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Tiffany Montgomery
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Mada brings on new partner and other news

By Tiffany Montgomery
July 17, 2008 6:44 AM

I spoke with Mada founder Vinnie De La Pena the other day to catch up on what's new with the brand.


Vinnie told me he has a new partner, Justin Bray. Justin grew up surfing in Orange County and has a sales background, Vinnie said. Justin bought out a previous, offsite partner with apparel experience outside the industry.


Vinnie said Justin works in the office everyday and is helping a lot. "It's been such a positive thing in so many ways," Vinnie said.


Despite the tough retail environment, Mada projects sales growth of 33 to 35 percent this year. The company beat its sales projections for spring, met them in summer and beat them for fall. The toughest season will be holiday, Vinnie believes.


A big boost to the brand is its signature athlete, Bede Durbidge, one of the top surfers in the world. Bede is being featured in several upcoming Mada events, including a surf series with Sun Diego where the winner gets to spend the day with Bede at Trestles.


As part of his agreement with Mada, Bede has the rights to develop Mada in Australia. Vinnie said a partner for Bede in the Australia operation will be announced in the next 60 days. The brand is expected to launch there by the end of the year.


Vinnie is also working on agreements to expand Mada in Japan and Brazil.


On the domestic front, Mada has created a line for fashion boutiques and skate shops with a boutique vibe that it is on the road selling. Overall, the company is still focusing on the specialty market. It did recently add one of the larger private chains, Tilly's, where Mada is in 12 doors, Vinnie said.


"Tilly has been a great partner to us," he said.


Vinnie is very excited about the 2009 spring product, which has more consistency within categories, he said.


"The product is finally where we want it to be," he said.


Mada has also revamped its internal operation. Vinnie is delegating more and allowing his team to take on more responsibility.


"It's a knock on myself - I was doing everything before," he said. "We can't succeed that way. We have many quality people who can handle things."


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