Neon stripes, splashy flowers and psychedelic tie-dye prints on your workout wear might not make your more fit, but might make your workout more fun. And that’s why women around the world – including celebrity customers such as Paris Hilton — have turned the small kibbutz-based Margarita Activewear into a success story without any advertising at all.
“We use a lot of colors, not like classic Adidas or Nikes,” says Dorit Zimmerman, who founded Margarita in 2002 with her spouse, fellow aerobics instructor Gerardo Clavijo. “It’s not for everybody. Not all girls and women like to wear strong colors and designs, but this is what makes us different.”
Margarita now employs 18 people and sells around 2,500 items a month – yoga pants, tights, capris, shorts, skirts, jackets and bra tops – online and through retailers in the United States, Canada, France, England, Asia and Lichtenstein.
The business started out in Israel and spread globally only through word of mouth, Zimmerman tells ISRAEL21c.
“During the second Lebanon war [in the summer of 2006], we were closed because our kibbutz is near the border, but a girl from Canada saw our stuff in a store in Tel Aviv and asked the owner to give her my number,” she relates.
“I was in the South, in the Arava, trying to sell our line, and this girl came to the Arava and bought 40 or 50 items to bring home and sell. Then someone from New York saw our stuff. And then a few years later we had a good customer in San Diego that has an interesting website for aerobic sportswear, and all his competitors saw Margarita there and contacted us. That’s how it grew. We really never did a big push on Facebook.”
Geography inspires creativity
Zimmerman is a 13th generation Israeli living in Uruguay when she met and married Clavijo 24 years ago. After 18 years in South America, Zimmerman was eager to come home, and she and Clavijo – who speak to one another in Spanish — decided to move to Kibbutz Saar in the Western Galilee.
Using two sewing machines, they began designing and sewing exercise apparel branded Margarita.
Zimmerman explains that their first instinct was to call the company Oxygen, but they didn’t like how that sounded in either English or Hebrew (chamtzan). Drawing on his background in graphic design, Clavijo came up with a logo picturing a daisy (margarita in Spanish) with the letter O in the center of the flower and a little number 2 to the right of the petals – a creatively different way of depicting O2, the chemical symbol for oxygen.
Given her affinity for flowers, it’s not surprising that Zimmerman’s favorite design in the Margarita line is accented with bold daisies. “That style is very typical of us; like our logo, with a lot of colors.”
Attention is lavished not only on the graphics but also on construction. Margarita garments are all made of “very good quality Supplex that doesn’t lose its color and wicks sweat away from the body. The quality is very important to us,” says Zimmerman.
Over the past decade, Margarita has doubled its rate of production every year, added a line of items for girls, and claims customers on five continents. The company now has a large space on the kibbutz to accommodate about 50 sewing machines.
Zimmerman says their location – surrounded by the Carmel mountain range and the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea – inspires their imagination.
“It makes us proud to know that today one can see women in the streets of Singapore, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Sydney or Paris dressed with Margarita’s fabulous design,” Zimmerman says.
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