Inspirational Woman: Anna Moody | Founder and Creator of British Brazilian

BB_Summer_25Anna Moody, the creator and owner of British Brazilian, has been an entrepreneur and business owner for the last 25 years. Having started her first business – a modelling agency – at 17, she has since founded a hugely successful branding and graphic design business in Greece.

Anna launched her signature label, British Brazilian, in 2012. British Brazilian is dedicated to offering women a structured, no-nonsense approach to getting dressed for work or daily life, and focuses on high quality fabrics, elegant designs and high level workmanship.  

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and what you do currently

I grew up in West End, Southampton in the 1970s, the eldest of four girls. I started my first business at 17, making clothes in my parents’ living room and arranging fashion shows. After a few years working overseas, I returned to the UK and opened a Southampton-based modelling agency when I was 20. I’m an entrepreneur – I see business opportunities and jump straight in. What I don’t know, I learn very fast.

After five years I sold my modelling business so that I could travel more. I wanted to broaden my experience – without seeing different cultures and having different experiences, how can you speak from a position of knowledge?

I set up a successful graphic design and branding business in Greece, but having my daughter Ariadne when I was 39 prompted another change of direction and a shift in attitude. I was making a lot of money and spending a lot of money, but having Ariadne changed something in me. I think if you’re fortunate to have a good income and no major responsibilities, the temptation is there to just spend. But since having my daughter, I haven’t wanted to waste money. This prompted me to set up my own clothing business, British Brazilian, which designs and produces stylish but affordable clothes for the busy, professional woman.

I have this great passion for learning new things, meeting new people, networking and taking on new challenges. I see gaps in the market, and am driven to finding a way to fill them.

Why did you start your business?

I saw a need. Being a businesswoman and entrepreneur, I have to dress smartly all the time. I was adding up what I was spending a year on designer brands, and it was ridiculous! So, I thought “Why not take out the middle men and design my own collection of clothes to sell to professional, no-nonsense women like me?” When I started researching the business, I was horrified to discover the obscene mark-up on clothing, and felt that many brands were founded on a perceived idea of ‘worth’. At the end of the day, it’s just a piece of fabric. If there’s a fire, flood or other natural disaster, it is not going to save your life. It will always remain a piece of cloth. So how can we justify this kind of spending on something so singularly functional? I also feel very strongly about the sustainability of the disposable fashion culture. We are like addicts – work more, buy more, throw away more, destroy the planet a bit more…..Why? I love the term “Sheepeople” – it increasingly defines our culture today I think.

BB’s fabrics come from Italian mills and our clothes are made by a small group of seamstresses in Athens who were put out of work by the country’s economic crisis. BB was born out of a gap I saw in the market for well made, high quality fabrics and stylish clothes that are not based around trends or fashion. We don’t put huge mark-ups on our clothes in order to fuel expensive marketing campaigns – we prefer to give our customers the very best for the very lowest price we can.

What appealed to you about setting up your own business?

I am an entrepreneur – I know no other way! I have this great passion for learning new things, meeting new people, networking and taking on new challenges. I see gaps in the market, and am driven to finding a way to fill them.

What has been your biggest challenge?

When I first started BB, I sourced a renowned factory in Bulgaria to produce the range. This particular factory produces for some very big designer names in the fashion industry, so it was quite a feather in my cap to be working with them. They quoted a price, and I worked out my costs and volumes on this basis, as my budget allowed. Then, right at the final hour before production, I received a call from the factory to say that they could not now fulfil the order at the rate they had quoted unless I increased the number of pieces significantly. By this time, I had already invested €30,000 in fabric, so I didn’t know what to do – I had the fabric, but no way to fund the increased production volume! If I agreed to the new rate, based on a lower volume, I would have been left with an enormous amount of unused fabric. It was a real Catch 22. Then I had a light bulb moment. Twenty factories had gone bust in Athens, so I called the designer who had helped produce my sample collection and asked her to find several of the seamstresses from these factories, and ask if they would be interested in helping me out. Not only did they say yes, but they agreed to help on the basis of the original rate even though I hadn’t told them the price Bulgaria had quoted. That was absolutely the Universe at work. It saved me and I saved them because they were unemployed and I just popped up and gave them work for 3 months over Christmas! They were absolutely amazing, and I am completely indebted to them for their help. Many of the original ‘BB team’ are still working with us, and I am so grateful to have them.

These kids are our future and they need to get creative to survive and thrive. We need to encourage this creativity rather than pigeon hole them into a ‘best fit future’. No more square pegs in round holes.

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

I derived huge satisfaction from winning the Hilton account with my Greece-based branding company, as we were quoting against all of the top ad agencies in Europe. We were the absolute outsiders – small and provincial, but we did more work on the presentation, were hungry for the business, and prevailed! That was a sweet moment. Afterwards, I ran out onto the street with my team screaming and shouting! It was an unbelievable accomplishment for us.

Being featured in Vogue for British Brazilian was also an amazing achievement.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

I feel very strongly about education, and helping teenagers to understand that they have a choice in what they will become. I have created a ‘roadmap’ which shows kids the various paths they can take and the potential outcome of bad life choices. In Greece, I have a class of 14-15 year olds – my guinea pig group. They are absolutely amazing. We discuss things like the hero’s journey, happiness, choice and giving. I can honestly say the work we do has changed their lives, and all because they see things differently and are open to the enormous potential life can offer. I think of it as taking the blue pill (as in The Matrix films). These kids are our future and they need to get creative to survive and thrive. We need to encourage this creativity rather than pigeon hole them into a ‘best fit future’. No more square pegs in round holes.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

So many people – Sir Ken Robinson is absolutely brilliant. His ideas on radically re-thinking the current school system to cultivate creativity and encourage growth are inspirational. Arianna Huffington is also one of my motivational sources. I am a true advocate of mindfulness and the Third Metric – you can change things, you can inspire mindfulness, because if you inspire people to understand they have a ‘choice’, you can actually empower them and it becomes effortless. And my absolute favourite is Angelina Jolie. For me she is the ultimate woman – beautiful, intelligent and with oodles of integrity……oh and Brad Pitt. Where can we fault her?

What does the future hold for you?

Further success for BB. Mirroring in the UK the work that I’ve done with schools and children in Greece. Finishing my ‘roadmap for teenagers’ book. On a personal level, to be content as I realise ALL my dreams.

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