DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
Andrea Weinberg, CEO of The Andi Brand
We make innovative handbags to support awesome humans in their quests to be good to themselves. I love of adventure, my fellow humans, Earth and beyond.
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
AW: Funemployed to me is a mindset and understanding that I am the master of my own destiny and my own day to day. My path to funemployment was a corporate sales job, which allowed me to flex my entrepreneurial spirit and let my freak flag fly. And by “freak flag” I mean, the ability to express and share vulnerabilities. I once heard that humans form close bonds by sharing vulnerabilities, because this endears us to each other and also creates trust. After a year trying desperately to be super professional in an effort to close a deal, I gave up and decided to just enjoy as best I could, whatever meeting I was going on. And so I would talk about whatever was on my mind! From boy problems to getting kicked on the subway, I would open up even if (actually especially if) it was my first time meeting someone. I think people found it refreshing and building those strong relationships not only earned me deals and commissions, but the flexibility to make my own schedule, work from home, and eventually to have the confidence and resources to start my own company.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
AW: I was born with cheerleaders. I am extremely lucky to have been raised by overly doting parents who have always believed in me.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
AW: My first job out of college was working as a project manager for a company based in the US with operations in India. Essentially, our teams in a few different cities in India were going through scanned paper documents and gathering/indexing information. After 3 months of training and at age 22, the company sent me to India by myself to meet the people that I was and would continue to be working with. I was so scared to travel by myself, but going to a completely new place and working with a really good operation overseas with excellent values and quality assurance practices opened my eyes to the possibilities that accompany a globalized business world and the best ways to make these possibilities reality. Additionally, my background in sales and formal international business education have been extremely helpful as well. (DCF: Sometimes the greatest opportunities are the things we are most afraid of.)
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
AW: From heartbreak and disappointment. I can’t quite explain it but all of the most significant developments in the design of the signature ANDI bag correlate to a time over the past 5 years when I was feeling especially down, but then turned my attention, focus and interest toward building something that I love.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
AW: Balance is the ultimate aspiration! I am constantly searching for it and sometimes I catch a glimpse. I make the effort to meditate twice a day (20 mins in the am and 20 mins in the early evening) and also to exercise. The goal is to maintain a grounded perspective so that I don’t take myself too seriously (once I start taking myself too seriously, it all starts going downhill…).
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
AW: Blood, sweat and tears! No joke, from wandering through the industrial wasteland of Brooklyn to find a box factory, to carrying 50 pounds on my back to get supplies to our manufacturer en route from Columbus Circle to Jefftown on the L train in freezing rain, crying in the face of the most frustrating circumstances, but always committing to keep moving forward because I am just so curious to see what happens next. Also, side note – crying is the best. (DCF: I totally agree, there is something so wonderful about a good cry!)
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
AW: I think the greatest struggle is not being taken seriously, especially on the production side.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
AW: Ask for references – from everyone!!
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
AW: Oh man, I am really struggling with this question – and not because I don’t trip up or get rejected and not to sound like peggy positive pants, but I don’t really believe in failure. There are definitely things that didn’t go my way but that was just because it was a path that wasn’t meant for me. And I guess that is what I have learned from my failures – to believe in my path and to move forward on it, not to look back or dwell on what didn’t happen. (DCF: This answer is exactly why I ask this questions, our failures shape and mold us and I think everything happens for a reason so I love how you look at it!)
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
AW: Getting asked to be featured on The Funemployed! (DCF: Awww thanks!! And yes you are living your truth, that takes courage) Wow – I am a role model?! That makes me feel pretty good. Also, last fall, my grandmother came to visit and we went to see my best friend perform in a show at the Duplex. After the show, we walked with friends and family to a restaurant around the corner and ANDI bags were displayed in one of the windows at the Equinox in Greenwich Village. My grandmother (and the rest of my family members) stopped and basically had a photo shoot in front of the window. I was mortified at the time, but my aunt sent me one of the pics of my grandmother and it is my favorite. Getting to see her pride makes me feel really proud. I also really really love when I spot ANDIs being carried by strangers on the streets of NYC and getting emails from customers expressing how much they love their bags.
DCF: What’s next?
- We have a very cool collaboration with Equinox coming out this Spring and a very colorful collection hitting this summer, inspired by the Great Barrier Reef (I was there in fall 2016 and it took my breath away – I really hope we can all work together to save the reef! – DCF: Glad you got to see if because we are rapidly losing it so I love that you are bringing attention to it) and partially constructed from recycled plastics. I also have a few new styles coming including a mini bag, city wallet, and mommy accessories.
- We also are working on a number of social impact initiatives focusing on our message of Be Good To Yourself, Be good to Each Other (we are in this together). We are donating about 500 totes around Valentine’s Day to women in need stuffed with goodness including feminine hygiene products, soaps, Kleenex, makeup etc.
- Digital Marketing Strategy – we are working on getting our story and our message out there and really building a community focused on GOOD!
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