Fashion and design are in Melanie Mueller's blood. Her maternal grandmother hand knitted handbags and sold them in her tiny town of Calarca, Colombia -- a fact Melanie wasn't aware of until she launched her company Mel Boteri. Now Melanie proudly carries on her grandmother's legacy, designing custom, made-to-order fashion to help women around the globe express their personality and style.
Melanie had the "aha" moment to begin her company while earning her MBA at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. As part of the MBA program, Melanie had the opportunity to work with the Marketing & Business Development group for world-renowned designer Zac Posen in New York City. There she was, in the middle of the fashion capital of the world, and all she could find were one-size-fits-all, mass- produced designs that did not reflect who she was. Her frustration became the inspiration for Mel Boteri --the go-to luxury brand for custom and bespoke accessories. She laid the groundwork for the business during her last semester at Emory, and officially launched the brand with her first collection of handbags in the fall of 2009.
The brand's name is Melanie's way to honor her rich heritage. Mel is short for Melanie, the German name her father gave her, and Boteri stems from her Colombian mother's maiden name, Botero.
Mel Boteri has partnered with some of the world's biggest luxury brands, including Mercedes-Benz and Hideoki Bespoke to create both co-branded and private label accessories for a discerning and selective clientele.
In addition to entrepreneur, self-taught designer and Emory MBA, Melanie recently added author to her resume. Her "7 Secrets of Handbag Shopping" is the first of many bag guides created to provide an inside look into the fabulous world of handbags, while Mel Boteri's ezine, Best Dressed: Weekly Style Inspiration To Be YOUnique, has proven to be a source of style inspiration for women (and men) around the world.
what's in the name
Melanie's passion and love for design along with her motivation to become a success stems from her unique background and heritage. As a first generation American of Colombian and German descent, Melanie grew up to be influenced by two strong and quite differing cultures. Her Colombian mother was more the free-spirit, teaching Melanie to always be loyal to herself and others, to pursue all of her dreams, and to enjoy every moment of her life as if it were the last. Her father, an industrious German, instilled in her a high self-esteem, an intense desire to be successful, and accountability for the decisions she makes in life. These values are the foundation of who Melanie is today, and will ultimately be the foundation of what Mel Boteri will become. Mel Boteri therefore stems from Melanie, the name chosen by her father, and Botero, her mother’s maiden name. As fate would have it, soon after starting her line of handbags, Melanie came to discover that her maternal grandmother was also a handbag designer, hand-making fabric totes she would sell to neighbors, friends, and family in her small town of Calarca, Colombia. Turns out, it's ALL in the name!