A new year’s resolution has materialised for Kelly Bottcher in the form of a clothing range under the Ella Sol label, writes Debbie Reynolds
It seems that when Kelly Bottcher puts her mind to something, she makes it happen. When the former Bluff schoolgirl decided she wanted to work on super yachts as a cook, she couldn’t even boil an egg. “I quickly did a cooking course in the UK and landed my dream job working out of Europe on super yachts,” she says. “I love the ocean and I love travelling, so it was the perfect job for me. Learning about different cultures and exploring little villages as I went in search of fresh ingredients was fascinating.”
After eight years she decided it was time to come home and “get real”.
With the help of a friend she joined a company which imported homeware for local retailers. “I started at the bottom and worked my way up over about 10 years. It was another opportunity for me to travel – mostly to China and India. While working with bedding, cushions and fabrics, I was intrigued by all the different textures, weaves and colours.”
In January 2016 Kelly was jogging and mentally jotting down her new year’s resolutions. “My daughter, Ella, was six months old and I was at that stage where I was questioning my value. My whole world had turned upside down and I was feeling a little lost and wanting to create something that was my own. I decided then and there that I wanted my own clothing range.”
Luckily she had accumulated a lot of fabric during her travels. “Every time I saw a beautiful piece of fabric, I bought it, so I had quite a stockpile,” she laughs. “Then a new tenant, who is now my very good friend Nicola Powell, moved into our place and she really inspired me. “When I made something she would run upstairs and try it on. Soon she was wearing my creations and her friends started buying from me.”
Realising that she had the creative skills, but not the technical prowess, Kelly sourced pattern makers and » seamstresses and in October 2016 she held her first very successful open day.
She continued working her day job until March this year, when she decided to take a leap of faith and concentrate solely on Ella Sol. She launched her online store in September with an expanded summer range, consisting of blouses, dresses, trousers, shorts and jumpsuits.
“My inspiration comes from nature and the African culture, which is why my range has lots of bright florals. This season I’ve gone for primary colours in soft, flowy chiffons and silky viscose, and an Afro-chic look in more tailored wax prints. My focus with this range is to show how you can wear the garments in different ways.”
She says, for example, her key item, the kaftan dress, can be worn separately for day or open over jeans and one of her shimmery tops for night. Or even as a cover over a costume for the beach.
She’s also big on women enhancing their curves. “You don’t have to wear a shapeless sack, rather flatter your curves and be bold in how you express yourself by wearing colours that show how you feel.
“Don’t be scared to try something different, and throw in a little seasonal trend, like wearing shimmer during the day. My sequin jackets and little gold T-shirts are a good example of how you can take a day look into night.”
Her tip for summer is wear bold colours and don’t be afraid to mix prints.
“You also don’t need a lot of garments to update your wardrobe – it’s how you mix and match them that will make it work.”
Kelly is proud that all her garments are locally manufactured by “people who are passionate about what they do”.
“My goal for next year is to see Ella Sol expand throughout the country.”
*The range is also stocked at White Summer in Ballito, Nauhaus in uMhlanga’s Pearls Mall and if you’re out of town, Stella and Jade in Joburg.