ANNA Moody is bouncing around her Chilworth home, filled with energy chatting about various projects she has done, wants to undertake or would like to see other people engage in.
There are the talks she has done in schools in Greece, where she now lives most of the time, encouraging children to make more mindful choices about their lives, her plans for a fashion show here in Southampton with ordinary local women modelling her stunning British Brazilian range of clothing (you could be part of this, but more on that later), her ideas about communities pooling resources, objections to the wastefulness of cheap, throw away clothing and much more – all part of a general desire to actively make people’s lives better. The businesswoman has had a number of different careers in the various businesses she has run – model agent, graphic designer and now running her own fashion brand – but she’s keen to emphasise that above all, she’s an entrepreneur.
It is the passion for learning new things, networking, being creative, working with people, taking on challenges and that boundless energy that is the secret of her success, rather than carving out a specific niche for herself.
The former Barton Peveril student grew up in West End, where her parents still live, although she is now based on the Greek island of Rhodes.
She started her first business at just 17, making clothes in her parents’ living room and putting on fashion shows.
After a few years working overseas for Benetton, she returned to the UK and opened a Southampton-based modelling agency when she was 20.
“I’m an entrepreneur – I see business opportunities and what I don’t know, I learn very fast,” says the 46-year-old. “I ask people the things I need to know and I use the networks.”
After five years she sold the business so that she could travel more.
“I wanted to broaden my experience,” she says.
“Without seeing different cultures and having different experiences, how can you speak from a position of knowledge? If I’d stayed in West End, who would listen? I’ve made mistakes, experienced obstacles and had to get over them – and when you’re in a different culture you can’t necessarily do that the way you do here.”
Anna set up a successful graphic design business in Greece, but having her daughter, Ariadne, when she was 39 prompted another change of direction and a shift in attitude.
“I used to make a lot of money and spend a lot of money,” she says.
“But when I had Ariadne, something changed in me. I think if you’re making money and you haven’t got any responsibilities as such, you just spend.
But since I had my daughter, I haven’t wanted to waste money.”
Anna’s change of attitude prompted her to set up her own clothing business, British Brazilian, for which she creates ‘stylish clothes for the busy woman’.
Anna wearing a dress from her collection
When she started researching the business, she was horrified to discover the huge mark-up on clothing and felt that many brands were founded on exploitation – something she was determined not to be part of. Her fabrics come from Italian mills and her clothes are made by a small group seamstresses in Athens who had been put out of work by the country’s economic crisis.
“BB was born out a gap I saw in the market for well made, high quality fabrics and stylish clothes that were not based around trends or fashion,” she explains.
“We don’t put huge markups 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.”
She acknowledges that her clothes aren’t cheap, with dresses starting at more than £150 and trousers from £130, but as I can see from the samples she shows me, they are incredibly well made and are timeless styles that aren’t going to go out of fashion in a season or two. The clothes are made in small runs – forget factories churning thousands of the same garment. Anna’s clothes are made in runs of three dozen.
She wants to turn the tide against that rapid consumerism.
“I want to return our wardrobes to how they were in our mother’s days,” she says.
“Our mothers didn’t have four wardrobes bulging at the seams and 100 pairs of shoes. They didn’t buy clothes because they were cheap and would wear out after a few washes. They were more mindful, more practical and more focused on other things.”
Mindfulness is important to Anna – from her company investing a quarter of its profits into charity to encouraging people to spend less time thinking about acquiring shoes and more quality time with their families – it is something she lives as well as preaches.
“I thought to myself, ‘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 after a while.
“It became clear what I had to do: start making mindful choices about clothing, the garments journey. You can follow fashion or you can take a stand!”
You could be a British Brazilian model, have a makeover and win an item of British Brazilian clothing!
ANNA only uses ‘real women’ to model for British Brazilian – the photos on the company website feature her and her friends showing how great the clothes look – and she is looking for eight local women to take to the catwalk in a show she is planning to hold in Hampshire next month.
She stresses that looks aren’t important – attitude is what matters.
She is looking for sophisticated women aged 30 to 70 plus, who wear a size eight to 16 and who are classically stylish. The eight winners will be styled and coached in how to walk and turn on the catwalk, before taking part in the show and will get to keep a British Brazilian garment.
For a chance to enter the competition, answer the following question: Q: In one sentence, who do you most admire and why?
Shortlisted winners will be contacted for more details and asked to send a photo.
Send your answer with your name, address, email address and daytime phone number to: British Brazilian Competition, Sally Churchward, Southern Daily Echo, Newspaper House, Test Lane, Redbridge, Southampton, SO16 9JX or email firstname.lastname@example.org by May 7. Usual Daily Echo competition terms and conditions apply.