Bright, bold and vibrant prints in billowy, soft fabrics…sounds like a description of the perfect holiday wardrobe, doesn’t it? With ‘holiday’ weather practically all-year-round on the sunny North Coast, it would stand to reason that Ella Sol Clothing is all kinds of wonderful. We chat to the bubbly lady behind the brand at her home in Fish Eagle Ridge.
Kelly Bottcher is pure sunshine.
She is warm and gregarious, and you would be forgiven for thinking you are old friends after just a few moments in her company. As she leads the way into her bright, airy studio, one cannot help but be drawn to the piles and piles (and piles) of colourful fabric juxtaposed with rows of clothing. “I have always loved fabrics,” Kelly sits down and folds her legs up underneath her. “Obsessed, really, with colour.”
After she finished school, Kelly headed for the sea, working on yachts for seven years before returning home to work in merchandising, retail and homeware. “Part of my job was to travel overseas, to India and China to visit factories and trade fairs, which inspired me. However, my favourite was when I got the opportunity to explore the local fabric markets."
It was when her daughter, Ella Sol, was born, that Kelly had an epiphany. “When Ella was born, I felt like I needed to reinvent myself and figure out exactly what I wanted. And, so one morning while I was exercising I jotted down a few New Year’s resolutions. One of them, randomly, was to start a clothing brand.”
With a cupboard full of fabric, and a name: after her daughter, Kelly’s business began to grow. She designed a few key pieces and found a group of ladies who brought them to life. “I was learning as I went along. Mistakes were made, of course, but I chose to stick with it.” Kelly’s good friend and former neighbour Nicole, spurred her on: “Nicole would pop upstairs every day, look at my piles of fabric and ask what I was going to do with it. Whenever I would make something, she would wear it and post on social media. The clothing line started to take off, then.”
Kelly now works on Ella Sol full time, a move that has given her more time with her daughter. Her plans for the range are to keep it intimate and exclusive. “When you wear something from Ella Sol, I want you to feel special. Every piece of fabric has life, and a story, and it gives me the greatest joy when I see women feeling beautiful in our clothing.” Kelly also relishes the ‘pop’ her pieces give women. “South Africans tend to be very conservative when it comes to wearing colour. I love that Ella Sol says ‘I’m different. Why should I worry what others think?’”
When Kelly is not in her studio designing, she and her family enjoy life on Simbithi. “It’s peaceful and secure, and there’s so much to do! Honestly, it’s like dreamland, sometimes.”