Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with Aimee Smale, founder of Odd Muse. With a passion for fashion, she started this upscale fashion brand in 2020 from her bedroom. After releasing the first full collection in April 2021, the label was an instant success with its elevated styles.
Through timeless pieces varying from blazers, trousers and dresses, the collections are suitable for any occasion and are the perfect sartorial addition to any wardrobe. By garnering a presence globally, the brand is now making its mark in the UAE with its expansive client base.
Emirates Woman sat down with the brand’s founder to learn about her career path and how she’s converted her passion into a full-time business.
What was your favourite subject at school?
My favourite subject at school was History and I think that massively plays into my career as a designer. I love luxury fashion because it has much more of a story to tell, and everything I design is always inspired by something that can last a long time in a fast, trend-led world.
What was your first job?
My first job was at ASOS, assisting a buying team. I pretty much learned everything I needed to know to launch Odd Muse, and whenever I speak to young designers wanting to start their own brand, I always say go get some industry experience. It teaches you hard work and gives the insight to prepare you.
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What brought you to Dubai?
Odd Muse has had the pleasure of growing a huge international audience, the US and UAE are our two biggest markets. I have a personal affinity with Dubai, as a Founder, I feel I understand the market and the custom here. I feel the brand can thrive here, and it is a pleasure to have Dubai as our first territory to officially expand into.
What inspired you to enter the fashion space and launch Odd Muse London?
I launched Odd Muse as a response to fast fashion. I felt young women, specifically in the UK, were consuming fast fashion as a last resort. I wanted to introduce something to that market, by implementing the idea of Investment Fashion. Instead of assuming this demographic would not consume a £140 blazer, I broke it down to my customer. Explaining, that their monthly consumption could be better spent on fewer pieces with much better quality. No other brand was bridging this gap. Yes my clothes are still luxury and we reach an amazing luxury consumer, but my pieces are statements for years to come and my once Fast Fashion customer, can buy her blazer knowing this.
Talk us through the inspiration of your pieces.
Our design process is focused on both our mission statement and our customer. We focus on small collections and key pieces. Each piece must be considered an ‘Investment’ in our muse’s eyes, she always has a first use for the purchase, but we know our customer loves to re-purpose her blazer and/or any other piece into her capsule wardrobe. So it always has to have that quality. I am inspired by elevating familiar silhouettes such as a staple blazer and a little black dress.
What are the key elements of your role?
My role in the business is all around the growth of the business. I manage all our paid marketing platforms, I still run our social media account, specifically our Instagram as I believe that personal connection with my customer has always been successful for the brand. I’m confident no one can communicate with my customer as I can, I feel I have a unique connection with our social media followers/customers. I strategise the whole business quarterly and am able to delegate to my fabulous, growing team. I am aware there are elements of my role that I could hire people for, but I thoroughly enjoy juggling what I do, with the role of being a manager to my team as well as helping other women build their own brands through my fashion consultancy business.
Talk us through your daily routine.
At Odd Muse, no two days are the same and that has been my whole experience in the fashion industry, it is what I love most about it. The brand is continuing to grow rapidly, so my main priority is adapting to what is changing every single day. However, as a designer, first and foremost, it is always important to me to have at least one hour a day to dedicate to my creative mind and one hour a day to dedicate to my emails.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Prioritise industry experience and be patient. Another big bit of advice I would give other designers is, to try to be critical when something isn’t working. Pushing a product your audience does not love can tarnish your credibility in the market.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only fail when you give up trying.
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And what is the worst?
I am big on manifesting and believing in myself, but sometimes I feel there is a narrative as though this is all it takes. In reality, I find the belief I have in myself certainly keeps me going but achieving your goals, I have found, requires so much hard work and sacrifice.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Adapting to growth has by far been my toughest experience, at every stage. I don’t think anything can ever prepare you for your first time running and scaling a business. We became successful very quickly and there has been several times in the last two years when I have had to adapt and manage situations I was completely new to.
What are the future plans for your brand?
We are continuing to work on our global presence, while we are a London-based brand, we recognize we have a great customer base in many different markets. We are working on more physical presences in store also.
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