Young entrepreneurs hoping to find a niche in the lingerie market should borrow a page from the business plan of Miel.
The five-year-old Montreal label has built a devoted customer base by following that old business school adage: do one thing, and do it well. In other words, keep it simple, sisters.
Miel (French for ‘honey‘) produces a small range of stretchy, figure-hugging undies that are popular in gyms, yoga studios and dance classes and which double nicely as daily underwear too.
And while some brands look to broaden their customer base every season by expanding their offerings, Miel does the opposite. It sticks to six ‘essentials’ (three bottoms, three tops) and introduces new colors twice a year to give its breathable, moisture-wicking undies some zing.
Miel stays focused by concentrating on what it calls the ‘6 S’s’ that define the brand: simple, smooth, sexy, stretchy and supportive.
The sixth ‘S’ stands for “sisters” — which is fitting given that Miel was founded by Colombia-born sisters Camila and Valeria Velandia.
“We’re focusing on doing one thing perfectly, and making sure we’re the best at it,” Valeria told Lingerie Talk. “Miel is not shapewear, it’s the opposite. It moves with you.”
That may sound like a simple formula for success, but Miel also has a powerful secret weapon — a promotional ‘brand ambassador’ who conveys the brand’s ethos with astonishing effectiveness.
More than a year ago, the Velandia sisters serendipitously met Quebec circus artist Angela Kim (above), leading to a partnership made in marketing heaven.
“We first met Angela at a pilates class,” Camila said. “We were amazed by her incredible flexibility and capacity to move her body like rubber. We offered to give her a sample of our line … [and] from there on it was mutual love.
“We then asked for a testimonial. She not only raved about the comfort, beauty and easiness of Miel, but proposed to endorse the line. We jumped at the idea.”
The mega- and multi-talented Angela is a rare performer who works as a contortionist, aerialist, tissu sky dancer and — imagine this! — an aerial figure skater. After meeting Camila and Valeria, she posed for the spring 2012 photo shoot that showcases both Angela’s unique form and Miel’s product line. If you’ve ever doubted whether your undies could stand up to your active lifestyle, these images should put those doubts to rest.
“Being very active in my profession, I am always looking for the proper undergarments,” Angela told Lingerie Talk. “What makes Miel’s underwear unique is the simple, sleek and sexy look. It is lightweight and functional — perfect under tight costumes and performance wear. It is comfortable to wear and feminine in its design, which is an important combination.”
This kind of synchronicity between a fashion label and its model is seen a lot in sportswear and even swimwear, but less often in the underwear industry (David Beckham notwithstanding), where it’s easy to find good body to show off your goods but harder to find a model whose lifestyle expresses the brand. (Another exceptionally good marketing fit: the Vancouver brand Vivvos signed national beach volleyball team member Leah Allinger to front their active beach and undies label.)
Miel couldn’t be happier with the arrangement.
“Angela is a modern woman,” Camila said. “She is on the go, she travels, she trains, she performs, she lives a healthy lifestyle. She needs something that breaths and moves with her. Miel is perfect for her lifestyle.
“Each one of our pieces has been developed to complement the modern woman’s busy schedule. We create what we believe are the 6 essentials for everyday, all-day underwear.”
Miel’s product range is also a fairly cheap indulgence, with prices ranging from $18-45. You can look for their distinctive countertop displays in specialty boutiques, spas, yoga studios and clothing stores across North America.
[CREDITS: B&W photos by Tomas Karwowski, courtesy Angela Kim. Color photos courtesy Miel.]