"I love cashmere"... those were the three words that Melanie said to us, again and again, when we met for the first time in London.
Melanie Costa Leite is the proud owner of Melanie Cashmere, a Portuguese independent fashion label specialising in luxury cashmere. It’s not every day that we meet a client that genuinely loves what they do, with a real passion. When Melanie talks about cashmere, fashion & babies, which she does quite a lot, her eyes shine with a real excitement. We’re pretty sure that since our first meeting on Skype last year Melanie has reminded us in every meeting since that yes, she really does love cashmere!
The Melanie Cashmere business had been growing for a couple of years, but whilst exhibiting at New York Fashion Week in the spring of 2016 Melanie had an unexpected light bulb moment. Her A/W 2016 collection rack was full of the finest luxury cashmere. The womenswear designs received the usual good reviews, but what Melanie was not expecting was the overwhelming expression of love for her few pieces of mum & baby cashmere stuck at the end of the racks. Melanie also noticed that the fashion buyers in New York were now showing more interest in the quality, provenance and supply chain for cashmere.
On the flight back from JFK to Porto she decided to make a small but decisive pivot with the direction of her company, she wanted to find a new way for her label to be more inclusive for pregnant women with more choice for baby. She also gave herself the challenge of doing a better job of raising awareness of the cashmere story from the farm to factory to fashion store.
Getting the brand name and message right was key to the success of the new brand. The Melanie Cashmere name had done a good job up until this point but we weren’t convinced that it was fit for purpose moving forward. During the brand workshop with Melanie in London, and several Skype calls after, we went through the process of debating the pros & cons of having her name above the door. We don’t speak much Portuguese in the studio but our basic command of Spanish helped us understand that her surname ‘Costa Leite’ translates roughly into ‘Milk Coast’.
At the same time we’d realised that rolls of soft cashmere fabric take on a ‘milky’ appearance when they’re allowed to ripple and fold in on themselves. The perfect name for a new brand that specialises in natural, gentle & velvety cashmere for women & babies… Milk!
When we told Melanie that we didn’t want to use her name, and presented to her the new Milk concept, there was an awkward few moments of silence… and then she just nodded & smiled.
A small touch of kindness
The brand message needed to be interwoven with every aspect of the brand story. Melanie wanted her new luxury lifestyle company to shine a light on the story of cashmere wool from the farm to factory to fashion store. A message that helped communicate Melanie’s gentle and caring approach to business.