Redefining Retail: Onia Swimwear

Onia is a luxury swim and ready-to-wear apparel company started in 2009 by Carl Cunow and Nathan Romano (pictured right). With Carl formally of Steven Alan and Nathan formally of New Balance and Ed Hardy, they were presented with the unique opportunity and expertise to put Onia on the map.

Onia began as strictly high-end men's swimwear until 2015 when they expanded and began to carry women's swimwear and ready-wear styles as well. Since then, their women's line has become nearly 50% of their Ecommerce business and they have seen mark-able growth over the last year, which is not something that most apparel companies are touting these days. 

I begin working at Onia as a Marketing and Ecommerce Associate in just under a month, so naturally I have been doing my research. With companies like Pac Sun and Victoria's Secret looking down the barrel of bankruptcy, I had to know how Onia is seeing the success that seems to be evading their lower-end competition. From my perspective, here are the 3 tactics that Onia is using in order to stay relevant and continue to grow:


Born and bred online, Onia breathes new life into the retail industry. 


Luxury = Longevity 

As a college student, my bank account has effectively been in the negatives for the last four years, but soon I will be a young professional who no longer has to shop the sale rack (hopefully). When that day comes I will be more than happy to spend the money to receive quality products and I am not alone. It is not a coincidence that high end retailers such as Saks, Bloomingdales and Barney's don't often see the sort of losses that low or middle end retailers do. This is because just as McDonald's is recession proof, so are luxury goods. High end shoppers are often loyalists and will continue to buy the same brands for as long they find the styles enticing. High end clothing companies also usually have a few off-shoot brands that sell for less, without saturating the brand.

With that being said...


Luxury doesn't always break the bank

Onia is known for the $200 swimsuits sold on their site, but what many people don't know is that you can purchase one of the brands under Onia's umbrella, Trunks, for a fraction of the price. Trucks is sold wholesale to retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Amazon and Urban Outfitters for around $50 a pair. Trunks is a men's swimwear label and has a volume of about 20% more than Onia, bringing in the day to day revenue that their more expensive products don't. In addition to Trunks, Onia also designs and manufactures swimsuits that are sold under several of their partners brand name including but not limited to the retailers listed above. High volume and low price is a great way to attract customers who can't afford certain pricey items but aren't willing to skip out on quality.


Partners in Crime

Onia has a long list of retail partners who have helped this start up become a force to be reckoned with. Some partners are no-brainers such as Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, MR Porter and Theory but some of their most interesting partners are the ones you'd never expect like Ritz-Carlton and UBER?!

Onia and The Ritz have a long standing relationship built off the strong foundation of beach towels. Every room has an embroidered Ritz-Carlton towel made with the same high quality products that go into all of Onia's apparel.

Their most unique partnership was with UberRUSH during previous summer seasons. UberRUSH is a same day delivery service available in select cities. Although this service is no longer offered it allowed Onia to push their Ecommerce presence that much further by being there for customers before they boarded the Jitney sans swim trucks.


Be sure to check out Onia's new Spring 2016 line at!

Tastemaker Timeline


a person who decides or influences what is or will become fashionable.

Every decade has a handful of people who are credited with being the biggest influences to popular culture during that period of time. I've compiled a timeline of some of the people I believe to have been some the most influential tastemakers of the last century.

Fame is so Sweet

This past winter I was lucky enough to be a part of a few of Ben and Jerry's promotional video's for Free Cone Day. Unfortunately, I cannot embed the video but be sure to check it out here:! It was really interesting to be on the other side of the marketing world and getting to see how creative is executed and the time that goes into a seemingly simple social media ad.

Be sure you don't miss Free Cone Day on Tuesday, April 12th!

Also, this:

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

It shouldn't come as news to anyone that the landscape of digital marketing has changed drastically with the rise of Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Vine and every other social network. This popularity gave rise to a whole new sort of celebrity: the influencer.

An influencer is a non celebrity with a strong following on social media. These people have more or less made a living off of cute selfies/funny memes/beautiful photography or really.. anything! Although many feel that having a strong Instagram following means nothing but that you have too much time on you hands, what brands have realized is that influencers have a much more engaged community then an A-lister. This makes their profiles goldmines for meaningful reach and engagement to people who trust these influencers opinions, as well as the products and services they use.

Here are few examples of my favorite campaigns using influencers:

1. Birchbox

Birchbox teamed up with Emily Schuman of the fashion blog Cupcakes and Cashmere to help market their product: a box of beauty samples delivered to your doorstep for $10 a month. With over 18,000 likes and a reach of over half a million customers, they were incredibly successful. Birchbox continues to use influencers in their marketing efforts, going as far as having "influencer takeovers" on Instagram, where fashion and makeup bloggers talk about their favorite products that they've discovered through Birchbox.

2. Bellagio Las Vegas: #UltimateVegas

Bellagio Hotels hand picked over 20 influencers to promote a contest to win a tip to their Las Vega location using on-site photos. The influencers were everyone from the largest travel influencer on Instagram, Beautiful Destinations, to Vine personality Amanda Cerny. Photographer Murad Osmann and his wife Natalia Zakharova also took part with the beautiful photograph below, which was shared with his 2.9 million followers on Instagram.

Over the 8 week campaign Bellagio's Instagram following grew by 100%, and engagement grew by 175%. Hard to argue with those numbers! Organic traffic to their website also doubled in their key markets in the U.S., Australia, U.K., and Mexico. 

3. Squarespace

Squarespace took a different approach to their influencer marketing and used Youtubers! A technique executed successfully by many other brands, notably Audible and Samsung. Squarespace teamed up with popular Youtubers who fit their target demographic and created short, sponsored videos like the one below. The niches they worked with were pop culture, learning, gaming and movies. A few of their top pics were Good Mythical Morning, Cinema Sins, Ray William Johnson, and Tyler Oakley.

To date the Squarespace sponsored videos have over 35 million views and a reach of 57 million viewers. This campaign was actually one of the ways I heard about Squarespace myself, so great job! 

Hooray for influencer marketing and data that drives results! 

Paris Hilton: Disingenuous or Ingenius?

Long before the Kardashians became America's sad new version of the Kennedys, came the woman who started it all: the one and only Paris Hilton. I personally credit Paris for all of the hilariously terrible things about reality TV in the early 2000's, and boy does she deserve it. But it's not her fake baby voice or shiny blonde weave that inspired me to write this. It's the fact that she has successfully exploited the human desire to feel superior to people who were "born lucky."

By putting her pride aside, she managed to create one of the most successful personal brands of all time. All because people want to believe she's stupid. 

Spoiler: we're the stupid ones.

Paris grew up in an environment that most of us can only dream about. Her great-grandfather started the Hilton Hotel chain and turned it into one of the most successful hotel chains in the world. As a teenager she began sneaking into clubs and modeling for Donald Trump's modeling agency, as well as making a few appearances in movies. By the time she was old enough to drink, she was a full blown socialite and the IT girl of the NYC club scene.

Paris never needed to try to go out and make a living, so why did she? 

The Simple Life began in 2003 (the same year the infamous "One Night in Paris" sex tape was released) and the entire concept of the show was to make Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie look stupid, because it was funny and they're rich. At this point reality TV was just really getting its footing, so people believed that there was actually some reality in these situations. The truth was that Hilton and Richie were playing characters and sleeping in hotels at night, while the families they used in their skits continued life as usual. 

This show marks the moment when I fell in love with Paris' business savvy and ability to manipulate the American public. She let us think that we were the ones getting the last laugh, while she laughed her way to the bank and then some. After The Simple Life stopped airing in 2007 Paris went on to sign huge endorsement deals, starred in (terrible) feature films, started her own record label, and "wrote" a book that had a comfortable stay on The New York Times bestseller list.

These days Paris spends her time DJing, vacationing, and being an international sensation. Although she's lost some attention from American audiences, Paris is bigger than ever in countries such as Japan and Brazil. She also recently got paid $300,000 dollars to make a guest appearance on a Danish television show, proving that our torrid love affair with Paris will never truly end. She also has an album in the works under Cash Money Records, which also boasts names such as Drake and Nicki Minaj on its roster.

If history is any indication, Paris is not going anywhere. I, for one, am incredibly happy that I have had the chance to watch this brilliant woman market herself into the mega star she is today. Most people in her position have taken the path of self destruction, but Paris put her inherited business insight to good work and created an empire in her own right. With a $100 million net worth, Paris will always be one of the richest and most successful marketers of our time.


5 Marketing Take Aways from the Trials and Tribulations of Justin and Miley

Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber have been household names since the first time the world heard them sing. We watched them progress from cute child stars created by the Disney machine, with a helping hand from YouTube, into the mega stars they are today. One of the most amazing aspects of these two stars is the strength of their personal brands. Starting out as wholesome role models and turning into boundary-pushing young adults can put a lot of stress on the teams that work so hard to create their $150 million+ careers.

So how did they do it?

The simple answer: killer PR and Marketing teams. Every blunder was met with a way to make money off of it and every high point was put on a pedestal. Through my extensive research (AKA my obsession with celebrity brands) I have found 5 major take aways from Justin and Miley that can help everyone create the strongest possible brand; be it for yourself or for your business.

1. Know your audience and treat loyalists as royalty

Cyrus and Bieber have two very different ways of going about making their fans feel special. Bieber is known for bringing a fan on stage at his concerts and singing his song "One Less Lonely Girl" to them, giving them flowers and ultimately making them cry like babies. He also known for reaching out to fans on social media, something that many celebrities do not do. Where as Cyrus has chosen to support her large LGBTQ fan base by starting The Happy Hippie Foundation, which aims to help homeless and LGBTQ youth. Both great ways to make fans feel special, but I think we have a clear winner with this one. 

2. Create a one-of-a-kind experience for customers

I'll let Miley speak for herself with this one. This video is from her Bangerz tour.

This is one of Justin Bieber's greatest marketing moves to date. A month leading up to the release of this song, Bieber posted a picture of various celebrities holding up signs that said, "Sorry X Days". When the video finally came out Bieber didn't so much as make a cameo, instead they let these incredible dancers do the work, and boy did they. This video has racked up over 700 million views since it came out about 3 months ago, making it his second most popular video to date.

3. Don't be afraid to change, but do it strategically 

One thing Miley and Justin have always had in common is their great hair. And more importantly, when and how they went about changing their beloved hairdos.

In 2011, Justin's team decided it was time for him to go from baby-faced child star to full on heart throb, he cut his hair and debuted it on the Ellen DeGeneres show, and then auctioned off a lock of hair for charity. This was a beautifully executed PR move that gave meaning to a meaningless hair cut. It also reintroduced Justin as someone who is quickly becoming an adult, without leaving his tween niche feeling like they are left in the dust.

Miley went about it a little differently, and it got her quite a bit of flack at first. In 2012, she chopped off her long locks unexpectedly and started sporting the short platinum cut we know and love today. This was during a time of personal troubles for Cyrus, as she called off her engagement and lost one of her pets in the same year. This hair cut gave birth to the wild and crazy Miley that we are experiencing these days, and thus launching her rebrand. 


4. Drink the Hateorade

Miley and Justin have had their fair share of bad press. From Miley being caught on camera smoking Salvia in 2012, to her raunchy VMA performance in 2013. Not to mention Bieber doing literally everything wrong in 2013: egging his neighbors house, driving intoxicated, drinking and using drugs while under age, street racing. You name it, he messed it up. Both celebs took the hate in stride; Miley decided to say f*ck it and do whatever she wanted, AKA her newest studio album Bangerz, while Justin got his ass handed to him in the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber.  Both came out the other side with even more fans than they had before, and not a dime lost in damages (except for the lawyer bills, that is).

Bad press is all about how you handle it, so take it from Miley and Justin and be able to make fun of yourself. Also, there is no shame in admitting you were wrong, but try to generate a more convincing apology then Bieber did at the end of his Roast.

5. Exposure and market saturation is key to a brands longevity

Can you even remember the last time you went more than a day without hearing one of these celebrity's names? Since the days of Hannah Montana and Radio Disney, Bieber and Cyrus never let us go too long without seeing something that relates to them. As long as we're still talking about them, they will continue to be the shining stars of personal brand strength that they are today. Long live Biebs and Smiley.