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Wonder Woman Wednesday: Rosanna Garden

Rosanna Garden, founder of the award-winning bridesmaid brand Motee Maids, is next up in our Wonder Woman Wednesday series…

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Rosanna Garden, founder of bridesmaid brand Motee Maids
Rosanna Garden, founder of bridesmaid brand Motee Maids

With an extensive background in fashion, Rosanna Garden decided to go solo whilst working for fashion brand Monsoon. During her multitude of business trips to India, the designer became inspired by the skilled artisan beading she saw here.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Chupi Sweetman

A mother to her son Rowan, Rosanna also needed a job with flexible working hours to fit around her busy family life. Now founder of award-winning bridesmaid brand Motee Maids, Rosanna can offer her stockists and their brides over 1000 luxury designs to ensure all their bridesmaids feel confident on her big day.

Tell us about your background

Prior to setting up Motee Maids, I was an occasionwear and bridal buyer for Monsoon. With a strong belief that one size or style doesn’t suit all, I started designing the first Motee Maids collection just after my son Rowan was born in 2016 and launched at White Gallery in 2017.

Although I loved what I was doing on the high street, I always knew I wanted to work for myself, run my own business and travel on my own terms. My husband and I were planning a family and two parents who travelled a lot was going to be logistical headache.

That was a big catalyst for me to venture out alone and it gave me the drive to succeed. Certainly, having spoken to so many female entrepreneurs over the last couple of years, family and the right balance, seems to be a big driving force behind the decision.

In terms of my education, I had a brief spell studying Chemistry but that was far too difficult! I then undertook a degree in Industrial Design before going on to study for a Master in Fashion Marketing. I had the privilege of working in the marketing departments of big brands such as BT and Mars before moving into fashion buying where I spent eight years.

If you loving this designer’s story, check out Charlie Brear’s Wonder Woman Wednesday profile here.

What inspired you to set up Motee Maids?

I had a desire to run my own business, and needed something that fits in with family life, but alongside this, when working for Monsoon I was fortunate enough to visit India over 10 times over a six-year period.

These trips made me fall in love with skilled artisan beading, embellishments and colour, and it was my passion for these that really spurred me forward to start working on my own designs. With Motee meaning bead or pearl in Hindi, the debut collection had these three elements – beading, embellishment and colour – as the focal point.

What makes Motee Maids unique?

I didn’t want to just create a handful of dresses. I wanted a concept that allowed brides to choose to have their bridesmaids in the same dress or create mix and match options from a range of different bodice shapes, skirts, colours and embellishment designs, all of which coordinate subtly together. We now have over 1000 styles to choose from!

With brides increasingly wanting more individuality on their big day, Motee Maids allows them to have a creative input to ensure each of their maids has a gown perfectly suited and unique to them.

The brand is accessible and appeals to style-conscious bridal parties looking for timeless but current gowns that offer an understated elegance and exceptional quality and fit.

I also felt strongly that I wanted to be able to offer independent retailers something unique, something that isn’t easily replicated on the high street or internet. Available exclusively through boutiques, stockists will offer exceptional service to bridal parties and help them through the process of creating a Motee Maids gown.

Brides will have the full range of silhouettes and colours for their bridesmaids to try on and an extensive swatch book to help them envisage the gowns.

Today we have over 30 stockists throughout the world…. and the brand is going from strength to strength. It’s been a labour of love and I smile to myself when I think about the fact that my son Rowan’s favourite part of the business is the constant supply of cardboard boxes!

Inspired by this entrepreneur? Read Katherine Hooker’s Wonder Woman Wednesday profile to find out more about her entrepreneurial background.

What are your secrets to success?

Motee Maids is still a new brand and whilst I couldn’t be more delighted with how it’s going and the hugely positive feedback from industry peers, suppliers and most importantly the brides and bridesmaids themselves, I don’t consider myself successful just yet!

Saying that, however, hard work and the sheer determination to succeed definitely help.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Emmy Scarterfield

What’s your greatest achievement so far?

Honestly, it has to be the Bridal Buyer Award that we received in our first season. To have been awarded such a prestigious industry accolade, and so early in the life of the brand, really is a privilege, and one that I am immensely proud of.

Another great achievement would be juggling it all! I’m a mum too so having the devotion and resolve needed to start, build and grow a business alongside family life is definitely a great achievement.

Who is your greatest female inspiration?

The American industrial designer Ray Eames. She was part of the design duo Charles and Ray Eames - you might even have some of their chairs in your office or home. They were an inspiring husband and wife design partnership with Charles saying of his wife, “Anything I can do, Ray can do better.” Their designs look as contemporary today as ever.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Sanyukta Shrestha

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Without doubt, it’s receiving real wedding photos. I don’t have direct access to the brides or their bridesmaids so I love the fact that so many clients are sending me pictures along with such wonderful words about the dresses. These really bring the dresses to life and to see the bridal party looking so happy is really touching and a great endorsement for the brand.

What does your typical working day look like?

My son Rowan is an adorable and rambunctious two-year-old so the first couple of hours of every day revolves around getting him ready for nursery.

I then spend some time working with my colleagues in India before they close for the day, although inevitably, I make the amazing team there stay late more often than not. I spend time liaising with the factory for production updates, new design reviews and working through any first season design matters. Most importantly, I ensure I spend time communicating with our supportive portfolio of stockists.

The afternoon revolves around any trade show preparation, graphic design, social media and website updates, before it’s a mad rush to collect Rowan.

When I’m designing new collections, I tend to lock myself away for days to focus surrounded by a mess of beads, swatches and toiles that only I can make any sense of.

Read more: Wonder Woman Wednesday: Tiffany London

Can you tell us five interesting facts about yourself?

  1. All the dresses in the collection are named after children of my family and friends.
  2. The Lake silhouette is taken from the design I created for my own wedding reception dress.
  3. I turned down the opportunity to take part in the second season of ‘Dragon’s Den’ when the producers called for a light up handbag I designed as part of my degree project many years ago.
  4. I spent 10 years getting around London by Vespa; it is the only way to avoid the traffic and the crush of the tube. I thoroughly recommend it, makes London feel so small and you can still drive in the most vertiginous of heels!
  5. I grew up on a family farm on the East Coast of Scotland and it is my absolutely favourite place to go to escape London.

If you loved reading about Rosanna’s fascinating background in design, read Jacqui James’ Wonder Woman Wednesday profile to learn more about the new talent in bridal.

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