A few Sundays ago I attended a yoga class in what is one of my favorite hotels in South Beach, Soho Beach House. The house is almost secretly nested at the center of all the hustle and bustle of Miami Beach. Ironically, it’s location is as paramount as it is easy to miss; right before the epitome of Art Deco in Miami Beach, the huge and glitzy Fontainebleau Hotel, SoHo House as locals call it, is a beautiful little-hidden heaven for the bohemian, creative and intellectual South Beach visitor. The House has this charming, cozy, beautiful tree-house energy to it. We rushed pass the wood-smelling vintage lobby, through the cute shop, up a round staircase, through the spa rooms, and into the incense-infused yoga classroom to sit quietly in our lotus position, to get our bodies ready for yoga. As I closed my eyes, the images of the little two-story shop were vivid, fresh in my head; I remembered lace, colors, wood, a nice beachy smell, the wooden staircase, an old New York bookstore-meets-boho Caribbean island energy. I wanted to go back to this little shop! The seconds I rushed through it on my way to yoga had made me feel everywhere and nowhere in particular. It was lovely! The shop was curated with lovely taste, it was obvious someone had carefully crafted it carefully and organically adding pieces from trips, from conversations, from personal favorite items, from word-of-mouth, just as I decorate my house, not so much a one-time decorating experience but more of a collection of memories: sandals from Australia, a soap from NY, sunglasses from Puerto Rico, a teacup from Spain, a bikini from Curaçao… I wanted to meet the soul behind this process, and non-surprisingly, it was a woman. A cosmopolitan woman born in Europe raised in Latin America and living in this tropical paradise. Meet Amanda.
Profession or Passion/Title-? My passion is to travel. The owner of several beachwear boutiques in Miami Beach, Florida.
Where are you from? I was born in Miami but spent some years of my childhood in Madrid. My mother is half Norwegian half British and my father is from Spain. We lived in Madrid until I was 9 and then we moved to Mexico, DF. I moved to the US when I was 14, I was a swimmer back then, that’s why I moved to the USA, to continue training. I went to high school here in the US and then moved back to Mexico to go to Law School. From vacationing and from the times I had been here, Miami had always been a special place for me, because of the ocean and the warm climate. Every time I came to Miami I felt that this place was unique, there was something about this city. At 28, I packed only two suitcases and moved to Miami.
How did you get into this industry? I was working as a property manager and event planner for a celebrity, but it was very time consuming and I had the goal of becoming independent and working for myself. So my best friend said to me “you love fashion, why don’t you open a boutique in a hotel?”. I thought about it for a while, saved up, came up with an innovative concept and with the help of partnering with my brother, opened up my first shop in the Gansevoort Hotel in 2009. The shop was quite successful because nothing like it existed before. Hotel shops offered souvenirs and basics, but more generic. At my shop you find all sorts of essentials, full of character, mindfully and carefully picked. Each piece transmits a story, a feeling, they are beautiful and special pieces. I travel often and also select many of the items during my travels, which makes them even more unique.
The St. Regis Hotel in Bal Harbour approached me and I currently run that shop as well. It is interesting because the two markets are very, very different. The St. Regis clientele is mostly from Brazil, Russia… they have a very high purchasing power, the market in Soho House is more of a creative, bohemian, artsy crowd. Surprisingly, the dominant part of my clientele are men because they forget to bring certain essentials (giggles!), and also because they know exactly what they want, they are loyal in the sense that if they try something on and they like it, they purchase it. Us, women can be a little more complex, we think about it, we want reassurance that it looks good or that we don’t have anything similar. Men are very practical in the decision-making.
As a major goal, what would you like the impact of your work to be? My passion in life is traveling, traveling, food & wine. I enjoy experiences. I like my work to reflect that. I like my shops to reflect that part of me. I’d like to inspire. Regardless of how materialistic a piece of clothing may seem to be, a beautiful bathing suit, a pretty dress, a unique item makes us feel beautiful, it brings a thrill, an excitement about this new object in our lives. Especially considering that I work with people from all over the world, I know that when they wear the item they purchased at my shop, it will bring back memories of their time here, it will bring laughter, happiness, they will be transported to that moment. It fills me with joy to know that what I sell will make people feel that joy.
If you could publish an autobiography, how would you title it?
Honestly, I don’t think I would publish an autobiography. I am a very private person, I wouldn’t make my own life public. If I am approached and feel comfortable, I can talk for hours!! But I wouldn’t write a book about myself. I find autobiographies somewhat egocentric. I have an exciting life, but I believe we all have stories to tell and not one is more important than the other and I actually think there are people with much more interesting stories than my own!
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
I would tell myself to think more before making important decisions. I wouldn’t be quick to make a decision that can impact the rest of my life.
What is your choice of each of the following:
- A place: Cozumel, a small island on the Caribbean side of Mexico
- A moment in your life: It’s memories I lived in Cozumel, it was a crucial time of my life, I was very young when I lived there, from 12-14 and the happiest moments of my life were spent on that island. Then I was free, living day by day, not thinking about the future, just living the moment.
- The song: I don’t have a favorite song, but during that same time of my life my uncle owned a restaurant and during that time the song UB40 song Red, Red Wine was played often. When I listen to it, it transports me to that time of my life. I like island-life a lot, that’s why I like Miami because it is a combination of the city and beach life. When I’m older and retire I could live on an island.
Are you dreaming your dream life? I am. I love living in Miami, I love that there are people from all over the world. I love my business because it allows me to meet people from different parts of the world. I do what I love, I wake up happy every day with what I do. I can’t think of anything else!