In an inbox of thousands, what makes an email get noticed? An email pique enough attention that you proceed to check out that person’s Instagram, TikTok account, and website? That when you receive a follow-up message, rather than put it in the “pushy” basket – you put it in the “ballsy” basket and decide you want more? And in a sea of thousands of start-up brands and content creators – what makes this the one you find yourself replying “yes, we would love to feature you”?
There’s something about Amelia Scott that sets her apart. An element of cool that’s not something that can be faked or bought by slipping $100 notes across the table to. A sense of confidence and individuality that oozes out into her label of the same name: AMELIA designs.
Learning to sew and knit from her grandmother as a pandemic passion project, Amelia took to the practice quickly – soon beginning her label offering one-of-a-kind, sustainable, handcrafted knit garments. Since launching via Instagram 11 months ago, the label has gone on to be featured by Vogue and Marie Claire, as well as being stocked in boutiques across New York City, Connecticut, and South Carolina. Not to mention a collaboration with LoveShackFancy.
Having just released her 11th drop and sold out of everything but 2 pieces, we sat down with the young (she’s 21!) Brisbane entrepreneur to find out just how she’s managing to already make her mark on some of the world’s fashion elite…
Firstly, how and why did you get started with AMELIA designs?
It was my first ‘winter break’ of my American college year (which happened to be summer in Australia) and I had seen many of my classmates at Parsons School of Design knitting in their spare time. Having never picked up a pair of knitting needles myself, and considering the competitive nature of design school students, I was struck with the fear that I would lag behind them all in the next semester. Motivated by this, I asked my grandmother (who also taught me how to sew), to teach me to knit. I took to knitting like a duck to water – within two weeks I had knitted eight vests. I knew I was never going to wear all of them, especially in an Australian summer, so I posted a few for sale on my Instagram and website. My first piece sold in under a minute and thus ‘AMELIA designs‘ was born.
In your introductory email to us, you mentioned you struggled to find a passion during school and rejected traditional learning streams – yet here you are starting your own business. That must feel very rewarding?
It’s interesting isn’t it. There are a couple of teachers who saw in me something positive in my rejection of learning traditionally – sitting at a desk listening for six hours a day – but most did not. I am still in touch with those teachers [who believed in me] to this day. I started my first business when I was 12 then followed it with another couple in the following years. I really appreciate teachers who recognise that everyone in any school or establishment has something unique to offer and that it’s the school’s role to help identify and nurture this.
What were some of the hardest steps to take in starting your own business?
Realising that you yourself need to devise, learn, and participate in every single step of each process. It is not a matter of considering ‘what if this doesn’t work?’ but ‘how will I make it work?’ and then being relentless in researching and mastering each job yourself.
You mention on TikTok that friends were quick to doubt you. Was this something that helped drive you to succeed?
Acquaintances and onlookers were quick to doubt me. My family and friends weren’t. So all of that helped; the drive to show critics that they were wrong and at the same time showing my family and myself that I was right.
Talking about TikTok – we love how you’ve used the platform to give people a personal glimpse into the brand. Do you think this personal touch has helped the brand attract attention?
Thank you, I suppose I am really fortunate to be building a brand at a time when we can each personally reach a market without having to hire ‘experts’ or have costs that in the past might have stopped some entrepreneurs from being able to fulfil their dreams.
What do you think it is about AMELIA designs that makes it stand out from so many other brands trying to succeed? Both the brand and the social content?
If you do what you love and you live it, breathe it, wear it, share it – it is easier to succeed. Since the minute I started ‘AMELIA designs’, I have pursued my business seven days a week. It looks fun, but it’s really a lot of hard work. Sometimes it’s lonely, sometimes it’s boring, often it’s staying home when everyone else is out or doing something ‘fun’. I suppose you might say that I am relentless in my pursuit of building my business and sharing my passion for fashion and clothing – which is the opposite of ‘fast fashion’.
We have to say, you’re quite ballsy – and we love it. What have been some of the things you’ve done to help get AMELIA designs noticed?
I take my designs with me wherever I go and I go places with them I might not have otherwise gone. I have left myself wide open on TikTok and social media to be criticised and I have had to make the decision to just roll with it. I am the brand at the moment, so featuring some of my life in the brand is a decision I have made. It’s risky – but with no risk, there is no chance of success.
You moved to New York. Was this to help with the label? Why New York?
I moved to New York to study. I spent years saving to support myself there because I wanted to be at the coalface, in a place where learning from some of the best and most passionate advocates of design prepares you to compete with the best.
You’re attending Parsons School of Design in NYC. Do you think study is imperative to the future of AMELIA?
Parsons is a liberal arts school, so politics, global issues, society and humanity are all part of the learning experience – and design and fashion are influenced by these, and can also be of influence. So at the moment, this feels imperative. There might be a time in the future when it no longer is, or that it is no longer possible for me – at which time I will do what we have all had to do over the last couple of years: adapt.
Do you think studying fashion is important to owning a successful label? Why?
Does it help to study fashion? Yes, because knowing what is involved in every step of design and production makes you better at what you do – in any business. But there are many ways to succeed; creatives are individuals and their path to success can be as individual as they are.
Has moving to New York helped with the label? How has it helped?
Probably it has helped because it is such a challenging and exciting time for me and when I feel that way, I am more creative and more driven. It’s also really expensive to live day to day in New York, so I cannot afford to slow down.
You’ve done a collaboration with renowned fashion label LoveShackFancy. How did that all happen? Will that be an ongoing collaboration?
I was very fortunate – the founder of LoveShackFancy spotted my designs on social media and a buyer from the company reached out to me. I was so flattered that a store I personally loved and had visited two years earlier actually found me and asked for some of my designs. I should be so lucky as to have an ongoing collaboration with them. Time will tell, I suppose.
You’ve also appeared in Marie Claire and Vogue. Can you take me behind-the-scenes into how those opportunities came about?
In both cases, Marie Claire and Vogue contacted me and asked to loan my pieces. We are so fortunate in design these days that publications as successful and renowned as these take the time and trouble to find and support up-and-coming new designers. It is a real credit to these magazines that they use new avenues like Instagram and TikTok to find and follow creatives.
It’s not just stores and magazines that have collaborated with AMELIA designs – the brand has also been spotted on Saskia Jenkins, Jade Tunchy, and Ella McFadin. Did these collaborations come about organically?
I do my own marketing and as I am a fan of Saskia Jenkins, Jade Tunchy, and Ella McFadin, I contacted them and asked if I could design specific pieces for them or asked if they would like to select a piece from my drop of the season.
Are you ever scared of approaching people? How do you overcome this?
I am always scared of approaching people, but I remember that book so many of us had when we were young: ‘Going On A Bear Hunt’. Every time the family encountered an obstacle, the lines were something like: “We can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, we can’t go around it… we’ll have to go through it’. So fear, or no fear, I have to go through it to get to the other side.
What has been your biggest business pinch me moment?
So many! Being accepted into Parsons School of Design. Being contacted by Vogue and Marie Claire. And hearing from you!
Where are you hoping to take AMELIA designs?
To a space that continues to delight its followers and customers.
What would you say now to your doubters?
Thank you for helping to give me the resolve to prove you wrong.
And lastly, any words for your grandma?
Bella, ‘AMELIA designs’ wouldn’t be what it is without you. I am so beyond fortunate to call you my grandmother.