: To position Kawenlmar as the best unisex relaxed wear for surf lovers among age 15-29, using all the storytelling based on the name itself and the made in Basque Country story.

Introduction and problem statement

Irantzu is a young UX designer, a lover of sports and the outdoors. She founded the Kawenlamar brand in 2021, with the intention of creating a product that couples of surfers could exchange, use on a thousand occasions, with a lived-in and familiar look, suitable for girls and boys aged 15 to 29.

Irantzu contacts Leda and Martina and all the story is explained. Now Leda and Martina analyse the concept and starts working with Kawenlamar.

Irantzu’s desire is to celebrate a real wild lifestyle. However, the surfer she has in her mind is not clear: she thinks the surfer should have fun, celebrate and drink alcohol with awareness and friends, but also spend time in nature relaxing, appreciating the sound of the waves on the rocks or the warmth of the sun.

The brand’s primary objective is to meet suppliers who understand the style that the founder has in mind and who are willing to deal with all the limitations start-ups have. So Irantzu saves money in visiting trade fairs (because of low budget) and on shipments of random materials samples.

The goal of the sales is to create an e-commerce as the price-point of the product should be within 65 euros to the end customer, and it is possible to create a stock.

Moodboards for the idea

The analysis of the problem

Speaking with Irantzu, Leda understands that the first part of the project to be defined to understand the costs of manufacturing the product is to define the target, for this Irantzu will use the Branding-Brand book section.

It is important that the young enterpreneur Irantzu is aware of how to manage earnings, mark-ups for retailers or mark-ups for online retailers, investments and work-flows. For this purpose, Irantzu uses the Business section, where it is clear that the SWOT, business model, contracts are part of her business plan. The business plan is important above all because, in the private sessions between the founder and the Maelle team, it is clear that the brand is interested (and has the fundamental requirements) to also be invested by VC/Angels money within the first 3 years of activities.

The main objective is to sell a product that creates a lifestyle, and that can position itself as a “collector’s” brand, very likely to be since it is based on a single product – sweatshirts, with one click size of only 3 sizes (S-M-L), that can be suitable for girls and boys.

Leda analyzes with Martina how to communicate the brand and it is understood that: the brand would have a lot of chances of being sold and bought repetitively if it were an exclusive limited-edition seasonal collection. It would be advisable to choose a theme and carry it on (squeezing it totally) for four seasons, before expanding the range of products.

  1. The first problem is the identity of the target and the price-point;
  2. The second problem is production (find the right start-ups friendly all-in-one manufacturing);
  3. The third is communication, which is not hesitant, since the values are not clear.

Leda sends these business analysis to show to the founder Irantzu how Maelle can help their brand.

Maelle team creates this document to share with the founder of Kawenlamar the reasons to change her business model, working on the target and the logo at the beginning.

From ZERO money budget to supply chain

This situation is not so uncommon: the founder has brilliant ideas, but is young and is still studying or working in a corporate, dedicating only his free time to the fashion brand.
The inability to procure trusted suppliers and inexperience in the industry is due to young age and lack of funds. Plus, you don’t have the money to invest into fairs and trade shows to travel and discover your next collaborator.

Maelle was created precisely to prevent the founders with an innovative and functional product concept from losing opportunities for economic reasons.

Read more to find out what can you do if you are in the same situation.

Put yourself in the best position

As a young fashion brand founder aged 18 to 29, there are unfortunately some points to your disadvantage, which must be eliminated before interfacing with a distributor and opening up to the sales network.
Read on to understand what they are and how to manage them.

In Maelle there is a section entirely dedicated to Entrepreneurship Coaching and it would be appropriate for you to start there.

Age has pros anc cons

Your age limits you even if you have brilliant ideas, so try to make the most of it.

Cons: The collaborators you will meet on your enterpreneurship path know perfectly well that if you are young you are also easily manipulated and that you lack experience in the field and experience in life. This can make you act madly in ups and downs situations you gonna face.

Pros: If you're young, though, you're also likely a digital native. You have a lot of advantages against your likely competition. If you know how to use social media, you know how to edit and publish content online without effort, then save money on collaborators who would do these activities for you. You cannot imagine how much money the fashion founders who are 30 to 45 years old (who are also inside Maelle!) spend on digital communication because they do not have the manual skills and mentality to approach a constantly evolving digital world.

The idea is half of the project

The bright and innovative idea is what will save you.
You may be thinking that you have all the market forces against you. You do not have a large budget to invest in the brand, you have no contacts for the production of the prototypes and you do not know how to behave professionally with the timing of fashion.

Do as Irantzu: Kawenlamar's idea is to create three sweatshirts per season, which we have printed on the most desirable places to go surfing. The first season therefore has Uluwatu, Banzai Pipeline and Mundaka. If you don't know them, it doesn't matter, the concept is to attract professional surfers, to create a sense of belonging in the surf community around the world. If you don't know them, it may be that you are not the target. But that's the beauty: the target, after using Maelle, was super clear and defined. The fundamental point of the brand is to create products to collect, sweatshirts of every color, limited edition, to be able to give away, to be obtained only in certain periods of the year. You can well understand that this idea alone is already half of the project.

Education is a choice you can make today

Today the founders of a fashion brands  has no excuse to inform themselves. You can learn about and investigate anything. Not only are there paid courses, but a lot of free online content.

At Maelle, education is the basis of our mission to make the fashion industry more accessible and simple (it is no coincidence that our first archetype is the Sage!).
If you are young, you cannot miss the desire to learn, get involved and take advantage of what you have: time.
When you have no money, time is the first resource to draw on.
The education that Maelle provides is precious: it is not a course, but a membership that is renewed every year, so you are sure to be always updated on news, to have a direct channel with the experts and the players in the sector, everything just a click away.

what is the problem?

Blind Investments
Brands must blindly invest in going to fairs in order to meet buyers, suppliers and competitors, which is a huge expense

After Maelle

The brilliant concept

Irantzu Blanco Santamaria starts using Maelle, and one thing is immediately clear: Kawenalmar has to start with 3 single products developed into the sized S-M-L.

The first three products are dedicated to the most famous surfing spots: Uluwatu, Banzai Pipeline and Mundaka. 

The brillian idea comes from a braistorming session between Leda and Irantzu: why don’t make it similar to a “personality test”?

The founder Irantzu researches the history of each of these three famous places. Leda analyzes the name and romaticizes its meaning, so that the one who buys the sweatshirt is reflected in a precise personality.

From here, for example:

“Mundaka. “Munda agua”, clear water, land of the infanta of Scotland, mother of Juan Zuria, who arrived on the coast of Mundaka. The Scots had never seen water so clear. You are always looking for the thruth and this leads you to travel, to always seek purer and clearer water.

History must be communicated and must be visible.
Irantzu abandons the obvious idea of inserting the story on the paper tag (because it is thrown away) or printing it inside the sweatshirt in the center back.

The best choice is to place it in a visible place, which is in line with the style of the brand and reflects the functionality of the product: the right side in the middle.

Leda assists Irantzu in choosing the material (canvas) and placing it on the product. (Irantzu will choose the precise spot when she receives the sample and wears it, then the choice is conscious and considered).



The solution

Irantzu starts with the Branding section, she understands that:

  • there are too many versions of the same logo (in this case we speak of “excess of visual creativity”) and not all versions can be used at the same time. Irantzu chooses the one that, after the analysis with Leda, appears to be in line in shapes and colors, with the mood of the brand. Irantzu requests the assistance of the expert Marco Gallotta.
  • values are dedicated to an active, community and fun lifestyle. At the end of the test on the Brand Book, he discovers that he has the Explorer as the main archetype, which follows the motto: “You only get one life, get out and make it count.” The slogan is truly emblematic of the sport of surfing: “Never stop exploring, don’t give up and life fiercely”.
Irantzu accesses the Business section and begins to follow all the guidelines created by the trade expert Khalid Mahdi, understands what a business plan is and prepares it for presentation to investors. In the Business section there are tips related to the determination of a commercial activity in its entirety, information, legal guides (contracts and negotiations) and all the support from the expert.
The Kawenlamar product must meet certain standards: the material and the dyeing are natural and free of toxic agents, the production is sustainable, a specific process called “erosion aging” is carried out, so the choice of suppliers is extremely specific. In Maelle, when Irantzu expresses her needs, she is sure to find what she is looking for.
In the Communication section, Irantzu simply has to follow the directions created by Martina Di Pasquale, our expert in sales communication, within the editorial calendar. The founder is able to create photo and video contents and publish them in complete autonomy, this allows her to devote most of her time and skills in the conception (with a pinch of help from Martina), in the creation and editing of content on the site and social networks.
Finally, the Sales section is defined in the Sales section, Irantzu follows the guidelines for a profitable negotiation with buyers, as she is new to the approach and does not want to miss any sales opportunities. The brand is mainly sold with large distributors and multi-brand stores in Western Europe, Caribbean Islands, Indonesia, South East Asia and some other locations where surfing is present as an adventure sport.


latest collection Kawenlamar

we support brands even more!

We do support brands with ad hoc services that, because of their own customization nature, can not be included into the membership Maelle. Kawenlamar asked for those services:

  1. analysis of competitors (branding section – expert: Leda Di Marti);
  2. basic communication strategylikely Irantzu is a digital native and could take care of the majority of the creation (communication section – expert: Martina Di Pasquale);
  3. sample production assistance (production section – expert: Leda Di Marti);
  4. print concept + design (production section – expert: Leda Di Marti).

Analysis of competitors

  • What is included into Maelle membership: in the Branding section, there is the quiz called Brand Book to know your archetype, your consumer’s behavior and analyze a slogan with which a brand can elaborate its commercial strategy. This information is sufficient for the founder of the brand to independently process its competitors, it is also an excellent exercise for self-assessment: what is the price? Is it a competitive price? Does the brand have an attractive style, in line with other brands?

At any time, at the end of this self-analysis, or in its development, the founder can always contact Leda Di Marti for a discussion with the expert.

  • What Maelle experts give you: When a founder does not have time or does not want to face a competitor analysis alone, the expert Leda Di Marti analyzes for the brand all the different types of competitors in detail, with advice and inputs to develop the brand and its communication and commercial network:
    Style competitor, mood competitor, price competitor, product competitor, target competitor.

Basic communication stategy

  • What is included into Maelle membership: one full year of editorial content plan (determinated by the official fashion calendar of ready-to-wear/pret-à-couture – production, photoshoot sessions, sales campaign, etc.), made by the expert Martina Di Pasquale. The editorial content plan is based on the form you fill up at the beginning of each season.

  • What Maelle experts give you: 

    1. support in the creation of a strategy that includes the search for a PR office in the markets chosen for the distribution of the product, use and promotion of ads and collaborations with influencers (in general analysis of online and offline options);
    2. support in the creation of individual contents for the brand’s social networks, including the writing of the scripts – captions for the social networks, the registration and editing of the content (videos, carousels, photos) for all social media and the brand website.

Print concept + designing

  • What is included into Maelle membership: the expert graphic designer and creative director Marco Gallotta is responsible for the creation and idealization of prints, logos and iconic symbols/characters for the brands in Maelle. In the Production section guidelines are given by Marco (with the support of Leda) on how to clearly plan a graphic project. Marco explains how to manage both a print, a logo or a symbol that ends up on a few items in the collection or create a real trait of recognition of the brand itself. This guide is sufficient for a founder to be able to create a print (Maelle also lists the necessary tools) or to be able to choose one created by a professional graphic designer (pattern designer / print designer / logo designer).
  • What Maelle experts give you: When a founder does not have time or does not want to face a competitor analysis alone, the expert Leda Di Marti analyzes for the brand all the different types of competitors in detail, with advice and inputs to develop the brand and its communication and commercial network:
    Style competitor, mood competitor, price competitor, product competitor, target competitor.

Sample Production assistance

  • What is included into Maelle membership: in the Supplier section, the brand can find all the list of suppliers that “matched” the criteria chosen at the time of enrolling in Maelle. The founder will have a wide choice and will be able to communicate with manufacturers, suppliers of fashion materials, fabrics, print shops, pattern makers and even artisan tailors, before choosing the one to whom to entrust part or all of his production. The expert Leda is ready to lead the brand with the choice, in a private session, bookable on the Sessions page.
  • What Maelle experts give you: In case the brand founder needs assistance beyond the single 1:1 consultancy session, he/she can ask Leda and her team for help for a specific project on the production of prototypes, samples or industrial. In the case of Irantzu and her brand Kawenlamar, Leda took care of communicating daily with the production system (share of pictures, videos, videocalls, shipping of materials and samples, quality check, organize collaborators and timing between suppliers, etc), as Irantzu needed technical support for the choice of materials, quality of garment finishes and overall fitting. Leda received the same technical material and colors sheets that Irantzu received, and they chose together based on their expectations of the product. The process lasts from 3 to 5 weeks and involves all the professionals needed for the production of the garment: pattern makers, manufacturing, printing, embroidery, fabric makers.