POWER WOMEN WEDNESDAY – Maj-La Pizzelli
Maj-La Pizzelli is one of the most experienced fashion names in Sweden. In this interview we talk about her brand ATP Atelier, on how, with her experience the fashion industry has evolved over time and what the biggest challenges is that the fashion industry faces today. If you ever thinking about starting your own label, this is the go to woman.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I started working in a fashion store when I was 16 years old and I’ve been in the industry ever since. I’ve been working for many Swedish labels such as Gul & Blå, I was Product Director at Filippa K for 13 years and I’ve been running my own consultancy business for many years helping fashion brands with strategies, assortments and so on. The last couple of years I’ve been running my own label ATP Atelier where we do high quality leather shoes and bags.
How did the idea with ATP Atelier come up?
It developed itself in many ways. I knew when I was young that I someday wanted to do my own thing but at that time I didn’t know exactly what. Over the years and with my experience I came to know that there was a gap in the market for being specialized in high quality shoes and bags. Brands are usually focusing on the clothes and shoes, and accessories comes at second hand. So, we thought, what if we do it contrary and start with the shoes and bags as the core product? We decided to start small with leather goods and do only sandals in the beginning. Our plan was to have a Scandinavian design, handmade in Italy with an affordable price strategy in sustainable materials.
Working in the Fashion industry for a long time it must have changed over the years. In which way have you seen it evolve over time?
In the 80’s when I started there was no such thing called “Fashion Industry”. Only a few brands existed. No one talked about sustainability, that was something boring from the 70’s. And then of course we have the digital development. For small brands that is crucial. For example, Net-A-Porter found us on Instagram.
What is the biggest challenge the Fashion industry faces today?
That we over consume. We are throwing away 13 kg textiles per year/person. This is a problem because since “fast fashion” exists, people don’t think about what they are buying. They buy because they can. We are getting fed with things to buy online and in some way, we have become addicts in consuming from an already overcrowded internet.
To start a fashion label is not easy and it costs a lot of money. With your experience over the years, what is your top 3 recommendations to become a successful company?
Don’t spend your resources inefficient. Think about what the minimum cost is to get started and then you can add things later. Don’t overthink. Do something else in the beginning so you can come back and focus everything on executing your idea with full force at your designated time. Start with the why and then make people follow you, and of course; Know your customer and what the customer needs.
Do you have any keys on how you handle any setbacks?
You always learn from your mistakes. We have had a few but when you run into a setback you need to take action. That is really important. Mistakes you will do, setbacks you will have but it’s what you do with them that is the core to become successful.
Any great moment or story you wish to share that happened during your career?
When we launched the brand in Copenhagen in 2011 and we realized that people really liked our product and we knew it would become a success. That was a great feeling.
What is your next step? What is your goals with your current projects?
Our project right now is to continue the rollout of ATP Atelier continuing with more customers and more markets without compromising our core values. We need to build bigger brand awareness and of course a dream is to open a retail store in Stockholm at some point.
If you could give yourself an advice as a 20-year-old Maj-La, what would that be?
Start your own business and believe in yourself but gain enough experience so you don’t have to make too many expensive mistakes that can ruin your business and dreams. But when the timing is right, just go! At last; Work together with people with whom you share the same values.