Melanie Mueller is the lead designer and creator of Mel Boteri, an upstart fashion house that produces a diverse line of personalized luxury accessories (and yes, by this we do mean deadly fabulous purses and rugged masculine wallets and satchels.) She is one of the participants in this years Fashion Week and we caught up with the stylish, driven young designer to talk about her line. Join us after the jump for more!
Melanie Mueller, founder and designer of Mel Boteri. Image by Deelite Photography
Melanie Mueller is Founder and Designer of Mel Boteri, a company specializing in custom accessories for both men and women. Driven by a lifelong desire to start her own fashion brand, Melanie followed a non-traditional path to enter the highly competitive world of style and design. Recognizing the advantage of having a strong business background in the fashion industry, Melanie graduated with a BBA from The University of Georgia and a MBA from Emory’s Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
As a graduate student, Melanie had the opportunity to work as a Marketing and Business Development intern for Zac Posen, a world renowned designer in New York City. The experience not only confirmed to Melanie that she was passionate about fashion, but her time in New York also reinforced her thoughts of a demand for custom luxury accessories, particularly in women’s handbags and shoes.
Mel Boteri was officially launched in the Fall of 2009 with a small collection of women’s custom design handbags, on the premise to provide a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. With its first showroom open in Atlanta, Georgia, Mel Boteri plans to bring a full line of custom, luxury accessories to markets both in the U.S. and internationally.
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!
MetroJacksonville's Drilldown Questionaire
Why? (existential. answer any way you want)
Mel Boteri is really a product of years of shopping frustration in a marketplace oversaturated with ‘one size fits all’ merchandise. As I personally struggled to find exclusive, yet sophisticated pieces which would meet my individual needs, I found that I was not alone in my efforts. I launched Mel Boteri to inspire individuals and retailers alike to express their personal style statement through one-of-a-kind pieces, and exclusive capsule collections.
Who are you designing for?
A quote that I absolutely love from the late Coco Chanel states “in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” I truly believe this to be true, so I design for the trendsetting man or woman with discerning taste who is confident to wear something as an extension of their unique personality and style rather than follow what may be common and trending.
image by Sarah Hannah
What fabrics do you like to use? Why?
As a luxury accessories brand, I am dedicated to using only the finest quality leathers, stones and other components in all of my handbags and jewelry.
Which designers are you inspired by?
Aside from her exceptionally classic designs that have stood the test of time, Coco Chanel’s modernist (sometime viewed as rebellious) views on fashion are a constant source of inspiration. As one of the first women to wear trousers in public, she was not afraid to be her unique self and in doing so has come to become one of the most iconic names in fashion.
image by Sarah Hannah
Where are you at in your career? What are your goals?
The majority of my current business is custom, one-of-a-kind pieces made for individual clients. I am now looking to build my distribution through relationships with the world’s top luxury boutiques and specialty stores with both my seasonal and capsule, exclusive collections. My goal is to become a household name for luxury accessories in the top ranks of international brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and of course Chanel.
What do you want Jacksonville to know about you?
I am very thankful and beyond excited to be a part of this exciting week in Jacksonville, and I cannot wait to meet your fashion community!!
To find out more about this chic and industrious designer, you can check Mel Boteri out at the following web locations!
From her website we found pretty great bags for women and men: