- Claire Kalikman
Laura Melendrez of Amor & Rosas: Celebrating Beautiful Clothes and the Women Who Make Them
Image via Amor & Rosas
Laura Melendrez SOM ‘16 joined the Women Entrepreneurs at Yale on October 28th for the final installment of our virtual fall Women Innovators Breakfast Series. She told us the unexpected journey she went on to discover her passion for creating ethical clothes that support artisan women. She created Amor & Rosas, an ethical luxury brand based in Mexico City.
Laura was born in Arizona, grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico, and has lived in Mexico City since 2012. She received a Bachelor's degree in Marketing from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and an MBA from the EGADE School of Business. She spoke about feeling unmotivated in previous jobs in pharmaceuticals and CPG companies and how she was looking for a change. She moved to New Haven for a Master in Advanced Management from the Yale School of Management and that’s where Amor & Rosas was born.
She participated in the Yale Entrepreneurship Institute, the predecessor to Tsai CITY, and received her first round of seed funding to work on the project. It was not an instant success, and Laura describes constantly needing to pivot and respond to what the customer actually wants. Her first collection for A&R focused on workwear, but it was not selling well and Laura conceded that she did not use the initial round of funding well. She started going to bazaars and doing pop-ups and that’s when she realized what was selling was casual-wear. She described how “people don’t really care about what they wear to work. They express their personalities with what they wear on the weekends and after work.” Laura focused on the items that were selling well, specifically hand-embroidered bomber jackets, and built the next collections to focus on off-duty clothes. Soon after, she received invitations to show at Austin Fashion Week and then Mexico City Fashion Week.
Image via Amor & Rosas
Even success brings challenges, though. Like most companies, Amor & Rosas had to close up shop when the coronavirus tore through the world in March. The brand had just finished producing their next collection, featuring fun skirts, when it became clear that no one would be going out and buying skirts. She made the tough call to cut the skirts up and transform them into masks. This nimble move was a smart one, as a TV station heard about what she was doing. Overnight, e-commerce orders went from the single-digits to the hundreds.
One aspect of the business that has been integral since the start is using the brand to uplift artisan women. A&R partners with women to hand-embroider their products. She is committed to paying them a living wage and A&R recently received its B Corp certification, a thorough process that certifies that the business is ethical in everything from fabrics to working conditions.
Laura spoke about how high-quality clothes made with care is the new standard of luxury. She informed the audience about choosing fabrics that are made to last so that garments can be treasured and worn for many years to come. Laura has embraced the slow-fashion model, which advocates fewer, better items (the opposite of fast fashion, whose goal is to produce as much as possible to be worn for a short period of time).
Amor & Rosas now has its own boutique and studio at Shakespeare 78 Anzures, Miguel Hidalgo, 11590 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico. For a limited time following the event, shoppers can use the discount code AMOR20 for 20% off orders.