Amanda Mills Los Angeles: Transforming Loss into Hope and Inspiration
We are often encouraged to turn tragedy into inspiration, to overcome loss or despair and reemerge emboldened, with our dreams and ambitions not only intact, but strengthened and even re-focused. However, understanding that this is a possibility and actually doing it are often two different things.
When style curator Amanda Mills had her own life thrown into turmoil after her fiancé unexpectedly passed away, it took a trip to the other side of the globe and a yoga mat for her to begin the process of healing and redirect her focus away from the tragedy. It was while looking for a yoga class in Rwanda when Amanda met the Ubushobozi Project, an organization working to elevate young women in the country out of poverty by teaching them valuable vocational skills, like sewing, weaving and crocheting.
Amanda’s time with the Ubushobozi Project was in many ways a life-changing experience for her, one that gave her the inspiration and strength to return to following her own dreams. “Seeing the resilience in these young women inspired me to find the resilience in myself and the power to realize my own dreams,” Amanda Mills explains.
That dream meant beginning her own lifestyle curation brand, now known as Amanda Mills Los Angeles (AMLA), one that would provide readers with curated fashion and lifestyle choices, but, more importantly, would be driven by the values of conscious commerce, of working with like-minded designers who care about where they source their clothes. And a brand that, ultimately, would support and push forward the idea of empowering women around the world.
As Amanda says, you have two choices when you face tragedy or loss: you can become a victim or a survivor. It’s good fortune that Amanda chose the latter.
1. First off, from my understanding, before founding Amanda Mills Los Angeles, you studied yoga extensively. How do you think yoga has helped you in leading and building the Amanda Mills Los Angeles brand? How has it helped your career as a business woman?
For me, yoga is about finding balance, as well as maintaining a sense of perspective on life. It’s helped me shed the negativity that was holding me back. I intensely studied yoga for two years, as you may know, and it is much more than exercise to me - it’s a philosophy and way of being. I think it’s one of the best ways to move your mind and body to stillness, which opens you up to greater clarity.
2. Why was creating a lifestyle brand important to you? And how do you go about selecting the topics on AMLA to write on?
I really wanted to create a brand unlike any other. My main goal in creating Amanda Mills Los Angeles centered around the empowerment and advancement of women through conscious commerce. It's a goal that remains just as important for us today. However, AMLA is also very committed to bringing awareness to conscious commerce and being a socially-conscious brand in every aspect. We promote equitable, fair trade and cruelty-free sourcing. The thing I love most is that by building AMLA, I am able to address so many of these issues.
When it comes to selecting topics to write on, I look for people and stories that embody the same passion I have. Whether it’s empowering women, championing animals or learning the restorative nature of yoga, I want to tell stories about healing and empowerment.
3. Empowering women and working with designers who care about sustainability and fair sourcing of clothing is important to you. How do you think AMLA has helped these initiatives? What plans does AMLA have for further supporting these initiatives in the future?
Being a place where these designers, artisans and craftswomen are celebrated and recognized is definitely the most important aspect of what we do at AMLA. I also think showcasing the ability for fashion to be sustainable and support communities and still be chic and trendy is incredibly important.
Moving forward, I see us engaging in more initiatives that empower women and hopefully we will be able to add even more designers to our list of socially conscious brands.
4. What does conscious commerce mean to you and what recent success stories around conscious commerce has excited you the most?
Conscious commerce is really about awareness, knowing where the things we buy are coming from and what impact they have on the communities and people who make our clothes. Understanding that we are all connected through every action we take is at the heart of the movement. I believe you do this through the constant practice of mindful awareness to what is going on locally and globally.
I think every story that highlights the growing movement of conscious commerce is a success story because it brings attention to the good that is possible if we just think a little differently. One brand that immediately comes to mind is SKINNY & CO. Using the popularity of coconut oil as inspiration, the founders looked for a way to empower women through producing something that was in demand - I just love that!
5. How does your unique focus on spirituality and health shape your daily decisions? Personally? Professionally?
AMLA isn't just a brand - it’s a movement built around making women feel good about who they are and what they have achieved. This is a mantra I practice and strongly believe in, which is only strengthened by my faith in a higher power. I use this to shape all the decisions I make for the brand and my personal life.
Yoga has also played an important part in keeping me grounded and spiritually connected. The fashion business can be hard and may even appear superficial, so I use my faith and yoga to connect me with my goals and beliefs.
Thank you for your insight and honesty Amanda.