Meet the 21-year-old Made in Chelsea star, worth $5m and loved by Kate Middleton
Cheryl Cole and Rihanna love her cult online jewellery boutique, My Flash Trash too. Who is Amber Atherton?
Talk about starting when you’re young, Amber Atherton built her first brand at the age of 9.
Her first project since you ask? A website selling books and CDs, with the young Atherton receiving her first cheque the day before her 10th birthday.
Her pre-teen years were swamped in further projects, including an e-cards website, a cuddly toy venture, a trucker hat label, personalised apparel and a teen magazine until finally at 16, she started running an amateur import/export business from her dorm at boarding school - named My Flash Trash.
Atherton continued developing her brand at university, while studying Fashion Management at the London College of Fashion. She started attracting the interest of VC firms and gathered a loyal fanbase, including Kate Middleton a.k.a The Duchess of Cambridge, Cheryl Cole, Rihanna and friends like Edie Campbell and Felicity Jones.
She’s better known for a project she started working on in 2010 - a new reality TV show set in London. This venture became better known as the Channel 4 TV series Made in Chelsea, with her involved from the beginning.
Now her venture My Flash Trash has gone to new heights, with the newest development being a deal with two American angel investors Prashanth Bobba and Ateet Ahluwalia that valued her company at $5m.
The funding is going to be used to fund her company’s growth in America, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
Atherton has even cracked a deal with top entrepreneur, Moshi Monsters mogul Michael Action Smith. She reveals: “2013 is going to be our busiest year yet. As well as aggressive growth targets, we will be diversifying by selling more lifestyle products and plan to expand our portfolio with more licencing agreements. We currently have an agreement with Moshi Monsters, which means we can sell bracelets with Moshi charms.”
How are you feeling after the news of the $5m valuation?
Elated! I’m very excited.
What was the idea behind My Flash Trash?
When I started it back at 16, it was the sixth or seventh venture off the back of other internet businesses I set up. The initial idea was not really because my love of jewellery, I was living in Hong Kong and they had fantastic jewellery there. So, I started buying it and selling it online.
Initially I had no direct plan, I said – ‘Ok, I’ve set up a cool jewellery fashion blog where I can sell products’. Then it expanded to become a retailer, other designers approached me and that is when I had a clear vision of making a sales platform.
Was there a breakthrough moment for you?
There was! It would be the point when we had 10 different designers and it became definitely more of a plan then.
You’ve got celebrity fans including Cheryl Cole and Rihanna. How did you get them interested?
It was quite organic. I was getting involved in the fashion world through modelling. I started getting to know a lot of people in that realm and they put me in touch with stylists. It happened in quite a friendly way and after being on Made in Chelsea, I was thrust into the fashion world. I had direct contact with a lot of celebrities and so it became very much on a friend basis that I could introduce those labels to them.
How’s the company been growing?
I can’t reveal figures on my investors’ guidance but growth-wise, we started at 10 designers and now have 40 designers. We have a licensing arm, a PR and sales agent arm, a shop in the W Hotel and 15 stockists worldwide of all of our brands.
Each month there seems to be new growth opportunities that we’re taking advantage of. There has been a lots of growth in the West and East Coast.
What’s your target for the next few years?
It really is to become the dominant force in the costume jewellery and accessories market.
Is your aim to overtake any competitors? Got your eye on anyone?
(Laughs) No, no… just to provide a modern, fresh, young and cool approach to costume jewellery and accessories with a sort of innovative… actually I don’t want to say innovative, that’s an annoying word… with an accessible product range.
Do you have any other entrepreneurial ideas in the pipeline?
This is my only venture for the moment and I’m 100% focused on this. However I do enjoy spending some time consulting with other brands. When I get to the point where I have more free time, I do want to invest in other entrepreneurs.
Do you have any business idols?
Carmen Busquets, who invested in Net-a-Porter. She’s an idol, or at least an inspirational figure. Who else…?
Not many then?
No! No! There’s not anyone I can think of off the top of my head.
I think the people you read about more inside the business realm that don’t have necessarily publically well-known names. Nick Robinson at ASOS – great!
It definitely was impacted by growing up in Hong Kong. I was surrounded by a lot of self-made entrepreneurs there, in property and the shipping business. That really inspired me.