Amber Atherton Biography
Amber Atherton is a British entrepreneur. She is the founder of Zyper. Zyper is a marketing software company backed by Y Combinator. She is known for co-creating and appearing in the reality television series Made in Chelsea.
With her strong entrepreneurial skills, she also founded the e-commerce company My Flash Trash. Additionally, she also founded visual recognition app Rubric. She began modelling as a teenager.
At the beginning of her career, she appeared in Love magazine, i-D magazine and Tatler. She coded as a child and set up various businesses. This was before founding cult e-commerce company My Flash Trash when she was 17.
She sold My Flash Trash in 2016 for an estimated £2 million. It is however her role as a creator of the popular UK reality television show Made in Chelsea that catapulted her fame. Since then, she has focused on enterprise.
She has appeared as a Business Buddy on the BBC’s Young Dragon’s Den show, Pocket Money Pitch and judging the UK’s national enterprise challenge.
Atherton was listed as the “5th-Most Powerful Person in Digital Fashion” by British Vogue in 2011. Five years later, Atherton was featured in Forbes 30 under 30, Europe: Retail & E-Commerce.
Amber Atherton Age
Amber Atherton was born in Hong Kong. However she resides in the United Kingdom. She was born on 9th February 1991. Her current age is 28 years old as of 2019.
Amber Atherton Education
Amber Atherton attended Benenden Girls School. While there she was entrepreneurial too. She tried to undercut the school uniforms and used to sell CDs and books. She also sold other things to the other pupils, until the headmistress told her to stop.
Her attention span was quite low. She travelled around a lot when she was growing up. She went to several international schools, and she grasped the bull by the horns everywhere. She began her studies in fashion management at the London College of Fashion in 2010.
Amber Atherton Parents
Amber Atherton is the daughter of Jane Atherton and Wayne Atherton. She was born in Hong Kong. This was because, her father, a pilot for Cathay Pacific, was based there. Her mother is a nutritionist. She lives in her parents’ flat in Covent Garden, London.
‘I am studying for a degree at the London College of Fashion while my friends are all at red-brick universities. I’m not sure where my love of fashion came from but my entrepreneurial skills were definitely inherited.’ she said.
Born in Hong Kong, the daughter of an airline executive, Amber was always destined for a life of privilege. She spent her early years jet-setting between Hong Kong, Antigua and London. She has a sister called Yasmin. Yasmin, 18, is going to University College London in September to study physics.
Amber Atherton Jewellery
Spurred on by her success as a model, Amber Atherton began to import jewellery from Hong Kong. She sourced young up-and-coming designers and creating her own website.
She now represents 49 jewellers from around the world, including Icelandic designer Hafsteinn Juliusson, who has created a ‘growing ring’ filled with real moss, and Silver Service, which has created a pendant for Cheryl Cole.
‘I began to bring jewellery back from Hong Kong to sell at school,’ says Amber. ‘It went really well, but I had a lot of stock left over so I set up my website. Then I went to Brick Lane in East London on Sundays and began talking to designers there about promoting their jewellery.
Amber Atherton Interview
Q: How did your childhood experience influence your attitude to money?
Amber Atherton: I was taught from a very early age to make my own money and I loved that, trying to turn a profit from anything when I was young. I used to find stuff in my house and sell it back to my parents, like CDs that they didn’t think they’d bought or things that went under their bathroom cabinet. Then moving on from that, when I was nine, I started buying CDs and books from Hong Kong – where they were cheaper than they were in the UK – and then selling them online for a sort of profit. My dad helped me learn how to programme, it was a very simple site but it gave me a taste of being an entrepreneur and I remember feeling like it was the best day ever when I received that first cheque for £11.
Q: You attended Benenden Girls School. Were you entrepreneurial there too?
Amber Atherton: I tried to undercut the school uniforms and I used to sell CDs and books and things to the other pupils, and then the headmistress told me I had to stop. My attention span was quite low and I think, like a lot of entrepreneurs, I’ve always been this enterprising. We travelled around a lot when I was growing up so as well as Benenden, I went to several international schools, and I grasped the bull by the horns everywhere I was and took every single opportunity available to me.
Q: Are you a spender or a saver?
Amber Atherton: I’m definitely a saver but I also believe that money is meant to be spent, in the sense that you should experience things that money can pay for. But I’m definitely more geared towards saving.
Q: In addition to your bedroom retaling business you also made money as a teenage model…
Amber Atherton: That’s right. I did my first Harpers Bazaar photo shoot when I was about 13 and continued modelling throughout my teenage years. I was paid about £300 a day, which I saved up, and during that period in total I was probably making about £3000 a year, which was quite a lot of money for someone that age.
Q: Did you never try more conventional teenage employment like working in a shoe shop or doing a paper round?
Amber Atherton: No. I just pedalled some of my own stuff. I never really wanted to be employed. So I used to do dog walking, then I used to make cakes and sell them. Then I did a lot of internships starting from the age of 15. I clocked up about fifteen internships at various places including Vogue, Tattler and Hermes and for charities and fashion distribution chains. I’ve done everything from being stockroom staff to fetching people’s coats.
Q: In 2011, aged just 20, you joined the E4 reality programme Made in Chelsea as a cast member. How lucrative was that?
Amber Atherton: We got paid per episode and it was never really very much. It was more of an opportunity for exposure, rather than pay. I actually led a frugal existence but when you’re in the limelight you have the advantage of being asked to wear better clothes or going to try a restaurant, if you then tweet about it.
Q: You’d already launched your online jewellery retailer myflashtrash.com at that point, but what was the financial impact of your increased personal profile?
Amber Atherton: If you mean in terms of exposure for the business it was just nutty. It went national and the server crashed quite a few times due to traffic when it was mentioned on certain episodes. Then in tandem with that we were growing ourselves. We had, alongside Made In Chelsea, a lot of increased press coverage and a lot more celebrities buying our jewellery.
Q: How much of your own money did you invest to set the business up?
Amber Atherton: Initially I put everything that I’d saved – which was about £8,000 – then recently we got business angel investments.
Q: How much did they value the business at?
Amber Atherton: £3.1 million in January this year, which is obviously fantastic, but it’s been tough and I’m still in the office working every night until nine o’clock. But the hard work has been worth it.
Q: That’s massive growth very quickly. What are the forecasts?
Amber Atherton: We’re nowhere near where I want to be. We’re definitely looking to get our valuation up to £300 million at least, in the next five years. We want it to be at that level and I think we’re growing at a rate that’s ten times plus a year.
Q: Doesn’t that sort of expotential growth scare you?
Amber Atherton: I don’t really think about it to be honest. I’ve got such a drive, I know where I want to be and I keep growing every single day. We’re just not where I want to be yet. So for me I’m like, ‘just great, but we’re not there yet.’
Q: Does money make you happy?
Amber Atherton: It does, yeah, I think it does. Money gives you freedom. Time is the most valuable thing in life and money buys the ability to spend your time as you wish. I like what Johnny Depp once said about money: “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it buys you a big enough, fast enough boat to sail right up to it.”
Q: So have you bought yourself a private yacht yet?
Amber Atherton: I actually would never buy a boat because I think it’s a bad investment. I’d rather have a plane than a boat.
Q: Have you been browsing through any LearJet brochures since your £3.1 million valuation?
Amber Atherton: I have actually, but more out of dreams and curiosity. I’m definitely not at the level where I can afford a Gulfstream yet but it’s good to use these things as incentives.
Q: Has there ever been a time where you’ve been worried about money or you’ve had any debts?
Amber Atherton: Daily. When you’re running a start up business I think you’re very vulnerable especially where you’re desperately trying to manage your cash flow. Up until about a year or two ago I was paranoid about money all the time, but now I have learnt how to manage cash flow properly.
Q: What have been your best and worst financial decisions?
Amber Atherton: I think the majority of financial decisions I’ve made have been good, and when it comes to spending money I’m just not that risky. The worst incident was when I misread an advertising contract and ended up having to pay for an advert without it actually running, but now I’m ultra careful when I read the small print in all the contracts I deal with. I see everything as a learning experience.
Q: Do you give to charity?
Amber Atherton: I’m working right now with Ralph Lauren Breast Cancer Charity. My boyfriend’s mother is rowing across the Atlantic in December, so I’m helping him fund-raise for that.
Q: Do you prefer to pay by cash, card or cheque?
Amber Atherton: I tend to pay by card. I have a debit card and an American Express card that I never use. I bring it with me if I’m travelling, just in case, but I always just use my debit card.
Q: What’s the biggest current drain on your finances?
Amber Atherton: Renting in London is very expensive so definitely that.
Q: Have you invested in a property yet?
Amber Atherton: I came very close a couple of weeks ago to buying my first property, but it wasn’t the right one. So no.
Q: Any other investments?
Amber Atherton: I bought a couple of paintings and they’re in storage, but my jewellery business is my main investment and I don’t have a pension.
Q: What are your financial plans for the future?
Amber Atherton: I just don’t think you can plan that much. I feel like that’s fine in five years time. Saving for a pension scheme is just not for me. It’s not practical putting away £30 every month so for me it’s about saving what I have now and just being frugal and sensible with my money. And just keep growing the business that I have. I think if you’re running a start-up it’s very important you have money saved up because you never really know what’s going to happen.
Q: What do you like least about dealing with money?
Amber Atherton: I don’t really like coins. I find them an inconvenience. I’m a massive fan of phone payment systems like iVessel and Square, which you can install on your mobile. They use similar systems in Hong Kong and you can pay for everything with it.
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