Maris Equi: Making Waves in Men’s Swimwear

| By Sarah Jester

Why should your LGBT-owned business join the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce? For Rian Ismadia and Matthew Chess, co-owners of men’s fashion house Maris Equi, the answer was simple.

“We joined the NGLCC because we wanted to be part of an organization where we can be with like-minded people,” said Ismadia. “We want to be a big organization that can be a workplace for people of the LGBTQ community and other diverse groups because we know what it's like to be discriminated against and want to be a positive force in this world.”

Before becoming inspired to found their business in 2018, Chess worked as a realtor and Rian was a manager at a large retailer. Now, the two work together to make their fashionable dreams come true. Columbus, Ohio-based Maris Equi specializes in lines of men’s swimwear and beachwear for men of all shapes and sizes. Every day, Ismadia and Chess work to normalize swim briefs and encourage men to celebrate their bodies through their fashion house.

“We often hear or see men who wear swim briefs be ridiculed because of what they wear or how they look and we are here to change that,” Ismadia explained. “After all, life is too short to be spent in dorky boardshorts!”

Maris Equi, which is in the process of becoming NGLCC-certified, designs and develops all of its products locally. When asked what was unique about the business, Ismadia cited Maris Equi’s prints and environmental conscience.

“We design our own prints and incorporate our logo in most of our designs,” he said. “We are environmentally conscious so we use bamboo blend fabric for our underwear line. We are proud of who we are, our beliefs, and what we stand for.”

Last year, Maris Equi was selected as a featured designer at the 2019 Fashion Week Columbus Finale Runway Show. They were also invited to showcase their upcoming collection at 2020 Miami Swim Week.

“We are proud for being able to showcase our collections at two major fashion shows,” said Ismadia. “We are very pleased and grateful for how well our company is being received by the public.”

Over the next few years, Maris Equi seeks to be a part of more fashion shows and to increase their name recognition in the men’s swimwear and beachwear industry, as well as to have their products be sold nationally through major retailers. Ismadia and Chess offered valuable advice for aspiring LGBT entrepreneurs looking to start their own business and achieve similar goals.

“Go to community gathering, attend events, and expand your network,” they said. “You are not alone in this process. At times it might seem like you are not going anywhere and you feel like you are just sinking in the sea of businesses, don't give up! Take small meaningful steps. Even big companies go through the same thing you do.”

Click here to learn how to become a Certified LGBTBE® supplier!
For additional ways to help you, your business, and the LGBT community during this time, visit the NGLCC COVID-19 Resource Hub for the LGBT Business Community.