In an era where e-commerce seems to dominate, there are still those who value and uphold the experience of traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.
Among them stands Martha, a company with a mission to bolster local surf shops. Its founder and CEO, Pedro Roisman told me that for the headwear brand “eschewing e-commerce was a deliberate decision rooted in our commitment to supporting local communities and preserving the integral human element of retail, which we believe cannot be replaced by online transactions.”
In our discussion, Pedro offered an insightful look into the journey that led to the creation of a brand that is committed to the revival of in-store shopping. From forging partnerships with like-minded brands like Patagonia and NotCo, to navigating the challenges of sustainability, I appreciated Pedro's perspective on the possibilities and trends of retail in our changing world.Pedro Roisman: The concept of Martha was born out of a deep-rooted passion for both retail and sustainability. Having grown up in a family involved in retail, I had an innate understanding of its inner workings and potential. However, I also saw the negative environmental impacts often associated with this industry. Martha is my attempt to harmonize my love for retail with a profound commitment to sustainable practices. I firmly believe that businesses have a significant role in mitigating environmental issues, and Martha embodies this belief.
Marquis: Can you say more about your decision to eschew e-commerce?
Roisman: Eschewing e-commerce was a deliberate decision rooted in our commitment to supporting local communities and preserving the integral human element of retail, which we believe cannot be replaced by online transactions. Traditional retailers have played an instrumental role in shaping lifestyles, specially in the surfing, skateboarding, and outdoor culture. These shops have been places of exchange, learning, and camaraderie - a central hub for communities. I, like many surfers, vividly remember the comfort and joy I felt when I bought my first surfboard at my local surf shop. It's these formative experiences that we aim to preserve and champion. Moreover, our approach also reduces the carbon footprint associated with shipping, thus aligning with our sustainability goals.
Marquis: What sets Martha's products apart in the retail market? Could you share more about your commitment to using at least 80% recycled materials in all products?
Roisman: Our products are unique not only because of their design and quality but also due to our commitment to sustainability. Every product we create is made from at least 80% recycled materials, which underlines our dedication to environmental preservation. Additionally, it is a core tenet of our business to ensure that these sustainable products are accessible, not a luxury. We strongly believe that affordability is key to making sustainable choices the norm, rather than the exception. This commitment to offering fair pricing, without compromising our eco-friendly principles, is a tangible reflection of our belief in 'doing well by doing good.'
Marquis: Martha's success has been tied to its partnerships with well-known brands like Patagonia and NotCo. How did those collaborations come about an do they contribute to Martha's mission?
Roisman: Our collaborations with Patagonia and NotCo came about through shared values and a common vision for a sustainable future. These companies are leaders in their respective industries and have been inspirational in their commitment to the environment. These partnerships are not just about co-branding; they are a testament to the growing industry recognition of our sustainable ethos and mission.
Marquis: As the CEO of a B-Corp, can you discuss the challenges and rewards of running a B-Corp business, and how do you balance the economic needs of a growing business with a strong commitment to sustainability?
Roisman: Running a B-Corp certainly has its challenges, especially in an industry often driven by profit margins. However, the rewards far outweigh these. We've been able to build a business model that aligns profit with purpose, and this has been both inspiring and motivating. As for balancing economic needs with sustainability, it is indeed a delicate act. We believe that with innovative thinking and a genuine commitment, it is entirely possible to achieve both.
Marquis: Martha plans to expand into the European market by 2024. What are the strategies for making this transition successful?
Roisman: Our expansion strategy is global and holistic. The strategy into Europe relies on careful market research, creating partnerships with distributors and local retailers who share our values, and ensuring our supply chain aligns with our sustainability goals. While our immediate focus is on successful integration within the European market, we're already looking beyond, setting our sights on broader horizons. Martha is planning to establish a presence in Canada, Latin America, Japan, and Australia in the coming years. Our mission is to lead a global retail renaissance, making our mark on every continent while championing sustainability and local communities.
Marquis: What are the key lessons you've learned since the launch of Martha in 2022, and how will these lessons influence the brand's future?
Roisman: One of the key lessons we've learned since launching Martha is the importance of staying true to our mission, even when faced with challenges. This focus has enabled us to build strong relationships with partners, customers, and communities. Moving forward, these lessons will serve as a compass, guiding us to innovate while staying committed to our vision of sustainability and support for local communities.