Yale School of Management

Alumnae Startup Brings Sustainable Fashion to the Runway

By Karen Guzman

When Debra Broberg ’16 and Laura Melendrez ’16 graduated from the Yale School of Management’s Master of Advanced Management program, their company, Amor and Rosas, was still in startup mode.

A Yale-based fellowship helped them get established, but they still had a long way to go. Post-graduation, they thought they’d be on their own.

They weren’t.

“Five students in the incoming MAM class selected Amor and Rosas as their consulting cornerstone project,” says Broberg. “It was women helping women, and it really spoke to the values of the SOM community. We still use a lot of their insights today.”

Those insights helped bring Broberg and Melendrez, and their socially conscious clothing line, all the way to a debut at Fashion Week Mexico City in April. Their line is gaining attention, popping up in the likes of Vogue in France and Germany, and select boutiques in various countries are adding their pieces, which feature traditional and non-traditional, hand-made artisan embroidery.

Amor and Rosas is an “ethical, slow-fashion brand,” says Broberg. “The key components of our business model are social impact and environmental sustainability.” Indigenous Mexican artisans execute the designs. They are paid ethical wages, and proceeds from sales are invested in their villages and in growing their artisan networks.

“Right now, we’re working with 84 artisans in seven villages,” says Melendrez, who is Mexican and serves as the company’s CEO. Broberg, a Canadian, supports with business development, and she also works in business strategy for Microsoft. Amor and Rosas is headquartered in Mexico City.

“Since April, things have been so crazy,” says Melendrez. “The company is growing fast. Everything is going so well, after three years of hard work.”

Broberg and Melendrez were roommates while attending Yale SOM. They bonded over a shared interest in using business to drive social change. “In the Yale SOM environment, we were able to foster innovation surrounded by like-minded people,” Broberg says.

Amor and Rosas uses natural fibers, like hemp and bamboo, and recyclable materials whenever possible. While some textiles are imported, all the embroidery is done in Mexico. The company adheres to strict sustainability practices, while employing women, who are traditionally underrepresented in business in Mexico, Melendrez says. The company recently opened its own boutique in San Miguel.

“It’s a tiny space, but it’s our first one,” Melendrez says. “And it’s so incredibly rewarding to see the artisans so happy, and to know we’re making a difference in their lives.”
 

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