Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with Amelia Mather, Founder and Creative Director of Boteh. With over two decades of experience working for some of Australia’s top fashion brands, Mather took the leap to launch her own brand in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020. Still in its early stages, Mather is involved in every aspect of Boteh from designing to production to shipping and more.
As the brand heads into its third year, Mather discusses with us about making the leap to start her own brand, her approach to business and what 2022 has in store for Boteh.
What was your favorite subject at school?
Design followed by sport.
What was your first job?
Cutting fabrics at a haberdashery store.
What made you want to enter the world of fashion?
All paths lead to fashion early on for me. A super stylish woman, my Yia Yia, had the most incredible wardrobe, I used to adore playing dress-ups with as a child. My other Grandmother was a talented dressmaker and made lots of our clothes and home furnishings and then my sister studied fashion also and I remember taking days off school to help sew crystals onto garments for her projects so I already knew I would love many aspects of being a fashion designer.
Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your brand?
When you are starting out as a designer you wonder how your style will develop, will it change or what will influence you next, but I soon realized that I had my own style all along and did not need to deviate to impress constantly. I’m at a comfortable place 20 years in, so Boteh was created as a brand that represents my love of creating color and print with wearable silhouette designs, evoking ease for years to come and importantly thoughtful production at every step of the way.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
That, I am still working on… It was working with so called ‘entrepreneurs’ that I found the confidence to step outside my comfort zone of the design room and take on all aspects of the business of Fashion. I had absorbed more than I thought over the years sitting in countless meetings when all I wanted was to be surrounded by fabrics designing.
What are the key elements of your role?
At the moment, everything! I am across everything, but slowly we are building up the dream team. We have amazing people in place to support our steady growth but I am still 100% designing and technically involved as it’s what I love most followed by image creation and marketing. I’m also loving the admin side; production, financials, logistics, it’s endless, so much goes into creating a fashion brand.
Talk us through your daily routine.
- 5.40am rise, circuit training and weights usually only twice a week.
- 7am Protein smoothie or Cappuccino if not exercising
- Get my 2 girls 3 & 5 years old ready for school and drop them off.
- 8am arrive at the studio (downstairs of my house for now)
- Ecommerce, Marketing & PR catch up with the girls
- 10am could be problem-solving from inventory management to shipping delays (the past 2 years has been full of challenges keeping us on our toes) or fittings with our garment technician, running over the timelines for samples etc. Also zooms with our consultants happen on certain mornings; covering digital strategy, email marketing, Art Direction, PR/Events.
- 12 noon Lunch, usually Tuna salad or Sushi or a Baguette from our local French café.
- Afternoons are usually for Models and stylists to pop in, if we have upcoming shoots or just studio design time to unpack DHL parcels filled with approvals, print strike-offs and sample swatches from our makers.
- 4pm Reformer Pilates or go for a run a few times a week.
- 5.30pm my husband picks up the kids and we cook dinner and have family time till 7.30pm when they go to bed.
- 8-11pm often back down to the studio to design when on deadline.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Learn as much as you can working for several brands, ask questions, seek out mentors and build the knowledge of running a business and establish your personal ethos. Also take note of what big mistakes not to make, of course, we learn from them but just to limit setbacks. Give yourself time and space to concept the brand and have clear intentions from the beginning, the rest falls into place if you prepare well.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I was once told ‘Keep your blinkers on’ and it has really stuck with me. I interpret it as just do your own thing and don’t worry too much about what everyone else is doing or saying you should be doing.
And what is the worst?
I obviously didn’t pay much attention as I can’t recall anything that has stayed with me.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Launching Boteh in October 2020 when the world was so uncertain. I was ready to launch the brand from a creative perspective but I almost didn’t. When we started to see cracks in the supply chain, especially with the struggles our makers were experiencing, it was scary but we had to press ahead, they had worked so hard with me to develop Boteh over the past 18 months that I couldn’t cancel the season when they already had many cancellations due to the state of the world. I then became determined to get the orders in for them. I was handling sales at the time so I was emailing buyers and trying to secure zoom showings, it was tough! when we were all locked down and no one could touch or feel the first Boteh collection. I don’t remember ever regretting it but I certainly remember the sleepless nights.
What are the future plans for your brand?
I’m moving to Europe for six months this summer to finally get Boteh in front of my customers for the first time! We are showing in Paris and New York through our Sales Agents Del Rainbow which is so exciting after no travel for over two years now. I’m also hoping to have some creative time to refresh with my family and see what comes next as we enter year three of Boteh. A store would be nice in the future, but we will need to find a studio that’s not my home first.
– For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram