An Interview With Mel Boteri

I’m talking bags again this week, although this time I’m chatting to Melanie, the gorgeous person behind the luxury handbag company, Mel Boteri.  Not only has she designed fantastic bags to die for, but she has written a bag guide providing an unique and exciting inside look into the fab world of handbags.  So, a big warm welcome to the blog Melanie:image

Hi! My name is Melanie Mueller, and I am the Founder and Creative Director of Mel Boteri.  My mission is to inspire women to discover their unique style and to express it confidently through luxury, one-of-a-kind custom and bespoke accessories.  

What inspired you start up your business? 

Shopping frustrations are what ultimately inspired me to start Mel Boteri.  There have been countless times where I envision something precisely as I want it – a dress, a piece of jewelry, a handbag – whatever it might be, and it would either be impossible to find the right size or the style simply did not exist. I felt stuck in the world of mass-produced fashion and wanted to make a change. Luckily these frustrations hit their peak while I was studying to get my Masters in Business Administration, so I was able to lay down the groundwork for my business during my last semester of school.

imageWhen choosing designs/styles/colours for your bags, do you go by popular styles, customer requests, fashion trends, your own tastes/needs or bits of all those?  

I believe keeping up with current fashion trends is part of my job so that I can intelligently consult with my clients.  However, I do not believe each trend is appropriate for every individual.  It is all about incorporating the elements that work for you, your body, and your unique personality and style.  That being said, when designing my bags it is a bit of everything you listed – trends, client requests, my own taste – that directs the look and style of the finished bag.

You launched your brand in 2009, how did you come up with your brand name, Mel Boteri? 

The name came to me over a few glasses of wine with my parents.  As a first generation American (my mother is Colombian and my father German), it was important for me to incorporate my family heritage into the name.  Mel therefore stems from the German name my father gave me, Melanie, and Boteri stems from my mother’s maiden name, Botero. Oddly enough, soon after starting my business I discovered that my maternal grandmother also designed bags, which she hand-knitted for family, friends and neighbors in her small town of Calarca, Colombia. I guess I was destined to have this fabulous job.

To date, what has been your most popular bag ordered from your repertoire?

That is difficult to say since the majority of my orders are customized to the particular needs of each client, but most recently I have noticed the ‘Blake’ style to be quite popular.  I believe it is the perfectly-sized everyday bag, holding all of your essentials without looking or feeling too bulky.

imageI love your handbags, especially from your latest collection the cobalt blue “Sayde”shoulder bag with its gorgeous turquoise suede lining. What gave you the idea to line in suede?

Mel Boteri has evolved quite a bit from its inception until now, but one thing that has never faltered is the dedication to quality.  To me, suede was the most luxurious lining option against the fine Italian exterior leathers.  Lambskin lining is used in our new line of exotics, but the turquoise (my favorite color) is signature across the board.

imageOut of all the items on your website,what is or has been your favourite?

My favorite would have to be the ‘Boteri’ tote.  This was the second handbag I ever designed (the first being the ‘Mel’ hobo), and so it is the most representative of my personal style.  

Mel Boteri has partnered with luxury brands including Mercedes-Benz and Hideoki Bespoke to create both co-branded and private label accessories for a discerning and selective clientele.  If you had the chance to design a handbag for any famous lady in the world (living or dead) who would you like to see flaunting your handbag? 

Hands down Jennifer Lopez (I hope she sees this)!!  Even before Jennifer became as popular as she is today with all of her music, movies, and especially American Idol, I have always looked to her as a style icon.  She is the epitome of a confident woman, who knows how to take a trend and make it her own to flaunt her best assets.  I would LOVE to see what kind of handbag she would customize!!

imageAll your handbags on your website can be customised with a choice of leathers and hardware. What has been the strangest or most memorable bespoke handbag request you’ve received?

The most unique handbag I have created to date was a patchwork version of the ‘Cynthia’ tote.  I love a good challenge, so it was also one of the most exciting ones to bring to life.  

You’ve written the first of many bag guides planned, “7 Secrets of Handbag Shopping”, created to provide an inside look into the fab world of handbags.  With secrets including how to learn to select a handbag that will best flaunt your body, what are the most popular handbag mistakes you feel that ladies make?

To me, the most prevalent mistake women make is carrying a handbag simply because it is the current “It Bag” or because all of her girlfriends are coveting the same style.  A handbag, just like any other piece of fashion, should be personal and a representation of your unique style.  Bag Servant, one of my favorite sites for scoping out what’s new in the world of handbags, has a fabulous tool where you can shop by personality.  A “Vintage Queen”, for example, should not be carrying the same handbag style as the “Boardroom Perfectionist.” Once woman make this switch and begin to discover their personal style, they will look and feel much more confident.

imagePersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing? 

I have a saying, “when all else fails, wear black and accessorize,” and with my hectic schedule, I often find myself doing just that!! Depending on the day, my shoes will either be part of the “all black” of my look or more of an “accessory” in leopard-print or a pop of color.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I cannot get enough of Net-A-Porter.com.  They literally have something for every fashion mood that comes my way – classic, trendy, sporty, girly, you name it and you can find a beautiful version of it on Net-A-Porter.com!!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am a huge fan of Tamara Mellon, not only for what she created with Jimmy Choo, but more so for her innovative approach to business and the fashion industry specifically.  I am dying to get my hands on few of her #BuyNowWearNow shoes and clothing.  

Boots or Shoes?

It really depends on the season. During fall and winter, you won’t see me in anything other than boots, and in warmer months my go-to are strappy, platform wedges.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Mel Boteri

Sure!! Readers can follow me and Mel Boteri on the following sites:

Website – www.MelBoteri.com

Download “The Bag Guide” –http://shop.melboteri.com/pages/7secrets

Facebook – www.facebook.com/melboteri

Twitter – www.twitter.com/melboteri

Instagram – www.instagram.com/melboteri

Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/melboteri

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+MelBoteri

It has been great chatting to you Melanie – your bags are fantastic and I’m a big fan already.  I’m sure you’ve inspired a lot of my blog readers to check out your wares too!

Linda x

Photo Credits: Photos have been published with kind permission of Mel Boteri

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