Founders Lara and Julie have created a beautiful ethical fashion brand made from high-quality, soft, organic cotton – better for the environment, better for local farmers and better for the skin. AmaElla manufactures all products ethically and is backed by experts with previous experience at Alexandra McQueen, Tom Ford and DKNY.
The two met whilst studying for a Masters in International Marketing and Communication in Madrid. Collaborating on a L’Oréal Brandstorm competition. Making it through as finalists, it became clear they shared a common interest and a common frustration in how the fashion industry was built. They also found they shared a complimentary skill-set which would allow them to build an entrepreneurial venture around these frustrations.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what you were up to before AmaElla
Lara: Prior to my Cambridge MBA, I worked in Marketing in Consumer Goods and e-commerce. During my year at Judge Business School at University of Cambridge, I got very inspired by the entrepreneurial atmosphere in this city. That inspiration drove me to look further into our initial business idea.
Julie: I have worked in Consumer Goods and Fashion in purchasing and marketing roles. Being in charge of sourcing garments and building collections made me realize that I want to find a better way of doing fashion.
Q: What was the dream when setting up AmaElla?
As consumers, we’re both very mindful of health, ethical and style concerns. We got talking about our frustration at being unable to find organic cotton lingerie that looked elegant. Whilst there are brands offering stylish non-synthetic clothing, none seemed to be developing stylish non-synthetic lingerie, the layer we wear closest to our skin.
The issue is that synthetic materials, commonly used in lingerie, hold moisture close to the skin, increasing the likeliness of infection. To avoid these problems, dermatologists and skincare experts recommend cotton to guarantee good skin perspiration and breathability, yet the organic cotton lingerie on the market lacked appeal to style conscious consumers.
That chance conversation became the basis of our business idea. After been frustrated with the limitations of choice regarding cotton lingerie, we decide to launch our own brand.
Q: Tell us more about your social impact angle and why you’re encouraging people to be more involved with conscious purchases.
Our objective is to provide more sustainable and ethical options when it comes to wardrobe choices. Sustainable fashion is about fostering your personal style without comprising your personal values.
Fashion is the second most polluting industry; only after oil and cotton is the dirtiest crop of earth.
Surely there is something we can all do about this, and every action, regardless of the magnitude counts.
There are many ways to make a fashion statement and we believe that more ethical choices should be available to consumers.
Q: Why social entrepreneurship VS conventional business?
We share a common value about business existing not only for private profit. We believe business should create value, and the definition of that value should extend to our health, our society, and the environment.
We consider stakeholders, customers, workers, and communities, in the business as important as any other interest group. Feeling accountable to the environment in which operates we thrive to deliver the best product to our customers.
Q: What is the motivation behind your crowdfunding campaign?
We are raising £10,000 to finance our first production run. The idea behind crowdfunding is that we share our idea and prototypes with potential consumers and if they like it they can pre-order our product. After reaching the funding goal, we collect the money from those pre-orders and manufacture the garments. Then after a few months, we will ship the final product.
It is quite an interesting idea to involve consumers quite early in the process rather than manufacturing something and then offering it to the market. It is beneficial in the sense that it gives us some market validation and minimizes the risk of the product not selling afterwards. In addition, it also helps us finance the advancement for suppliers before the final product is manufactured.
The only challenge is to reach your audience when you have no funds for marketing activities. That is the key success point of crowdfunding campaigns I believe.
Q: What is the one thing you wish people had told you before you started your entrepreneurial journey?
Nothing I could have heard it would have changed anything we have done. When you are about to start your own company you receive many messages, some of them are encouraging and most of them are very discouraging. I think most of the learnings we have had has been because we tend to reflect on things and we take it as a process.
We are continuously evolving and discovering things, so there is no set path or success formula that can work for everybody. What it is true is that you need to be very resilient, which is a good attitude to have in life anyway. It is important to pick yourself up and keep trying and learning. It is very likely that many things go wrong, but the advantage of a start up is usually being very flexible and able to pivot and react quickly.
Q: Any advice for people who want to have a social impact but are reluctant in making the jump?
I would ask them first why are they reluctant to “make the jump”, what’s stopping them? It can seem a trivial thing but it is not. It is worth reflecting on your personal motivations and deterrents. At the end of the day, businesses are people, and you as an entrepreneur are going to be an important asset in the company.