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The Euro banker behind a £3.5m beach brand

Vera drossopulo bogdano and antonello benati

Vera Drossopulo Bogdano stepped away from a career in banking to launch summer footwear brand Manebí

Manebí co-founder Vera Drossopulo Bogdano left her fast-paced city job as vice-president of French investment bank Societe Generale in 2015, to focus on building her Italian summer footwear and resortwear brand. Founded with her friend and fellow Italian Antonello Benati (they are pictured together above) – the former CEO of Merrill Lynch Bank of America – Manebí grew from their desire to turn traditional Spanish espadrilles into a “style icon” suitable for all kinds of holiday activity.

The brand currently operates seven standalone stores across Italy and one in Ibiza. Products are also available via its website and from more than 300 stockists spanning 40 countries. These include Net-a-Porter, Le Bon Marché, Luisaviaroma and Matchesfashion. Retail prices for espadrilles range from around £75 to around £120.

Following an undisclosed round of investment from Milano Investment Partners (MIP) in March, Manebí is gearing up for global expansion. It expects turnover to hit over €4m (£3.45m) for the 2018/19 financial year.

What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

First port of call is always coffee.

What was your first job?

As an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, which I left in 2010.

How would you describe the brand in one sentence?

Manebí is made by summer lovers, for modern global travelers.

What’s your coffee (or tea) order?

A macchiato, please.

Manebi espadrilles (2)[7]

Where are your favourite places to shop?

Definitely Net-a-Porter.

Last fashion purchase? Why did it catch your eye?

A shimmering dress by Retrofête. I’m also a huge fan of Isabel Marant.

Emails or phone calls?

Either, I’m not fussy.

Most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?

Always stay true to who you are, hard work pays off and integrity is fundamental.

What would be your ideal office/meeting space?

An open space somewhere very bright and full of plants.

What’s your favourite part of the creative process?

All the research involved.

What has been your proudest moment since you launched the brand?

The investment from Milano Investment Partners (MIP), an Italian fund specialised in venture growth. 

What’s the last book you read?

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker.

Last holiday?

I went to Bali over New Year’s Eve. 

Who in the fashion/retail industry inspires you?

Emily Weiss, founder of [make-up brand] Glossier. 

Manebi espadrilles (3)[6]

What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion today?

I’d say creating unique products that people are willing to buy again over time.

One piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Get out there and do as many internships as you can – it will give you a better understanding of what you would like to do as a job.

Who do you turn to when you need advice?

My boyfriend.

What would we find you doing at the weekend?

If it’s sunny, I’ll definitely be at the beach!

What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?

My wedding this summer.

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