Botkier is the quintessential NYC handbag that girls in the know love to carry no matter where they live. It's all about handbags in an array of shapes that truly work with your lifestyle. We sat down with Monika Botkier to talk bags, the collaboration with model, Cocoa Rocha and more!
ATHLEISURE MAG: How does Botkier maintain its "cool girl" style as an effortlessly chic brand?
MONICA BOTKIER: Thank you! That’s our mantra. Our girl is 'street smart chic.' She knows what she wants and has an edge to her style... always confident. We think about her in every aspect of the brand, from product design to social media. When I started the brand, I was a downtown girl living my dream in Soho NYC and that moment resonates with the modern woman no matter where she lives.
AM: How much of a role does NYC play in the designs?
MB: In 2013, after 10 years, we added New York to our brand name officially. There is a certain strength and attitude to the women of NYC. We like to celebrate our city in this way, particularly in terms of style and functionality that informs our design process. New York is our muse!
AM: How much does your photographic background place into the design and/or the brand at large?
MB: I was very focused on fashion photography as I transitioned to design, so style was a big part of that artistic expression for me. Through the years I shot some of the campaigns which was a function of being an entrepreneur and an independent brand. We were now of the first contemporary brands who would even create campaigns because that was so second nature for me. Now we have amazing teams that we collaborate with I can tell you it’s very satisfying to see the product go from sketch to sample to shoot.
AM: What are your 3 favorite bodies in the collection for Spring '16?
MB: Our bags are names after NY neighborhoods or streets. My favorites for S16 are the Irving Hobo, Cobble Hill shoulder and the classic Soho Tote.
AM: Tell us about your collab with Coco Rocha?
MB: I was a big fan of Coco, her astute sense of style and social media saavy. I believe collaborations are really important for brands to keep things fresh and fun. We reached out to her and she was excited. The connection was instant, I had met her before at events around the city. She is a wonderful, energetic, super smart talent and a new mom to boot. Coco is the ultimate modern woman, our ideal Botkier girl.
AM: How do you juggle your time between business and friends/family?
MB: The million dollar question! Female power and promise are the touch points today for any industry. We see how we still have to fight for the respect we deserve as women in the working world. The truth is you’ll always have more on your plate when you have a family and a business. You can have it all but it isn’t some retouched version of what that looks and feels like. It’s hard work and the balance comes from within accepting that it will never be perfect. I try not to be too hard on yourself and be realistic. There are only so many hours in the day. It’s important to be present in the moment you’re in. Believe in yourself, your goals and keep pushing. Give and receive love starting with yourself.
AM: With the success of your brand how do you achieve balance and stay connected/present?
MB: Life-Work-Balance is truly a buzz phrase today and I think that's great. This means at we are collectively thinking how to achieve a healthy and happy life that isn't only about work! It takes effort to eat right, meditate and breathe through challenges. For me being grateful helps me keep perspective. I try not to get overwhelmed by media, social, news or otherwise, but to remain aware. All I can say there is no perfect formula and it takes work to maintain through consciousness. I belong to a group of creative and successful women, many of them designers I admire so having a group to lean on is also a nice way to find that balance.
AM: How do you prepare for the Spring personally and as a brand?
MB: I look forward and then make a list of goals. It’s a great time to refresh the vision board and make sure to recommit to New Year's resolutions like meditation, diet and exercise since summer is right around the corner! Same for the brand. We review, regroup and renew for the warm seasons to come. People feel inspired when the sun starts shining and the weather gets warmer, it’s a great time for new creative plans.
AM: What does Balance Next mean to you?
MB: The first thing I think of is the life/work/health/happiness/peace balance that should be a priority for everyone to feel grounded no matter what is happening at the moment. It’s the commitment to wellness which as I get older has started to become more of focus and brings me true joy.
AM: What are 3 musts for your personal time?
MB: Sorry for the cliche but I love Soul Cycle, also Y7 yoga studio, Dr. Frank Lipman’s protein shakes for breakfast and Roman’s for a neighborhood food spot (Brooklyn Fort Greene). Music in as much of the day as possible, car, kitchen, office everywhere!
AM: Athleisure is about comfortable clothes that can transition from the gym, to brunch, meetings and a night out or jetsetting (think Bandier leggings paired with a cashmere tunic and ankle boots) - what are 3 favorite pieces that are great within your athleisure look?
MB: Just what you mentioned above - my ideal atheleisure outfit to a T!