How the luggage startup managed to thrive during the global pandemic.
Monos, which claims to be one of the first luggage brands to be climate neutral-certified, was launched in 2019. It has only grown more successful during the global pandemic, despite the fact that people can’t travel anywhere.
Launch of the business
Known as the “Apple of suitcases,” Monos is a travel start-up company that boasts high-quality carry-ons and check-in luggage. The company, started by three young Canadians Victor Tam, Hubert Chan and Daniel Shin, is inspired by the Japanese idea of “mono no aware,” the mindful appreciation of beauty in transience. This philosophy forms the basis of the brand’s conception: to encourage travelers to be fully in the present and greet the world with gratitude and graciousness.
Since its launch, the brand quickly became popular. Customers appreciate the timeless design, the high-quality craftsmanship and affordable price point of the products. Monos luggage is made from aerospace-grade German polycarbonate, which makes it durable and shock-resistant. It is also equipped with YKK zippers, Hinomoto Lisof Silent Run wheels and a multi-stage telescopic handle. The price is also affordable as they are sold directly to consumers, avoiding extra markups of traditional retail.
The founders also made sure to conduct their business in an environmentally sustainable way. The luggage products are made cruelty-free by using vegan alternatives instead of animal-derived materials. Products are also shipped efficiently to reduce carbon emissions. The company’s focus on eco-friendliness is one of the factors that sets it apart from its competitors.
Effects of COVID on the business
All is well until the first wave of coronavirus spread across the world. The company’s immense growth trajectory was severely affected by the global pandemic in March 2020. During the first two weeks of the pandemic, revenues dropped 90%. With the whole world going into lockdown, there were days with negative revenue recorded due to multiple customer returns and order cancellations.
However, the company was able to bounce back by cutting ad expenditure by 90% and cancelling their shared office space to cut down their costs. They also had a breakthrough by designing and introducing a new product called the Cleanpod UVC Sanitizer, a portable, chemical-free sanitizing wand that emits high-energy ultraviolet C to kill germs. The eco-friendly alternative to disposable wipes turned out to be extremely sought after at the height of the pandemic. Moreover, Monos leveraged its success to keep marketing its luggage products when all its competitors had given up. The company revenue soared and saw a 500% growth by the end of 2020.
In a way, the pandemic has forced Monos to expand and diversify. In September this year, the company introduced the Everywear clothing collection. The collection not only serves as travel wear for uncomfortable long-haul flights, but also as functional and classic everyday wear suitable for people who work from home. Monos is also launching a new line of backpacks and weekender bags next month to meet the current needs of those who aren’t allowed to travel far but still go on staycations within their countries.
Mono’s quick shift from a luggage brand to a lifestyle brand allows it to thrive at a time when no one is travelling. Its resilience and willingness to adapt is something that all companies can learn from.
Header image courtesy of Monos