Shay Mitchell’s DTC travel brand BÉIS leads with creative

Adeela Hussain Johnson, the president of BÉIS, explains the brand’s strategy, including its approach to social media and influencers, like its celebrity founder.
A graphic with a headshot of Adeela Hussain Johnson that says "Trend Talk with Adeela Hussain Johnson, President, BEIS."
  • DTC travel brand BÉIS built its brand by leveraging its relationships with influencers, including co-founder Shay Mitchell. 
  • Mitchell’s role has transformed since the travel goods company launched more than four years ago.  
  • BÉIS has no plans to open its own brick-and-mortar store anytime soon, but has partnerships to sell products through Nordstrom and Revolve, BÉIS President Adeela Hussain Johnson tells Retail Leader’s “Trend Talk.” 

The luggage and baggage industry in the U.S. is massive and growing — it’s expected to reach nearly $29 billion in revenue this year alone, according to Statista. By 2026, the category is anticipated to reach $30 billion in annual revenue. 

While the industry took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic when global travel came to a standstill, the luggage and baggage category made a strong rebound, as both work-related and personal travel resumes. One brand making moves in this category is BÉIS, co-founded by actor and influencer Shay Mitchell in 2018. 

Mitchell’s role in BÉIS has changed since the brand’s inception. She played a more meaningful role in the brand’s early days — acting as its voice — but that’s evolved, BÉIS President Adeela Hussain Johnson told Retail Leader’s “Trend Talk” podcast. Johnson said Mitchell always wanted BÉIS to stand on its own, with or without her.

“How reliant do you want to be on one person’s platform?” Johnson tells Retail Leader. “Shay has this megaphone — this stage that amplifies the voice of a brand. It also gives the brand some kind of personality, and consumers can relate to that. 

“Shay is an incredibly relatable person,” she added. “She’s got a great sense of humor. So, the benefits of having a celebrity partner and the benefits of having an influencer is you can use their platform and their stage, which is critical at the launch of any brand because you’re starting at zero. You get that megaphone, but then you have to decide strategically, as a brand, how focused you’re going to be on this one person versus generating a network of influencers or influence in general.”

Before launching BÉIS, Mitchell already had a following in the travel space, Johnson noted. The actor had a popular YouTube series called “Shaycations,” where she posted videos of her traveling to locations globally. This made her decision to launch a travel brand feel authentic and natural, Johnson said.  

But the brand has found success with influencers and social media stars beyond its famous founder. Mitchell in a 2022 interview with Page Six credited TikTok for helping to grow the brand in an “organic and playful” way. While social media platforms are always evolving, Johnson said they provide a way to showcase a brand. 

“I always say ‘content is queen’ in our world,” Johnson said. “We lead with content; we lead with creative. We’re bringing the world of fashion and function together in our product, and we take a very similar approach when we look at social media.” 

Johnson said BÉIS views TikTok as a “how-to” platform that allows it to organically showcase its products, while Instagram functions more like a book. BÉIS creative team, led by Mitchell, focuses on being authentic yet aspirational. “The fandom is real,” Johnson said, noting that the brand uses influencers and other social media fans to solicit feedback on things like design and new products.

BÉIS is a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand, but has partnerships to sell products through Nordstrom and Revolve. Unlike other popular DTC retailers (Warby Parker, Glossier, Our Place, etc.), Johnson says BÉIS has no immediate plans to open its own retail store. Instead, Johnson says the brand will continue to focus on pop-ups in retailers such as Showfields following its first pop-up last summer at The Grove in Los Angeles.  

“We’re going to be taking the learnings from that and doing very more of those,” she said.

Hear more about what BÉIS is working on by listening to Retail Leader’s full interview with Johnson. Subscribe to "Trend Talk" wherever you listen to podcasts.