For stylish, smart and – dare we say it – practical handbags, Milli Millu is our go-to and for a good reason. Its founder, Barcelona-born designer Mireia Llusia-Lindh, spent years as a Management Consultant before noticing a gap in the market for multifaceted bags and then launching her label.
We spoke to the Harvard Business School graduate to find out more about her journey from corporate high-flyer to fashion entrepreneur and the lessons she has learnt along the way...
What were you doing before you launched Milli Millu?
I advised large corporations (in the Energy, Luxury and Private Equity sectors) on strategy issues as a Management Consultant for Bain & Company in London. I had thought about launching Milli Millu for a while, but it wasn’t until I had my first daughter and wanted to take a break from work that I decided to take the plunge.
Had you always wanted to go into fashion?
I’ve always loved fashion but I didn’t have the ‘calling’ until later in life. I studied Business and enjoyed my years in Management Consulting very much. It wasn’t until my late 20s that I became really eager to start something from scratch. I wanted to do it in a creative industry I was passionate about so fashion seemed natural. I thought if it didn’t work, I could always go back to what I was doing before, but I’ve never looked back.
What was it you wanted to achieve with the brand?
I wanted to create handbags that ticked every box: that were contemporary, functional (each bag includes our signature interior, designed to let you carry your laptop/iPad, papers, smartphone and more) and luxurious yet attainable. Also, for every bag we sell Milli Millu funds a set of lifesaving vaccines and treatments aimed to save the life of a child in need. We work in collaboration with orphan charity SOS Children’s Villages and it's a cause that is very dear to my heart.
What are your bestsellers?
The Zurich and Midi Zurich are two of our classics, but new ones are being born all the time and The Berlin is one of this season’s stars.
It's great to see your bags on a number of celebs, but what kind of real women buy into the brand?
Whether she is a lawyer, doctor, entrepreneur or actress living in London, New York or Sydney, the Milli Millu woman knows what she wants and has high demands. Above all she is that woman we all know who shines without trying too hard.
What tips do you have for women looking for a career move?
If you don’t love what you do, change it! You might not be able to do it straight away, but work on creating the path that will take you there. Life is too short and you will be more successful and much happier if you do something you love.
What are your top tips for writing a stellar business plan?
Have a product that meets an unfulfilled need, have a very clear sense of who your core customer is and don’t spend too much time on creating the perfect projections, start selling instead!
How does working for yourself compare to working for a huge corporation?
They involve different types of stress, but I love being my own boss, among other things because it allows me to have full flexibility over my schedule, which is vital for me as I have had three children since deciding to launch Milli Millu.
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever been given?
“The best entrepreneurs are not those that take the most risk but those who manage it best” – I heard that at business school. It made me realise that, despite not being a natural risk taker, I could become a successful entrepreneur. I would advise everyone to do something they are passionate about.
Forget about reading a specific book and go talk to as many entrepreneurs as you can. The best advice comes from people who have been on the same journey, before you.
How do you stay focused and passionate season after season?
I love the creative part of my job. It’s exhilarating to come up with new ideas and develop them with the rest of the team.
What's next for Milli Millu?
To continue to grow online sales. We currently sell to over 30 countries, with the UK being the largest market, followed by the US, and I'd like to hopefully raise the funds to open stores in a couple of years when my three children go to school and I have a bit more time on my hands.