Gold Coast’s Mayde Towels breaks into North American market

Rooted in functionality, Gold Coast's Mayde evolves into North American market.

Mayde has been in the towel business for about five years. Founded on the Australian coast of Sydney, Mayde got its start years ahead of the category’s impending popularity and surge in brands venturing into that space.

mayde towels

Maid’s Turkish Towels veer away from trends and encapsulate classic styles.

Dreamed up inside Sylvia Hill’s family “rumpus,” or rec room, the idea for Mayde had been brewing for several years between Hill and her husband Tim, who worked for Surfstitch at the time. A mother to a young boy, Hill was at first skeptical of the concept of a towel business, but quickly realized it represented a huge opportunity.

“After looking further into that industry, it surprised me that there weren't more Turkish towels in the market place, especially on the Gold Coast where beach rules life,” Hill explains. “I loved them straight away and they became a staple in my beach bag, particularly when you've got children, and bags overflowing with so many other things.”

mayde towels

Mayde’s take on aprés beach: the Avalon Poncho.

After extensive research, Mayde was born, and received with great success in its home on the Gold Coast. Today, the company has begun making a bigger push in the North American market, and is also expanding its reach with a range focused on homegoods, as well as dipping its toes into coverups with a new poncho.

Mayde’s strategy remains the same -- “keep it simple,” even as it evolves with collaborations alongside several US-based brands, a strengthened North American rep force, and a presence at trade shows like Miami Swim Week, where we recently connected with Hill and checked out what’s new.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

mayde towels

Endless possibilities from a simple, yet sophisticated, product.

Why did you see an opportunity to create this type of product? In what way was the market lacking this?
Like I said, it surprised me that these fantastic light weight, fast drying, absorbent towels weren't everywhere on the coast – the pairing made complete sense and yet people were still lugging around big thick bath towels, or worse, cheaply manufactured terry towels that literally had no grace or style [laughs]. I can appreciate nice things and thought 'Why wouldn't that extend to my beach towels?' Since then, the Turkish towel market has exploded; however, we feel we were able to find our niche on the Gold Coast and that's what's kept us around.

What is the ethos of Mayde, compared to other similar brands on the market today?
We want to offer our customers a wide variety of products that don't cost the world – though Turkish cotton is exceptional in every sense of the word, we make sure we offer something for everyone. We actually don't follow trends so much as our own taste. We don't feel the towel and textile industry is as trend driven compared to fashion, and where it is, it's a fad -- so we try to keep away from that. We keep building, we don't pay attention to what other brands are doing on their social media, we just do our own thing and hope that we're making people's lives a little more colourful and a little lighter.

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What is the target demo for the brand? How, if any, has that changed or evolved?
Our core demographic is males and females aged 15-35, with a focus on the beach lifestyle. With our selection of products, our market extends to children (with our kids beach poncho) through to mature adults who can appreciate a fine hand loomed towel hanging in their bathroom. Our target demo for the brand hasn't changed, but we were able to recently extend it with the new addition of our Home catalogue.

What is the inspiration behind the latest collection? Can you talk about some of the new, innovative materials you are using to make the product stand out?
Our core product has always been beach towels, with the added bonus of the towels being versatile (you can use them as table cloths, wraps, gym towel, throws, picnic blankets, to travel with, etc.). My own passion for homewares opened us up to a whole new range of towels that we were ready to explore.

mayde towels

While the brand is exploring both home and beach collections, the diverse functionality of each product lends themselves to a wide range of uses.

Our new HOME collection features more textures and a more subtle and balanced colour scheme, with smokes, rusty reds and indigos taking center stage. We've also done a bit more stone washing throughout both the Beach and Home ranges, giving the towels extra softness and a bit more of a thrown-around look, which appeals to our male demographic.

We also decided to explore more of the one-sided terry towels, which people have responded to really well – they're perfect for those that just don’t quite trust using the really lightweight towels, but don't want to have the added weight of the thicker towels. They're the perfect balance of light weight with a bit of heft. Overall, what we're stoked with is although the two collections are quite different, there's definitely a crossover so beach can be used at home and home can be used at beach.

Talk about your retailers – who carries Mayde, and what is the breakdown regionally / by country?
We're pretty lucky that we have a whole bunch of great, supportive retailers, many of which have been with us from the start. With the Home range though, we imagine our retailers list will expand into a new market, which we're really excited about.

Regionally, the bulk of our accounts are in Australia (approximately 90%), but we've been supplying our products to retailers worldwide, such as the US (incl. Hawaii), Indonesia, NZ, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and even Spain and France. With the US now on our radar for expansion, we were excited to be included on Gwyneth Paltrow's 'goop' as well as Jenni Kayne, while keeping our hold on the smaller coastal and surf boutiques dotted on the East and West Coasts.

mayde towels

Although it is speaking to a wider audience with its HOME Range, Mayde says it will continue to stay focused on the smaller surf-lifestyle boutiques where it found its original niche.

We also recently exhibited at Hammock which is part of Miami Swim Week – this definitely opened up the doors to more new accounts throughout the US, Cuba, the Bahamas and even Brazil!

Are you making a bigger marketing / sales push in North America, and if so what does that strategy look like?
Yes, one hundred percent! We have our small team in the US who are absolute legends and hit the ground running for us a while back. They keep an eye on everything for us, opened us to new accounts or retail possibilities, as well as colabs which have been really exciting. Recently we've done some great collabs with Bear Coast Coffee in San Clemente, CA, and Lolli Swim's Miami Swim Week show, and previously with Captain Fin Co. With the new Home collection, we're hoping to start also targeting more homewares-related retailers, but also keep our presence in swim and beach outlets.

Most importantly, our strategy is to keep things simple, straight forward, and as grassroots as possible. When someone gets in touch with MAYDE, 99% of the time they will be talking to me -- sometimes I feel like I spread myself really thin [laughs], but I'm lucky that I have a small team of people around me that 'get’ the brand and understand where it needs to be pushed, as well as our limits.

Any plans to expand into other product categories, like with the intro of your ponchos? Anything else on the horizon that’s exciting you can talk about?
We love textiles and we plan to stay true to what we know, basically being experts in our field. We feel that's where we belong, so in terms of expanding, we will continue to do so, but keeping in line with our core products. Apart from the ponchos that have been added, we've also done some lambswool blend throws, and some more stonewashed beach blankets. But in terms of expanding into a whole new product offering, well, you'll just have to watch this space.


A look inside Miami Swim Week