I guess you could say that handbag design is in my genes. My maternal grandmother hand-knitted handbags and sold them in her small town of Calarcá, Colombia as a side project from her full-time teaching job. I was unaware of this fact until I had already launched Mel Boteri, and as fate would have it, I selected the brand name as a way to honor my rich heritage. Mel is short for Melanie, the German name my father gave me, and Boteri stems from my mother's maiden name, Botero.
My "aha" moment to begin my company happened while I was studying for my MBA at Emory University in Atlanta. As part of the program, I had the dream-come-true opportunity to work with the Marketing & Business Development group for Zac Posen in New York City. While I was soaking in all the excitement of living in the fashion capital of the world, and helping develop a world-renowned luxury brand I felt like there was something missing.
The abundance of one-size-fits-most (definitely not all), mass-produced designs in this shopping mecca would make you think that I would be able to find every last item I could possibly dream up, but this was not the case. I can remember several shopping excursions that ended with me feeling exhausted and defeated.
This frustration inspired me to change the way that shopping is perceived, and to create an experience that is driven by personal attention and relationships. I laid the groundwork for my business during my last semester at Emory, and officially launched the brand with my first collection of handbags in the fall of 2009.
I am proud to say that I have partnered with some of the world's biggest luxury brands, including Mercedes-Benz and Jet Senters Aviation to create both co-branded and private label accessories for a discerning and selective clientele. My work has been featured in:
In addition to entrepreneur, self-taught designer and Emory MBA, I recently added author to my resume. My "7 Secrets of Handbag Shopping" is the first of hopefully many bag guides created to provide an inside look into the fabulous world of handbags.
I'm looking forward to getting to know you, and helping you to discover and enhance your personal style. You can contact me directly at anytime with questions, feedback or simply to say hello by emailing Melanie@MelBoteri.com.