Meet Andrea Weinberg, CEO and Founder of The ANDI Brand
Confession time...I LOVE bags! Tote bags, a cute bag for work, another cute bag for workout gear and even reusable grocery bags. I have bags EVERYWHERE and it's truly getting out of hand, but since starting FITOutfit, I've become increasingly interested in finding good multi-functional bags that are also super stylish. I've been low-key stalking ANDI bags for a while now so when I researched the brand and learned about founder Andrea Weinberg's story, I knew I had to feature her. Love a good old fashioned entrepreneurial story and Andrea's story is just that!
Andrea is sharing her BEHIND the BRAND story of how a need to protect her new designer handbag turned into the functional and stylish ANDI bags!
Name & Role
CEO and Founder of ANDI
What is The ANDI Brand and what inspired you to start this line?
In 2009, I decided to get my MBA. I learned about a program through Duke that combined world travel and a business degree while still being able to maintain a mostly full-time job. I was working in corporate sales and so I began this very intense time in my life where I was working and studying, and traveling a lot for both. It was at this time that I purchased my first designer leather handbag. Although I loved it to death, I worried about what would happen to it when I was caught in the rain (umbrellas often don’t protect the handbag) and so I thought of an idea for a waterproof cover for a handbag. Essentially a bag that folded up very small that could then be used to cover another bag. During my time in studying in China, I brought the materials I had sourced and a pattern that I had made and the first ANDI ever was conceived (I still have it). I started using it and almost immediately it became my go-to bag because it was so light-weight and easy to carry. Then I started refining it to meet all of the needs of my lifestyle at the time which included the office, the classroom, the airplane and of course a lot of daily adventures. Eventually it incorporated smart pockets, a cross-body strap, snaps, backpack transformation and beyond. I still work to refine our signature ANDI which is currently in its 65th iteration. My goal is that every production is superior to the production before.
Accordingly, ANDI is focused on supporting humans on the move. Our products are crafted to balance aesthetics with purpose. Thus all of our fabrics and hardware and the placement of each are selected because they enhance the styling of the piece as well as the utility and meet our core tenet of durability.
Entrepreneurship is can be a tough gig so what's a day in the life like at The ANDI Brand?
Always always always an adventure – and that is what I love about it most. I never spend an entire day behind the computer – there is always someone to meet or something to see/do. I also work very hard to incorporate our mantra “Be Good to Yourself” into my daily life. As such, I challenge myself every day to practice wellness and life enjoyment. This is actually one of the most challenging parts my day.
What's been your biggest success thus far?
Seeing our bags on the street on random strangers. It now happens multiple times per week and I think it is more exciting each time.
Conversely, biggest failure?
This sounds so cheesy, but I really do believe that everything happens as it should. And so even in situations that didn’t work out as I had hoped/planned, I believe that each experience has played a key role in getting us to where we are today and where we are going tomorrow.
Top three things you wish you knew when you first started
1. How to sew
2. How to use social media
3. The importance of not taking myself too seriously
Top three tools/apps/technology you can't live without
1. Microsoft Excel
3. My calendar
Who's your professional crush & why?
I have a few from a billion walks of life but I guess in fashion I have to say… Sophia Amoruso. She just started building and obviously killed it but she did such a good job of focusing on her own work and her own ideas and not comparing it to others or copying what anyone else was doing. She essentially created a new space because of that. Her success reiterates that it is OK to be different and to do your own thing. But my favorite thing about her is that she seems to have had a ton of fun along the way.
Since launching the ANDI Brand what's been the biggest surprise or something you didn't expect?
Well I guess this is as good of a place as any to admit this…my biggest surprise is that ANDI has found a home in the fashion fitness community. I never actually intended for this to be a glorified gym bag – I just made it to be a life bag. But then Equinox was one of the first stores to carry it and currently a large portion of our retailers are in the fitness community. I love it because although I wasn’t specifically targeting this market originally, wellness is one of the core tenets of the life that we aim to support and so this is such a wonderful fit.
What advice would you give to aspiring active wear designers or fitness entrepreneurs?
I went into this blindly without a design, retail, manufacturing or fashion background. It is not going to be easy. It is one thing to face the challenges that you expect to come your way, but the hardest part is the challenges that pop up out of nowhere (and they will pop up). I think just like with anything in life, when starting something like this, ensure that your intention is in the right place. If you are doing this because you have an idea that you are just chomping at the bit to create – because you see such a strong need – OR – if you are just looking for an amazing adventure/challenge, I don’t think there is anything better than bringing an idea to life and then bringing it to market. I think this is all about the journey although of course we hope for positive results along the way.
The other piece of advice that I love to give is (and someone gave this to me early on): Align your priorities and actions to make sure your movement is forward. It is so easy to focus on unimportant details which can sometimes create friction but it is movement that isn’t forward, only side to side.
The ANDI Brand has had great success thus far so what can people expect for the rest of 2016?
For product development, we have a couple of very exciting partnerships for exclusive designs in the works which should launch late fall and during the holiday season. These are our classic silhouettes with very unique and new patterns/colors. We also have a Diamond Navy colorway launching this summer which will be sold on our site along with all of our major retailers.
And for media, we have a huge upcoming shoot which will show so much more of the lifestyle surrounding ANDI and our customers as well as more interactive video and content in general. Follow us @theandibrand !!
Extra credit: What's your source of motivation?
Messages from customers expressing how much they love their ANDIs. I have put everything I have into this venture and to see that it can bring joy to others legitimately brings tears to my eyes.
Which is your favorite ANDI bag? I'm still crushing on The ANDI Camo , but the Diamond Black is so versatile.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!