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How Shay Mitchell Grew Travel Brand Béis

Despite building products meant for distance travelers, Béis still beat its own sales projections to hit triple-digit growth in 2020.

Twenty-twenty posed challenges to even the most esteemed brands, let alone a year-old travel brand.

Béis, which was founded by actor Shay Mitchell in 2018 in partnership with Beach House Group, the incubator behind Florence By Mills, grew triple digits in 2020 despite travel restrictions and moratoriums. The brand’s chief executive officer, Adeela Hussain Johnson, said the L.A.-based brand, credits its success to rethinking travel products.

“Something that held us in good stead and helped us be really successful over the past year, and this is something that’s very near and dear to Shay as well, we wanted to redefine travel, and we didn’t feel that travel had to be that you’re getting on a plane and going to this faraway destination. You’re traveling when you’re going to work, or when you’re going to the gym,” Johnson added.

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The brand’s rollers took a backseat to its debut products, like its shoulder bag, which Johnson affectionately called a “mobile office piece. If people’s lives are anything like mine, I have my kid’s school desks in the same room as my work desk, so any time I had an important meeting, I had to go to a different room,” she said. “Our work totes did really well, our messenger bags did really well, and are continuing to do so.”

As consumers felt more comfortable taking weekend trips, overnight bags also began seeing a lift. “Those have been our top-selling items, so that didn’t change. You don’t necessarily need an enormous 29-inch roller,’ Johnson said.

The brand’s shift in messaging to smaller, hands-free options was an instantaneous decision between Johnson and Mitchell, they each said. “Social media is something I take a lot of ownership over, usually planning everything out a lot in advance,” Mitchell said. “But last year threw so many curve balls that it was really just about being nimble and strategically reactive to what was going on as a business practice in general.”

The company’s social media strategy did a fair amount of shapeshifting. “The pandemic was the big cloud over the year, but there was racial injustice, social and civil unrest, and political upheaval. We felt very early that we had an obligation on the platform. We have to stand up and speak up, we can’t be quiet in times like this because we believe in transparency and authenticity,” Johnson said.

“We absolutely use social media the way we had previously, to have a connection and dialogue with our consumer, to showcase our brand, but we also used it to showcase opinion” Johnson continued.

Mitchell remained optimistic about a rebound. “The function of travel has definitely changed, but from a philosophical perspective, travel will remain much the same,” she said. “People travel because they want to explore. They will continue to get on planes, but maybe they are going to wipe their seats down, or not use the seatback on the plane, or think twice about stacking their clothes in the hotel dresser.”

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