[Interview] Amanda Mills, Founder Of Amanda Mills Los Angeles
Lifestyle curator is one of those terms that we hear a lot these days, but what does it really mean?
For Amanda Mills, the mind and face behind the Amanda Mills Los Angeles (AMLA) lifestyle brand, it is a term she takes great pride in. On the outside, Amanda appears to be a bright-eyed California woman with a penchant for Yoga. However, this former Texan is much more nuanced and complex.
Amanda’s popular website is also much more than a fashion blog – the Amanda Mills Los Angeles site and brand is a reflection of some of her deepest passions, one of which is social responsibility and global awareness. That is why each brand or organization Amanda features or profiles on AMLA has deep philanthropic ties. Fashion, food, travel, wellness and other categories, AMLA makes selections because the brand believes in the products and the designers featured on the website. AMLA also stocks its e-commerce store with just the right items to help shoppers achieve the elegant, eclectic look inspired by the California lifestyle with a south of France twist.
From supporting veterans to promoting cruelty-free sourcing, Amanda Mills has worked tirelessly to create a brand with heart, and it shows.
Hi Amanda, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Can you tell us about the journey that inspired you to create the Amanda Mills Los Angeles brand?
Amanda Mills: Giving, a lesson I learned at home. My story is either tragic or beautiful it depends on the eyes you choose to see it from. My birth mother was 16 years old when I was born. She had no means to care for me, so she selfishly gave me up for adoption. When I was six days old two angels appeared to take me home, I call them Mom and Dad. There was not a week that went by that I did not see my parents do more for others than they did for themselves.
Amanda Mills Los Angeles was born after the tragic loss of my fiancé to suicide in the summer of 2014. I had two choices: to become a victim or survivor. My goal was to start a company, not just to make money, but also to encourage other women that they too had a way out and a path to happiness. A company designed for women by women and our profits would provide philanthropic funds to bring hope to others in need. Not the easiest choice for a tiny start up, but a needed one.
What is your mantra and vision for the AMLA brand?
Amanda Mills: It is a dream come true to have a lifestyle brand that supports women in not only looking beautiful, but feeling beautiful! Everything I’ve ever done has brought me to this point. I have finally grown into my own skin and it’s the most beautiful comfortable design I have ever worn.
Amanda Mills Los Angeles is an e-commerce and content platform and we say that we are devoted to making every choice count. We like to push buttons and inspire our girls to break the glass ceiling and AMLA is not afraid to stir the pot and start the conversation and even ask tough questions once at times.
AMLA is digitally native company, a startup lifestyle brand that thinks digitally from an organic point-of-view and successfully blends content and revenue-generating retail that supports our conscious ideology.
We seek to embody the identities, interests, lifestyles, attitudes and opinions of an individual, group or culture. An organisation achieves a lifestyle brand by focusing on evoking an emotional connection with its consumers.
Therefore, the AMLA vision is to create a desire for a consumer to be affiliated with our community and retail brands.
AMLA seeks to connect with the consumer we believe that our readers /customers identity will be reinforced if they publicly associate themselves with our lifestyle brand. For example, portraying self-expression using the AMLA brand on social media.
How do you go about selecting the brands and organizations you feature on your website?
Amanda Mills: AMLA only works with like-minded brands that support women and people living on the margins. We are also committed to only using animal friendly products which support our California Lifestyle Brand Mission.
AMLA is 100 percent natural and ethical. We source from brands like JADEtribe, the true embodiment of fashion with a conscience. Whether it’s the handbag repurposed from hand embroidered baby carrier cloths, or the hand braided jewelry that jingles, or the organically dyed and hand loomed traditional textiles, each element of JADEtribe carries in it a piece of Kimberly’s heart and a piece of the hearts of the women in South East Asia whose lives have been improved by making it.
Most of our brands are sourced from companies that give back! Another brand we carry that shares our mission is Skinny & Co.
Matt and Luke Geddie were raised by a single mom with a profound sense of social consciousness. When Matt became extremely ill as a young teenager his mother began looking for alternatives to traditional medicine (that had proven it had little to offer Matthew’s diagnosed mold poisoning). It was because of their own family’s journey into wellness that a chemical free lifestyle became ingrained into these two brothers.
Always with their eyes on a sense of adventure, the two scraped together what little money they could and ventured to South East Asia – because they were informed that it was the most economical place to travel by backpack in the world. They made their way across the continent working as they went. They did everything from consulting in Thailand to volunteering at orphanages in southern India. The two brothers were building relationships and experiences to be told and retold for the rest of their lives….and yet, the memories would be eclipsed by the opportunities waiting for them in Vietnam. They immediately fell in love with the country’s pristine villages and lush jungles but most importantly they were captivated by the uniquely hard working, family oriented and friendly people.
What has running AMLA taught you about business and building a new business from the ground up?
Amanda Mills: My first thought was what is my legacy going to be? This is not just a idea or brand – this is a company that carries my given name Amanda Mills. I guess I was branded at birth.
In building your brand you have gained valuable insights what are some of your tips?
Amanda Mills: Keep your voice and mission in tact. Don’t let others tell you how to do you! And never listen to arm chair quarterbacks or people in the cheap seats.
Going forward where do you see yourself and AMLA in 5 years?
Amanda Mills: Well, only God knows the answer to that question. To build AMLA as truly great brand is more than a business or a product. It speaks to who you are, and how you want the world to perceive you. It’s a part of your personality and a proud reflection of self. People use brands to validate themselves. Many our consumption activities are becoming more sacred because we attach meaning to them. I want my name and the AMLA brand to stand for something.
Attaching a philosophy that consumers can identify with and aspire to and grow with is our holy grail for businesses.
Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.