Galore Darling: My Flash Trash Founder Amber Atherton
My Flash Trash is the jewellery destination for girls in the know. You’ll find My Flash Trash stocked in select locations or you can browse the treasure trove of carefully curated pieces from their online boutique. Founded in 2008 by Amber Atherton, enthusiastic entrepreneur, model and former Made In Chelsea star, My Flash Trash and it’s handpicked merchandise has drawn attention from British fashion institutions ranging from Topshop to Kate Middleton. We met up with 23-year-old Amber to talk accessories, royalty and inspiring career advice.
What’s a typical day like for you as the owner of your own business?
I get up early to go swimming or do pilates. I walk everywhere so I’ll go to my office where I’ll stay until the early afternoon. Then it could be off to a photo shoot, an event or to see a stylist – something like that. Once I get home I can be on Tumblr until 2am!
Do you enjoy being your own boss?
Having the freedom to dictate how you want to run your schedule is the most enjoyable thing about being your own boss. Managing your time is a skill though and you do learn to get better at it. I’m currently working from a colour-coordinated timetable.
Since My Flash Trash started in 2008 it’s undergone some changes. Your stock has varying price points. You also have your own design imprint called Flash Trash Girl.
In the beginning it was exclusively market place but now I design my own ranges alongside continuing to support up and coming designers. So it changed from being a market place to being a brand. I like to say it’s for champagne girls on a lemonade budget. It’s both inspirational and aspirational. We have pieces that range from £12 to the hundreds.
Your latest Flash Trash Girl designs were stocked in Topshop’s flag ship London store. How did that come about?
Our brand is quite limited in terms of distribution in that we don’t want to be stocked in every store. So there are very few suitable channels but when Topshop approached us it was a no-brainer. They came to us and we designed the collection specifically for Topshop.
Where are you hoping to pop up next?
America is our biggest growing market so we’re having discussions with American retailers and concept stores about the best way for us to progress.
Do you enjoy designing your own pieces?
I do enjoy it. I’ll work with a designer to refine my ideas. There’s a pair of hoop earrings with palm trees on them, and that’s from a design I drew in the early hours one morning. I get just as much fulfilment from the creative side as I do in the analytics and financial forecasting!
The main focus of My Flash Trash is the platform it gives to new designers. How do you go about curating the collections you stock online?
It’s a combination of designers sending applications to us and us scouting out designers from trend blogs or Instagram. All the pieces we stock are a mix of being tasteful and dreamy, girly and romantic or others are quite tongue-in-cheek. The items have to be conversation starters. We often have quirky pieces too. There’s this armour ring that seems to attract so much male attention. I don’t know why because it looks quite threatening. Overall what we curate has to be individual but trend reactive.
What are your current favourite pieces?
We have this necklace that says “internet” on it and I am just obsessed with it. I love all of the new Flash Trash Girl pieces because we put so much into making them. The inspiration for them came from watching The O.C. and Spring Breakers. I also really like a designer from Israel that we’re about to launch who makes rings. There’s also a London designer who makes incredible skull rings with gems in them, they have this rock and roll romance about them.
Your first collaboration was with the girls behind the fashion movement Funkyoffish. Do you have any others in the works?
We have Wah Nails coming up. The Wah collection isn’t particularly ring or finger focussed, it’s more about [founder] Sharmadean Reid’s aesthetic. It has real attitude. We’ve also in talks with other designers and celebrities… Watch this space!
Plenty of celebrities have been seen wearing My Flash Trash purchases. Beyoncé, Rita Ora, Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne… But Kate Middleton wearing your Double Leaf Earrings by Catherine Zoraida has to be the ultimate in celebrity clientele. How did her patronage affect your business?
It caused the website to crash. We were selling a pair of those earrings every four minutes. It boosted our American sales a lot. She’s worn them more than once and each time she’s seen in them we’ll get an influx of orders from America especially. I don’t think a lot of people would associate our brand with Kate Middleton so it was interesting. It emphasised that My Flash Trash does have this girly, princess side.
Your background in fashion is more high end. How have you adapted to being the figurehead of such an accessible brand?
A few years into Flash Trash and we started selling really expensive jewellery, like £600 – £1000. We started as a very small brand and we were featured in the likes of Love and Vogue magazine. But when I was on Made In Chelsea suddenly the entire teenage population of England was following me on Twitter, visiting the website, seeing the prices and quickly logging off again. I realised it had to become more commercial.
You were involved with Made In Chelsea from very early on, way before it premiered on TV. Was it a difficult decision to leave after three series?
It took a long time for me to finally decide to go. It was a lot of fun and I am very grateful for the experience and the way it introduced so many girls to My Flash Trash, but ultimately I don’t think it reflected who I really am. I was probably the worst reality start to ever exist! Plus I was bringing my laptop to all the filming and would be doing work or having conference calls in between shooting and I just had a moment when I was drinking champagne listening to Spencer or whoever chat about something or other that I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve had enough now!’
A great piece of advice you espouse is “Don’t be afraid of rejection”. It’s not just applicable to the business world. How do you put it into practice?
This comes from when I was modelling and I was far too young for it. I was 13 when I did an early shoot and from the age of 16 to 19 I was going out to castings a lot and being rejected. You develop a tough skin from that and you have to realise that it doesn’t matter. I just don’t process rejection or the word “No”. Even if something doesn’t work out you have to keep a spirit of positivity and self-belief. If something doesn’t work out you just have to seek out new opportunities. I’m not massively spiritual but sometimes you have to think “That wasn’t the right timing” or “That wasn’t meant to be”.
Finally, what should we be accessorising with for the rest of 2014? How can we be ahead of the trend?
Chokers. They are back. We’ve got so many coming.