In the ever-evolving landscape of the business world, there are stories that transcend time, weaving a tapestry of heritage, innovation, and sustainability. Such is the journey of continuing a family business, where threads of tradition and modernity intertwine to create a unique fabric of success. In this age of rapid consumption and disposal, the fashion industry has risen as a prominent symbol of excess and environmental impact. It’s within this context that the concept of the circular economy has emerged as a beacon of hope. The union of tradition and circular economy principles brings forth a unique set of challenges, but despite everything, our latest Cool Face of Bastet Noir has managed to create a fashion and lifestyle powerhouse of a business.
Carmen Haid is the founder of ATELIER-MAYER.COM, Europe’s first online platform for luxury vintage fashion and accessories, with a focus on a sustainable and circular economy. Before elevating what was a family business with an 80-year-old tradition, Carmen began her career in communications at Yves Saint Laurent, and then took on the roles of Director of Communications for Tommy Hilfiger and Head of Communications for Celine, adding to her stellar portfolio. If you’d like to read more about the story being Atelier Mayer, and Carmen’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, keep on reading.
Who is Carmen Haid?
I consider myself a pioneer and an early supporter of circular fashion and sustainability. In 2007 I founded ATELIER-MAYER.COM, Europe’s first online platform for luxury vintage fashion and accessories. Within five years I managed to develop it into a global brand, trading in 104 countries. ATELIER-MAYER.COM published its own annual magazine — a supplement to Vanity Fair, and won numerous awards for Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Fashion.
In 2022 I re-launched ATELIER-MAYER focusing on vintage objects and interior with an online platform and a by appointment showroom in Marrakech. For over two decades I try to spot, nurture and connect new talent globally, as well as being an important part and integral contributor to fashion, especially in Morocco.
I started my career in communications at Yves Saint Laurent working alongside Mr. Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, then continued during the transition from a privately owned company to a luxury conglomerate. I worked with Creative Directors Hedi Slimane, Alber Elbaz and Tom Ford. Following a stint at British Vogue, I launched the then unknown brand CELINE under the LVMH umbrella in the UK as Head of Communications with Creative Director Michael Kors, establishing Celine as one of the top luxury brands. I continued to revamp brands and worked at Tommy Hilfiger in the capacity of Director of Communications.
Alongside my career ventures, I graduated with a BA in Fashion Management at London College of Fashion, and am a regular guest speaker at university programs. I’m a contributor to EXIT Magazine — an independent fashion publication, featuring global talent in fashion, music, design and subculture — which I helped launch in year 2000.
What’s your morning routine like?
Here is my 5 step morning routine:
A few deep breaths. Checking in to scan my body and mind. Drinking hot water with fresh lemon. Emails & phone calls. Yoga/pilates. Repeat.
You are the founder and curator of ATELIER-MAYER.COM, a global online platform for luxury vintage homeware and lifestyle accessories. Tell us the story behind the inception of the brand, and what were the most challenging aspects of running a business of this kind?
ATELIER MAYER is inspired by my late grandmother Klaudia Mayer, an Austrian haute couture seamstress who established her atelier in 1927 during the Viennese Secession — a movement formed by painters, graphic artists, sculptors, ceramicists, and architects including Josef Hoffman, Egon Schiele, and Gustav Klimt. Of particular influence is the work of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), cofounded in 1903 by a group of selected craftsmen, which helped lay the foundations for modernism. Its geometric forms were of radical cultural change and of stark contrast to the floral patterns of that time. The workshop produced everything from furniture, ceramics, textiles to glass and metalwork — leading some to describe it as the first ever lifestyle brand. It was all about making your life as beautiful as possible in a very curated way — A Gesamtkunstwerk —”A total work of art”
In 2007, 80 years after it first opened its doors, ATELIER-MAYER.COM launched as Europe’s first e-boutique for luxury vintage fashion and accessories — disrupting the way people shop for vintage and inspiring them to repurpose clothing in a stylish way.
Repurposing and celebrating craftsmanship is at the core of the ATELIER MAYER philosophy. In an age of mass production and over consumption, investing in and recycling vintage designs gives a new appreciation for existing pieces as well as helping to reduce our environmental impact. All ATELIER MAYER purchases are transported in packaging which is fully recyclable and has a lower impact on the environment.
In 2022, ATELIER MAYER returned with the pioneering Secessionist spirit for which it is known, only now combined with the finest craftwork Marrakech has to offer. From heritage maisons to unique designs by anonymous creators, ATELIER MAYER injects the spontaneity and surprise back into the shopping experience, whilst offering solutions for a more responsible way of living with less disposable and more vintage.
Customers also have the opportunity to shop bespoke pieces made by women artisans out of our studio in Marrakech. Through collaborating with this women’s cooperative, ATELIER MAYER seeks to celebrate tradition and craftsmanship whilst upholding techniques passed down from generation to generation.
The biggest challenge when I first started out was to convince people that the resale market will be the largest growing sector in the fashion industry in the years to come and that circularity is the only sustainable form of consumption today. Now more than ever we need to reduce our impact on the environment. Investing in fewer existing quality pieces and shopping made to order is one of the most effective ways we can do this. Reduce, reuse, recycle, repeat!
What criteria do you consider when selecting vintage homeware and lifestyle objects to add to your inventory? How do you ensure the quality and authenticity of the items you source?
When selecting vintage home wear, I consider factors like the item’s condition, material quality, design era, and uniqueness. To ensure authenticity, I research reputable sellers, ask for provenance or documentation, and examine labels, tags, or maker’s marks. I check for signs of wear, craftsmanship, and comparing with reference materials can also help verify authenticity and quality.
Three things you wish you knew before starting out?
Create — Manifest — Believe.
Biggest setback in life and what you’ve learned from it?
I see setbacks more as lessons in life, they help us to get stronger and better versions of ourselves. When you don’t get what you want, you have to learn something. Life is continuous education and a daily balancing act from scratch. Just need to accept that and be grateful for what we have. Trust your intuition always!
Books that changed your life
Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza
Advanced Energy Anatomy by Caroline Myss
Favorite female empowerment speech
I have two:
Hillary Clinton, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” (1995)
“You can recreate who you are. We are powerful beings and can change, unblock and extend our energy”, Karen Ruimy.
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