I caught up with Mireia to get the inside scoop on her inspirations, aspirations and how she swapped finance for fashion…
LPA: You took a rather unusual route to handbag design. Tell me about that…
MLL: Yes, my route wasn’t the usual, I studied business and worked in management consulting for 10 years before I decided to change careers and launch Milli Millu. I always had a passion for fashion and design though and worked for some luxury goods brands as a strategy advisor, so there was a hint in there, but yes, not your typical journey into fashion…
LPA: Leaving a successful career in management consultancy for major companies to launch your own handbag brand in the middle of a global recession was a bold and pretty high-risk move, what made you feel so confident it would work out? Did you have a back up plan in case it didn’t?
MLL: You are right, looking at it that way it was probably not the most obvious decision! The economy was not in a great shape (still isn’t), but from a personal point of view it was the right time to launch Milli Millu. I had been thinking it about it for a long time, had done the business plan and all the background work required, so when I became pregnant with my first daughter and had to take time off work I thought now or never. I thought if I didn’t try it, I would always regret it. Also, launching a business in a recession has its advantages, suppliers listen to you despite being small and you get better terms.
LPA: Talk me through a typical day as Founder and Creative Director of Milli Millu… How greatly does it differ to your former career?
MLL: Very different, my former career was very analytical and running Milli Millu is mainly about the creative. My day is split between spending time with my daughters and running Milli Millu, it’s a juggling act I can tell you! I’m on my blackberry since I get up at 7, but I spend the early morning with my daughters and start to work at 9.30-10. My day is never the same, from designing new collections, to meeting the press, creating new marketing campaigns or meeting customers. I leave the office at 4.30 to be home by 5, then is cooking dinner, bathing and reading books until my daughters fall asleep at 7.30-8. I then take out my laptop to finish off things and prepare the day ahead. I’m a night person so I could stay up all night creating, but need to force myself to go to bed as we have two delightful alarm clocks who never sleep past 7!
LPA: What, in your opinion, sets Milli Millu apart from all the other luxury handbag brands out there?
MLL: The combination of contemporary designs, very high quality Italian and Spanish materials and incredibly practical interiors at an attainable price. Our aim is to create beautiful handbags that tick all the boxes, no compromises!
LPA: So you’ve got handbags sorted for life, what labels to you look to for the rest of your wardrobe?
MLL: I like to mix designer and high street. My favourite designer brands are Lanvin, Prada and Pringle which I combine with pieces from Zara and COS. I also love discovering new designers like Paper London and Edeline Lee
LPA: Where do you hope to see Milli Millu in five years time?
MLL: Being the handbag brand of choice of most smart and stylish women in the country
LPA: While you studied at Harvard Business School and are based here in London, you’re actually originially from Barcelona. What do you think of Spanish fashion?
MLL: Fashion is one of Spain’s strongest industries and I think that what the industry has achieved it’s pretty amazing. From democratizing fashion with brands like Zara and Mango to nurturing several designer brands with beautifully crafted and styled clothes, an example is Angel Schlesser, one of my absolute favorite Spanish designers.
LPA: What advice would you give to young women hoping to become entrepreneurs?
MLL: First, find a product that fulfils an unmet need, a product that has an edge different to everything else out there. Second, be open to new opportunities, don’t be afraid to reevaluate as you go along and third, determination, determination, determination.
Love Ella. X