DESIGNER FOCUS: ANDREW COIMBRA
How did you educate yourself on building your own business?
My father has owned his own business (in construction) since I was a child, so I’ve always grown up in and around entrepreneurship. Of course, fashion design and construction are two very different worlds, but the business principles remain very similar. After studying in both fine art and fashion design, I realized I needed real-world experience in order to best inform my future goals of having my own business, so I made a point of interning and working at several kinds of design companies in different roles.
What systems/softwares do you use to manage your business?
As an emerging designer, I make the most of the technology made available to me. Squarespace is the hosting platform for my website and they have great interfacing and oversight on data, in addition to things like Instagram and Google analytics.
What are the most important ingredients for building a brand?
I think it’s really important to have a clear idea of your brand identity. You need to know what your core values and aesthetic are so that you can create your own rhythm. Also - of course - access to some sort of financial capitol is important.
Defining a brand identity is a different process for every designer. Can you tell us about your experience?
In the beginning, when I was just launching the brand, I was very focussed on establishing a menswear brand that broke away from strict masculine confines. As the brand aged it became more important to expand that idea even further and make the core line more genderless, in value.
How do you balance your creative vision with the harsh realities of the fashion industry?
I think because my designs aren’t incredibly avant-garde, it’s easy for me to keep things reigned in a bit. The notion of it being genderless is still a challenge, but it’s a digestible challenge.
What are your studio must-haves for creating?
I need to have a clean space! I like to have things more or less organized and tidy because it’s just one less thing to distract me. Having my sketchbook handy is also a must.
Where do you source fabric and materials?
I like to source at least 50% of my collection from dead l-stock resources. In the past, I think a part of me was a little bit embarrassed to admit it, because it hasn’t always had the positive platform it now has, due to the sustainability movement.
Otherwise, I look to Italy, South Korea, Canada, the UK, and the USA for materials. It really just depends on the kind of fabric I am looking for.
How do you choose your manufacturers?
I choose manufacturers based on necessity, and based on volume of orders. I try to stay in Canada for production but that is just because it’s easier to manage for logistics and as a Canadian designer, I like the idea of having Made In Canada products.
What mistakes have you made and learned from on the business/administrative side?
I have had a couple of crazy and alarming instances where people claiming to be buyers have placed orders and almost have gone through with them - luckily I realized they were scams, after doing some due diligence and investigation. It’s incredibly important to always double-check the contacts reaching out to you and the terms you agree to.