It all began while working for Zac Posen in New York City. I noticed that the fashion industry often crossed the line from inspiration to dictation - telling people how they should look and what they should wear. In many ways, fashion was stripping us of our individuality by dressing everyone the same. I knew I could do better. I knew I could inspire people to use fashion, not as a means to fit in, but as a way to boldly celebrate all of what makes each of us inherently unique and beautiful. 

While my studies were mainly focused on obtaining a master's degree in business from Emory University, you could say that handbag design is in my genes. My maternal grandmother would design and hand-knit bags, which she sold throughout her small town of Calarcá, Colombia as a side project from her full-time teaching job. I selected the brand name as a way to honor my rich heritage. Mel is short for my name, Melanie, as selected by my German father, and Boteri stems from my mother's maiden name, Botero. I officially launched Mel Boteri with my first collection of handbags in the fall of 2009.

I look forward to getting to know you and helping you to experience fashion in a new way. You can contact me directly at any time with questions, feedback or simply to say hello by emailing