This week’s guest is actually Michelle’s first guest who is an actual MC Design Collaboration client. Andrea Leslie is not only a savvy human resources professional and entrepreneur with diverse experience including technology (start-ups to Fortune 500), retail, and food/hospitality but also the owner of Maison A, her side hustle located in Morgan Hill, California. Michelle and Andrea will not only discuss her HR philosophy but also finding balance with client calls in different time zones while at the same time buying for her boutique and finally working on her newest hustle - her farm! Andrea is the definitive hustler and we're so happy to have her as a guest.
Andrea's Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/aleslie/_saved/
Andrea's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-leslie-phr-28440a1/
ep-16-Maison A / Owner & Entrepreneur Andrea Leslie
Michelle: Hey there. I'm Michelle Sherrier, and this is the retail whore podcast, the stories and Lessons from the Life and Retail. Hey, everybody, it's Michelle. Welcome to the retail whore podcast. Today is Wednesday, which means a brand new episode of the Retail Horror Podcast. Today's a special one. I have not interviewed any of my clients as of yet, so today is my very first client interview. I'm actually fresh off her store. We reset it for fall. Andrea Leslie owns a store up north called Maison A. It's this tiny little gem of a store that she sells gifts and apparel. And I'm super excited to bring her episode today. So without further ado, here is Andre from Mason A.
Andrea: Why? Andrea, how are you? Good. How are you?
Michelle: Thank you. Welcome to the retail podcast. Thank you so much for spending some time with me. I really appreciate it.
Andrea: No problem. Happy to be here and participate.
Michelle: I'm so happy. So a little back story so everyone knows Andrea is my client. Her store is Maison A you contacted me. It was a crazy story because I still tell this and people are like, what? We literally have been in shut.
Michelle: Pandemic shutdown for what was like to like maybe a month and a half into it. And you reached out to me on Instagram and you were like, Hey, just wondering if you're.
Andrea: Taking any new clients. And I was thinking.
Michelle: Oh, my God, we're in full shutdown. Yeah, I'm taking on new clients.
Andrea: Why not?
Michelle: And like, we literally preplanned because I didn't come see you until it's right about now. It's been a full year, so I didn't come like we planned stuff for, like, I want to say, like, three months. And then I flew out. We met on Zoom, flew out, walk the store, worked with you like total sight unseen other than a walk through your store. So I'm super excited. This is my first client interview, so I know more about you in the store. So it's going to be really interesting for me to be like dialing it back and not mention not talking and letting you explain because it's like I know so much.
Andrea: Yes. It was so funny because I met you. Yeah, we did the zoom and then you saw my master Excel spreadsheets. Oh, my God.
Michelle: So organized. Crazy. We're going to get into it in a couple of seconds. So I ask everybody, the first question is always, what was your first job and how old were you?
Andrea: Yeah, so first job was actually babysitting at the age of 13. I have my first job in retail. It's going to take you back. Miller's Outpost. Oh, my.
Michelle: God. That is crazy.
Andrea: That is 15 with the work permit.
Michelle: What were you doing for Miller's Outpost?
Andrea: Folding the denim. Oh, my God. The walls of denim.
Michelle: Now, were you folding and sizing at the same time where you're folding.
Andrea: Folding and sizing?
Michelle: It's so funny because Damon, who was my old partner at Sweet XO, and he was operations for Miller's Outpost.
Andrea: Oh, funny. It's seems.
Michelle: Appropriate. Now, tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
Andrea: Yeah. So it's interesting that I've always loved retail even. I remember one of my favorite pastimes as a child was making a store in my room and letting the adding machine, like, just go to town. That's amazing. Okay, sorry. And so I had to go with the paper printer, you know, everything. So when I was thinking about prepping for this one, I was thinking, you know, what is it? My favorite gifts from the past times. And I would say it's my adding machine and the slot machine that my grandma gave me. I don't know what they have in common, but those are my favorite gifts. And then just in terms of like, I don't know, my my dream was always to have a shop. I have a very different kind of style. I don't like the same things that everyone else has. Or if I get something that's mainstream, I always try to like personalize it to make it different and more unique. And I think that same approach is just reflected in what I do my home, my wardrobe, that Maison a.
Michelle: How did Maison A start?
Andrea: So it's actually it's funny story I started collecting pieces for what one day would become my shop and I remember how.
Michelle: Many pieces, little pieces.
Andrea: Vintage doors from a barn, random curated, just like an antique piece. It was so versatile. It was crazy. And so I just keep putting things in the garage for what one day would become my shop, etc. I remember one day I brought in these vintage.
Michelle: Barn doors.
Andrea: And Tom, I can't say, Oh my God, is this shop ever going to evolve or are you just going to take over the bay of the garage? And so that's just how it started. And I knew, you know, being in tech and how it was somewhat cyclical, I wanted to do a store for if I ever gotten laid off or whatnot, it would have it going. Then one day it was happening to drive by through downtown Morgan Hill, which retail space or any space really hardly became available. And so I was driving through one day and I see painted on the window and fluorescent green for lease. I thought, Oh my God, did I see that? So I flipped the car around, not even aware of my surroundings. God only knows what people must have thought. And I said, I have to go back and see that. I see that right from the car around. Drive by. Sure enough. Yep. It said police. Oh, my God. Awesome. So I call the number and talk to the person. And for anyone who would have seen this space when I took it over, it was so, so bad. Like, I'll give you an example.
Andrea: It had seven foot ceilings. Couldn't even put a Christmas tree in there without it. Plywood floors, pegboard walls. The HVAC was completely daisy chained. So if you can imagine, like, what my shop was like compared to what it is today. I remember taking my mom through and I was like, Mom, come see this space. I'm going to open a store. And she walked in and the first thing she told was, Oh, my God, this place, I feel dirty just standing in here. Is it, Mom? You have to have the vision. She's like, Well, clearly you have something that I don't have, but we'll see. I said, okay. And then I would meet with various reps for products that I'd want to bring in. And it was interesting because when they first saw this space, the feedback that I would get is I don't think the product lines, this is the right environment for those. I'm sure they're seeing this place that needed like major renovation. But nevertheless, like I worked with my contractor, built out the vision of what I had for it, that the products start coming in, put him out, hired the staff, and there we were.
Michelle: So what was the store before?
Andrea: Well, it had been a number of things, but most recently it was a hobby shop that had oh gosh, I would say a 20 foot slot car track on the full right hand side of the space.
Michelle: No wonder they went out of business.
Michelle: How much time was your rent for?
Andrea: I think renovation probably took about a quarter. Okay. Yeah. When I had first asked the landlord to know, is it possible to raise the ceilings, the 12 foot ceilings or whatnot? They were a little bit skeptical just because I didn't have an established rapport with them. But we had a mutual friend who was our architect. And so I asked Architect, Hey, can you please talk to them? Tell them kind of, you know, our style, what we do and how we build things out. And so he talked to them and then they said, okay, sure, no problem. Then the Leonards were so, so happy with how things went.
Michelle: Oh, no doubt. I mean, it's so beautiful. I can't. You've told me what the store like before, and it's like it's hard to stand in there and and understand what it.
Andrea: Look like before the storage.
Michelle: I can only yeah. I can only imagine your reps though, standing there looking at it going because I've had that with apparel lines like when I buy for Burt's Pharmacy, it's like a super cute, pretty established line and they're like, Yeah, I don't think a pharmacy is really what we're not. It's not appropriate for a pharmacy. Right. Well, apparel is the number one selling thing, just to let you know. But I get and now it's like I actually now I walk in and it's less now about me. And now.
Andrea: I'm like.
Michelle: I don't even know if you want to sell to me or a pharmacy. I'm just going to be super upfront. I mean, we're a pharmacy that does a lot of business, but I get that you may not want to be in a pharmacy and now I don't have the problems, but man like I can imagine coming in to see the.
Andrea: Store that old.
Michelle: Way of like.
Michelle: I don't know, it just didn't really feel like.
Andrea: Us all. Hey, let's meet on the card table. Please show me your fabulous product for a change.
Michelle: So I know I've always said this, like, from the moment I met you and you started telling me more and more about what you.
Michelle: And your other side hustles. So Maison A is a side hustle, like it's straight up. You have a very full time job and it's not like just a kind of full time job. It's major. So tell everybody, what's your main hustle is.
Andrea: Yeah. So being in Silicon Valley, i do. H.R. So human resources for tech companies.
Michelle: And you have plants in china and.
Andrea: Mexico. So in my existing world now, so we have four manufacturing plants throughout the US and then also in Mexico.
Andrea: And you are doing this because I, I know when I'm done set up you're like, oh well I've got calls at 3 a.m. and then 4 a.m. and then you, you have your normal hour calls and then you'll come into the show. Up after that and still spend like after I've gone. I know you stand on to like 7:00 at night. How in the hell do you do that? It's always been my question, but now I'm going to ask you as a recording.
Andrea: How you guess so I guess the best way to put it, I'm a total planner. Right. But I also I love what I do. So I'm the type that I love to build things, whether it's a business, a high growth company, teams or people. Right. And so I think I just get my passion and energy from doing what I do right. I always love a challenge, but at the same time, I just have to be super, super organized and planning. So when I think about it, I plan for the year, the quarter, the month, the week, the day, sometimes the hour, right? But I always am planning for the unknown as well as with anything, especially since I'm juggling things that are complete opposite world, so to say. Right. I just have to be super, super organized.
Michelle: So do you have like. A planning schedule for a and then a planning, obviously, for your main hustle. Do you do you have two separate calendars, two separate to do list shoes? I mean, how what does that look like on paper?
Andrea: Yes. Yes. So I have completely different schedules and calendars. And then if there's times. No. That I'll block things off. But I try to keep it very, very separate and and just juggle between them so that things don't get muddied up until, I'd say a couple of years ago. Right. I also had the restaurants that were in there.
Michelle: So here we go to.
Michelle: Where you see my mouth just drop open like you also had a restaurant. So talk a little bit about that.
Andrea: Yeah. So it's interesting. I would say for the past, gosh, what is it past though? There's a 13 year time period there in which I also had the restaurants to restaurants. And so any given time for a majority of that time, I had all three. I have my regular job and I got my regular job right, but I had my primary job and that was always in tech. Then I'd have my side hustle, which was Maison A. And then I also had another side hustle, which would have been the restaurant, right? I didn't realize.
Michelle: All three of them were going at the same time.
Andrea: Yes. Wow. Yes. And and one of the restaurants that I had the time was a Wingstop, right out of high volume Wingstop location in San Jose. And then Wingstop, those hours there are until midnight every day. Right. So and it's just my style. Like, I can't sit still. I'm always busy, but then I'm also always checking in and like proactive what's going on? So there could be times in which I may be hitting all three locations in one day, just doing like pulse checks of what's going on. But I also like really embrace and empower the staff that I have. Right, because there is no way I could do this all by myself. Yeah. So you have to embrace that and then sometimes like let things go.
Michelle: So that, that that's a really valid and big point that I want to go back and kind of unpack a little bit is about embracing your staff and giving them power. Because I think and I've said this before in other interviews, I think that people think that they can do it best themselves. And it's very hard to let go of control. And it's almost it it works against you in so many different ways. So talk a little bit about what that looks like, what empowering an employee looks like.
Andrea: Yeah. So I think so. It's important to note that one of the philosophies that I live by, right, is to train or provide people with opportunities so they could go anywhere, but you treat them so that they never want to leave. And I think I think that's really powerful. But it's also like how I embrace everything. So there may be people out there that have a better idea of how something can be done or more efficient because they're working in that environment every day. Then what I may see. Right? And so I always think if you have a more collaborative approach, right, people are more one engaged in what they do. It provides a better experience for the employees and your customers. Right. Because in any business, there's two common denominators. There's people that experience, right? Without a customer, I don't know, a business it is the lights don't go on. Right. They're paying the bills to keep things going. So I always try to say, tell people, hey, if you have another idea, I'm always open to suggestions. Hey, I'm. Maybe I'm stumped over here. Can you please help? What do you think of this or. I just want another set of eyes or an opinion. Right. It's okay to ask for help.
Michelle: That's. I mean, you were like I've said before, you are one of those people that you I think the reason why your your success in being able to juggle so much, I think obviously has everything to do with that empowerment. And and I know Simon Sinek says it and I know that a lot of people say it's about giving people the power and making them feel important and needed. And I think that there's so many I mean, you've heard me conversations about people. I know that it's like I it's not shocking that they are down people. It's not shocking. They have a high turnover. And I think that if more people took that approach and understood what it was like to empower an employee.
Michelle: Much more that's going to enable them to grow as well as the employee to grow? Because I think that that key of giving them tools to go wherever from there, whether they stay with you forever or whether they go on the next job, is giving them enough tools. And that's to. Watching from afar is really amazing. I mean, I'll tell you that because I haven't seen any of the other businesses, but I've seen the one. But to know what you do out there, obviously you're doing something right, because there's no way all these balls can be in the air without a nervous breakdown or without something falling. I mean, to be honest.
Andrea: I mean, at the end of the day, remember, there's a war for talent, right? Everyone is competing for talent. There is always going to be someone who can pay more. There's always someone who can pay less. Right. And so when you look at maybe it doesn't matter the business, it is the role, etc.. So if you keep that in mind and it's people want to feel like they're adding value right to anything that they do. And so if they feel like, hey, you know what, this person respects me as a person, they appreciate the contribution that I bring to the table. Right? Yeah. Maybe I could be making a few more bucks here or there, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to where do they want to spend their time? Yeah.
Michelle: I think that's I think that's and that's huge. So just as an HR question, what is what are one of the biggest challenges you have when you had all three balls in the air? But what are one of the biggest challenges that you had then as far as employees? And how how would you handle that situation?
Andrea: Yeah, I would say. I think the best piece of advice you can give someone is to communicate, right? Communicate expectations, communicate anything that may impact the business positively or negatively or unknown. Right. Just communicate as frequent as possible. Does it have to be long, drawn out things, but just making sure that everyone's rowing in the same direction? Right.
Andrea: I think that alleviates a lot of the problems because people at least know, hey, we know what's going on. We know what to expect. Hey, we better plan accordingly to make our lives easier as well. Right? So, for example, if it was time, let's say, at the restaurant and I would be planning for Super Bowl, Super Bowl planning would take place a month before the actual event. Right. Just to make sure we're so streamlined. If you look at the shot, let's say Christmas, Amazon A, you know, before when we didn't have as many of the logistics hurdles that we have today, but that product would come in in December and July. So then it was priced, quality, checked, themed, organized well in advance. So then it made time for Christmas. It was so much easier for all of the setup, right? Even when my HR job there, I look at it and it's like I always tell people, communicate, right? Make sure everyone knows one, what the expectations are and to how they're contributing to the organization.
Michelle: So it's not just communicating the, quote, orders of the day. It's also I need you because this is why you're important to.
Michelle: And this is what do you also lay out the expectations at that point, too?
Andrea: Absolutely. So I would say this is what I expect. And we look at it like a calendar at a glance. Right. So always have that going for anything and I share it. It's very open the calendars there and I say if there's anything that comes up, please put things on here. Right? We're all working off the same calendar and it provides more visibility as well. Everyone's planning ahead for those types of activities because it couldn't be further apart, but they may all be busy like it's inevitable. Q4 for all of them is always a busiest time.
Michelle: Yeah, I can imagine how many people are on a shared calendar.
Andrea: Um, it can be anywhere from a minimum of three. Minimum of three up to like ten.
Michelle: Well, I can imagine it's a lot that's a.
Andrea: Lot of balls. And then I had them thinking, but then I try to keep them as separate as possible.
Michelle: I the communication thing for me is like the one thing that will literally leave me banging my head on the counter is like, where? Because I'm like an over communicator, like, because I have so many balls in the air and I have so many different projects. It's always like, just want to make sure we're all going in the same direction. I'll be here. It's when there's no communication and then you get to a location. It's like, What happened? Well, we did X, Y and Z and it was like, Was anyone going to loop me into the conversation? Because now I'm completely lost about where we're at. But it's that's always like emails, text. Just let me know. You got the email. Got it. Thanks so much. I don't need a long diatribe response, but just communicate like I literally that's the one word. And that must come from anthropology because it's so communication heavy, both with reports and whatnot. But that is, I think, like the key to successful business or an unsuccessful business is how much you're communicating with within with each other.
Andrea: Yeah, I said I'm a text away. Right. But I also think it's important like when you're communicating, communicate the good, the bad or things for areas of improvement, right. So that everyone sees. So I have no problem saying, hey, you know what, this was like the best month ever. Let's reflect what did we do? You know, and I will always compensate too, because I think that it kind of goes hand in hand, right? I tend to be more like overly generous sometimes. That's a feedback that I get, but it's just my style, right? But even if there's areas where let's say we're not trending so much in the right direction or we're starting to see gaps. Right? Hey, let's talk about this and brainstorm. What could the reasoning be? Are there any is there anything we can do to improve? Right. And so just having that open communication, I love that.
Michelle: Yeah, I think it's also it's not somebody saying, look what happened. What you leave it as a question like how how do you think we can make this better as opposed to like I've worked for companies where it's like we didn't hit the number and it's all about like what we did and there's no conversation about why do you think it didn't happen? It was just like like you just literally dropped in your lap about like how you missed the mark and this is what went wrong. And there's.
Michelle: Conversation at all. And I think that's hard for the employees, too, because you're just like standing there slack jawed, like, I don't even know what to say because obviously we're we're not going to talk about.
Andrea: So I always have I usually start with why it's a three letter word, but it's one that like it can kind of get going down a rathole too. Right. But why like, why is it like this or why did that happen? If I just start with one simple word and the it's why it's such a powerful word, right? Because there's so much information that can come out of just asking the simple why. Yeah, right. And then I think one other point is just, you know, there's many different work styles, right? And so what I found is that I can pivot on a dime, right? But I know that that work style isn't the same for everyone. Right? Some people, they really need to finish this project or in their perfectionist or whatnot, right before they move on to something else. Or someone else may work right in a very scattered environment. Right. That's their personal preference in working style. So I know that there's many different types and it's not a one size fits all. But what I try to tell people is, you know, sometimes we can't work on a project and completely finish it from start to finish. So we have to leave it where it is, make sure it's good enough. Right. Leave it. We come back to it in an hour, a day, a week, maybe three weeks, right? That's okay.
Michelle: Wow, that's great. I don't think a lot of people you're right because there are so many different work styles. I know. I'm like all over the place. Like, I can do something and I'm doing a little bit here, a little bit there, and I get the add thing where it's like dog with a sock. You can't I can't let it go. It's like, so it's nice to have it's always nice to hear somebody that size. It's okay. It's good enough. Like let it go here and let's move on to the is that more for efficiency of like keeping it moving or is that more for the person so they know I can stop obsessing about this one thing.
Andrea: It's combo, right? So sometimes just to keep things moving, we don't have time necessary to completely finish this. We'll come back to it because we have other pressing priorities, right? Sometimes it's also just an engagement and interest level sometimes. And people are only. Working on one thing and it's just the monotony. It gets boring and they don't do their best work there either. Right. And so it's like, okay, let's come back with a fresh set of eyes and we'll regroup and pick it up later. Right.
Michelle: That's great that that's such a great observation for somebody to make and to be able to recognize. I can tell you're getting tunnel vision. It's not you don't look engaged any more. You look hyper focus like let's walk away from right now. That's really great and refreshing to hear someone say that because I think that most people are so caught up in their own thing, it's like let them do their thing.
Michelle: Yeah. So and I know.
Michelle: I've asked you this before, so because you were so many different hats, how, how do you change them? And literally because the job that you do, your main hustle and the store are two totally different hats. I mean, operationally, there are a lot that are same, but creativity wise, they are very different. How how do you change hats and how how difficult or easy is that to do?
Andrea: So I guess I would say to find the balance. I'm super proactive. Right. And then I would say. Citibank did very detailed planning, but also planning for the unknown. Right. Because at any point in the day. Anything can change with either one of those with either one of the jobs. Right. And so the most structure that I can have, the most foresight that I can have as well. The better off I am. But it's just being able to plan for the unknown.
Michelle: But even for like creativity wise, because I you know, I know I asked you this like and we'll get down to this a little bit later. But you I've asked you when you've come in, you're like, Oh, I bought this, that and the other. And I'm like, When are you doing this and when are you doing this creative process?
Andrea: So that creative process usually takes place late night.
Michelle: That is what blows my mind. Like you.
Michelle: I think your quote was.
Michelle: I do this in bed. It's like shopping and I just am going through catalogs and this is what I find relaxing. And I literally it was like, what?
Andrea: Yes. Yes. That is totally my downtime, right. Where one may look like Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or whatever it may be, clubhouse, right. And different things. I'm working towards a shop, so it's like I'm still maximizing the time that I have, but part of it is just this comforting. I find it peaceful. I'm sure I'm weird. I just. I find it peace when I sit there and I'll. I'll look at different things. I flag it sometimes. That's when I'll put through an order, because I just have time and I'm really focused on something. But then there's times where I wake up in the morning and I'm like, Oh, did I dream that or did I actually do that? So I go back and look, okay, yep, I did it or it's in my cart. I need to process that.
Michelle: So are you is everything you're doing at this point at night, is it online or are you going through physical catalogs both full?
Speaker2: So usually I'll have like a glance through a catalog and I'll just dog ear different things and then I'll go on because I found that many of the vendors, they have different things online than they have in the catalog and so oftentimes are spending. It's like online exclusive or maybe I'll look for something and it sold out that was in the catalog. So I've got to supplement it with something else from either that same line or a different line, right? To keep that common theme.
Speaker1: The last thing I want to do when I sit in bed is.
Speaker2: The idea of that.
Speaker1: I guess as it is right now, if I go to sleep and I wake up like so I'm working on the Grand Canyon project and I'm finding myself already. I haven't even done my original walkthrough yet and I'm already finding myself at 2:00 in the morning I'm awake and now I'm thinking about walkthroughs and displays of a place I've never even seen. I think I'd be so freaked out if I started doing that. Like, I would literally never I wouldn't. I feel like I'd never turn off. But that is relaxing to you.
Speaker2: It is is I think was, you know, my primary hustle. Right? I'm on the phone so much on the Zoom meetings, interacting, getting things out that it's like I mean, that job I'm moving all day along with just different things. So when I'm actually sitting there and I just have time to like decompress and I'm just visualize sourcing or just looking at different things for me that it's.
Speaker1: It's calming that makes I can understand that, especially because it's literally two different brains that you're working. And and that's always was I was always just I mean, I'm still just amazed.
Speaker2: By that end of the left brain, right brain, right rather than like on Pinterest and just browse aimlessly here. It's like I'm browsing with the purpose.
Speaker1: I like that.
Speaker2: Browsing with the purpose.
Speaker1: So tell me how Mason has changed over the years from when you opened up and tell me about some of the lines that you carried to where you are today and some of the lines and the style and the products that you're carrying now.
Speaker2: Yeah. So I would say Mason is definitely evolved. We've matured, right, in terms of both just the product offering and categories in which we're selling to the various levels of quality and products. When I started the store first, there was nothing around, right? I would say like the clothes. If you needed to buy a gift, you'd have to go about 45 minutes without traffic to buy something. Wow. Right. Like a good gift if you want to go to a mall, let's say. Right. And so it's like there has to be something better. So I was originally filling a gap, like filling the need, you know, at the same time I wanted to make sure that there was something for everyone from a price point, because I think the worst thing you can do if someone comes in and they feel like, Oh, God, I can't afford to buy anything in here. Yeah, right. So you can still give a beautiful environment to experience atmosphere and it takes the cake is Oh my God, and the prices are totally affordable, right. So I always have focused on that and I would say. Apparel being the latest category is that you would be investing in. Right. So it just keeps broadening it out. Initially, when I started, it was a lot more like home decor kind of things and maybe like accessory pieces.
Speaker1: Or some of the lines that you carried.
Speaker2: Then one thing that I've always carried from my candle is Rosie rings from the inception. I think I had done like a lot of the creative co op was a big brand that I love their style and yeah, there was some Faraz. What else? Yeah. Then the baby line. So it was like carrying at the time. And Joseph for I don't even know, like little me or whatnot. But then over time, you know, I've added like the Annie Sloan chalk paint.
Speaker1: Which is I mean that you said that's kind of what carried you through that. That was a huge part.
Speaker2: Oh, my gosh. Totally. Because people are home, you know, they're tired of looking at their space. They want to change something. I don't think you should always have to go out and buy new throwing on a color makes a huge difference to a piece. So during COVID my oh my God, we were shoveling paint all the time. It could be from slants all the way up to Palo Alto, for example. Right. So yeah. And just and again, it goes back to the customer experience. So in the person calls, you know, I would have my primary hustle all day and I would say, okay, if you give me some time, you'll have your product this evening, right? Yeah. Or I'm going to, let's say San Jose tomorrow to drop off paint for another customer. Is it okay if I bring it to you then and you have no idea how many customers just from the sheer fact that I say I'll bring it to you this evening.
Speaker1: Oh, that customer service is unheard of. I mean, and I think that's what put your store so far above others is that one. Everybody was shut down. It was like freaked out about even leaving your house and you were like, you know, you were still like literally going the the literal extra mile to bring people something. And I that's a customer experience that you that's the first I've heard of. I mean there's very few people that I know of that did that the girls at Kingfisher Road were doing that as well. And a couple of people, it's like most people are just shut down and turn it off, shut down and close the door and we're just going to wait it out.
Speaker2: Yeah. No know I would go the customers would see I'd had the masks, the gloves, their product came in a sealed Ziploc bag, insight into the product in the bag, inside a Ziploc bag. So I'm bringing it to them, putting it on the porch or the front gate texting when it's there. Right. So it's all that contact list just because this pandemic that we're in. Right. But then just knowing, hey, oh my God, this person brought me the paint, it could be even like 8:00, 9:00 at night. I said, don't be spooked. I'm going to come by 9 p.m.. So I made a fortune. But just so you know, and I will text you and that was like, oh my God, really? You know.
Speaker1: That's me. I mean, that that speaks volumes. I mean, it really it really does as well as speaks volumes about you do what you need to do to keep your business going.
Speaker2: Yes. Yes.
Speaker1: So for your store, so people like what is the square footage of your store.
Speaker2: 1800 square feet.
Speaker1: And how much? Just so people know, because Annie Sloane, obviously. Did you start with Annie Sloan or did that come in later?
Speaker2: No, it came in after. So any phone was an investment.
Speaker1: So with the home decor part, that was like a perfect marriage. How much square footage? Square footage is dedicated to Annie Sloan?
Speaker2: Oh, gosh.
Speaker1: Someone asked me because I work on this.
Speaker2: Yeah. I mean, what do you think?
Speaker1: Like maybe 200 square feet?
Speaker2: 200 max, I'd say maybe. Yeah.
Speaker1: I mean, that's I, I there's a store up here that I'm like, I really think you should look into doing it because it's just, I know it's a major investment, but it's just, it's just one of those things where it works perfectly with home merchandise and home decor. And I just it's such a great line. So I loved hearing the story.
Speaker2: Of you driving.
Speaker1: Around and Sloan.
Speaker2: Yeah, I mean, it's an investment, right? So it's one that, like, I knew that I wanted to do, but I couldn't afford to do it up front, you know? And so it was like literally I would get a bonus from my primary hustle and then I thought, okay, I'm going to reinvest it back into the business, right? And so that's when I did the anti selling.
Speaker1: That's great. I. How so? When you first started doing this is totally not even on the questions. How did they come out and do the training or they just kind of send you your massive package and here's all the how to's or.
Andrea: Oh, no, it's a it's a process. So, one, you have to qualify in order to carry any slogan. So being a premium brand and they want to make sure that it stays very boutique, they don't want it in the big box stores. Right. So you would submit an application, go through this process, you'd actually have like an interview with the people they want to know about your shop. They want pictures of your store, how you would plan on carrying it, how you would plan continuing education for it. Also, what would you be doing for customers, right? So that the questions were a lot about that. And then if you were selected to carry it, then you would go out to New Orleans for a week long training. Wow. Yes, you pay for everything. It's on your dime or you do. So at a minimum, it would be like the store owner or end or someone else they want to bring. So you go through and they did a fabulous job with the different trainings, the techniques, things of that nature. You know, you have to carry all of the colors which you'd want anyway. But there's also like fabrics. Fabrics in my shop. It didn't make sense, you know, so I didn't do that one. Luckily, now they're coming out with, like, wall paint, which is super exciting, right? They just announced that. But it's keeping making sure you have all the product. I go to their learning sessions that they have throughout the country. Wow. Is it to date? She does a lot of tutorials. We also do classes for customers as well. Yeah.
Michelle: Oh, my God. I had no idea. Do you get in the store? Do you.
Andrea: Do store? Oh, wow.
Michelle: So do you. Is that how the little pink tables that was that one of the lessons. The pink table that's in the store.
Andrea: That's one that we did. We showed them, yeah, this is how you can do it. And here's three different techniques because it can be brown.
Michelle: How many people show up at the classes?
Andrea: Usually we'll do 6 to 8 people, depending on what we're teaching, just so that there's enough spaces. With all the product that I have, it's hard to write and you want to put them out back. So we'll do a session on, let's say, a Sunday from 1 to 3 and offer snacks. This is before the pre COVID or whatnot, but people would come for snacks, so we would do a training on like 3 to 5 different techniques and then they would get a discount for anything that they bought in store. Wow.
Michelle: I'm learning something completely new right now.
Michelle: How often do you do? I mean, because all I can think of in the back of my head is what an amazing way to drive traffic into your store, not only for the pink, because now they're in their store, and now there's all this other great stuff to add to their home. How much do you do these events?
Andrea: We were doing them quarterly.
Michelle: What was the last one you did? Pre-covid?
Andrea: Yes, pre-COVID.
Michelle: Do you have any plans to do one coming up?
Andrea: We have a lot of demand for it. So now it's just working in terms of the time and the space because it's shows about people.
Andrea: What about renting a space, like going renting like an empty, you know, an empty storefront or something like that and having most like a a not conference, but like a whole event where it's a whole afternoon. You can have like 100 people and you're up on a stage with a microphone.
Andrea: And we could totally do that. We, we were trying with wreath making class last year and having a Massachusetts out in an open space, but it still covered. It's just that it still wasn't the right timing. People weren't comfortable coming out. Yeah. So we'll see how things go now and then. Whenever we try to do something, we make it. So what they're working on is something functional. So we'll do a technique and then maybe they're making like a lazy Susan or something they can use or gift. How?
Michelle: God, I've always done all these ideas, like you should buy unfinished something and then have a whole crafting class of like all these people are doing a lazy Susan and you take your Lazy Susan with you. You've learned something like, Oh my gosh, so many options.
Andrea: Yeah, I know that board...
Michelle: I mean, it's not off topic. That's like that wasn't in your questions.
Andrea: So you know the barn. Michelle That's one of the things oh my gosh.
Michelle: That's a whole other sentence. So I've always said this and I I'm very open on Instagram on stories like your store. Part of the beautiful thing about working at your store and I enjoy so much as a you have all the props and risers and I don't mean the shitty plastic. Risers that I. You have. You have all the props and trays and crates and these beautiful things to merchandise with for architecture, as well as all of the flowers plants like apple twigs. What not like you, you are one of the most dialed in buyers. I've literally worked for it. I've worked for everybody. And and one of the things I've always said that was so when I saw your spreadsheets and you sent them to me for holiday, I mean, I mean, just the organization of that alone was like I mean, I honestly have never worked with somebody. And it's like there's this is like pure praise because I've never worked with somebody that was that organized, that sent me spreadsheets. And they weren't like, your buys aren't all over the board. They are so dialed in, both in color and theme and the props that go with them to the foods that you bought with. I mean, it is it truly is as a merchandiser. It truly is such a joy to be able to work in that environment. Like have your guys always been that dialed in or is that kind of evolved as you've gone along?
Andrea: I'm sure it's evolved over time, but to be honest, yes, I've pretty much always been that directional.
Speaker1: Do you? Because the other thing, too, is I and I fall into this with Burt's to say, you know.
Michelle: All curate little concepts and we'll have like four or five concepts. And sometimes like I've now started to kind of dial back some things and make it less stuff and more important. Not bigger, but more important pieces where it's not like you have all these little things that may go with the concept. I've kind of taken away all of that. Like, your buys are very light there because you you're not all over the board and it's like, do you have a limit of SKUs, say, for like your holiday? That's coming up. I know we're doing one that's like a bakery theme. Like, do you have an amount of SKUs in your head? Like, I don't want to go over this many SKUs. Or is it just kind of happen naturally?
Andrea: I think it happens naturally. But then I also look at the budget, so I'll say, okay, if I'm going to spend X amount on holiday, right? And I need to cover and I map out in my mind what parts of the store I'm going to cover, right? And then how can I maximize that theme but also stay within the financial budget that I'm looking at? Right. And then in the Excel, you'll see where the different work tabs are for different lines, right? And so then I'm like, okay, I'll perform this line and it's going to go back in this theme, right? So just by kind of building out already on paper how and where things will go placement wise in the store at a very, very high level, it helps me kind of gauge, okay, what should I be buying? What do I have that I can blend in?
Michelle: Do you print out everything and work on one big storyboard or are you just able to flip back and forth in between a spreadsheet? Because I have to see everything in front of me. I can't. That's why I can't deal with PDF catalogs because it's too much back and forth.
Michelle: Do you print it out or are you able to flip?
Andrea: I'm all digital. Okay.
Michelle: Wow, that's impressive. So do you ever forget about something that you bought?
Andrea: Sometimes. Yeah. That's why I thank God for the Excel. And if I told some people, they'd be like, Oh, my God, you're nuts, right? But that's where it's like, I'll kind of go back and say, okay, in this Excel, let me go through. That's why if you notice, everything has a picture, right? I mean, I think me a boatload of time. It's significant time to put together, no doubt. Right.
Speaker1: Let's put it this way. You what you're doing is an essentially what a buyer that that's all they do as a job. They don't go to another job. They don't go to the store. They don't I mean, they literally sit at a desk and build spreadsheets for apparel concepts, gift concepts that they're buying. And you are doing this as a side. So when are you building these spreadsheets?
Speaker2: So I'll build this spreadsheet sometimes before I submit the order. So I kind of put everything together and look and see how it is. So I reconcile it after I've done the order as well, because sometimes many things just don't fit in the budget or it might be nice to have or that price point isn't going to move, right? So I'll take a modify and do tweaks or an item is sold out, right? So sometimes that what happened to and then I'll go back and look at all the different spreadsheets and say, okay, hey, in this workbook, what do I have that I can pick and pull?
Michelle: You just mentioned price point, everyone's store. I mean, for Burt's, I think my magic number is $40. What is your magic number? Price point.
Michelle: What's your highest price point that you will max out at?
Andrea: ummm.. A couple hundred dollars.
Michelle: And that's only fourth quarter, I'm assuming. Or is that year round?
Andrea: Year round
Andrea: Oh, that's good. Yeah.I'm sitting here looking through my questions. So most you're buying your do you do? I know you do a lot of it through at night. Do you how many shows do you attend or do you prefer ordering online or do you prefer going to shows?
Andrea: I wish I could go to shows more. It's just honestly, my schedule doesn't allow for it. If I do get to go to a show, it will be like the one day in Vegas, in and out. Or if I'm going to, let's say Atlanta or something, it's literally out on a redeye, back on a red. I just. Cause I don't have time. Yeah, you know, but I do like to go to the shows to see if there's something new. I really go to the shows, though, to check quality, because those are things that I can't tell from online.
Andrea: We just got back from Vegas. What was your favorite thing that you found in Vegas?
Andrea: I would say one of the items in the cash and carry section that don't have a showroom right or I wouldn't aren't readily available we would know about say that and then I would say the second thing is just finding new lines, ones that I've been looking and sourcing online, but then actually going there and seeing a whole collection or oh my gosh, I could mix this with this and this and this. So functional
Michelle: Shows to me are still like, I feel like I can't buy everything online. It's just too I don't even know how people like with fare, which is great. It's a great portal, but you can't smell the candle, you can't feel what the cream feels like or smells. I mean, for apparel, it's like I've said this a couple of times, the apparel portals, I, I, after COVID, the pandemic, I will never shop online because everything 90%, 80% of the things I bought that weren't for vendors that I deal with were the hand on. It was horrible. Or the sizing was like for five year olds. I mean, it just and some of those you can't return it because I'm not in the store to find it. Like months later it was like, Oh my God, I cannot believe this is what it feels and looks like. I'm like, never again.
Andrea: Yes. And we all have those doozies, you know that like, oh, that. That wasn't good. Oh, God.
Michelle: I shudder at that whole pandemic shopping on fashion. Go. Oh, my God. Tell me about some of your favorite trends.
Andrea: I would say. Lifestyle things I like things that are simple yet serve a purpose.
Michelle: Like what's one of your favorites? Do you have any examples?
Andrea: I'm trying to think. One of them would be like, let's say entertaining table, top and entertaining specifically around charcuterie. Right. It's something that is so functional. Yet you can make it really simple or elaborate and make it super extravagant if you're doing a buffet or something for a large group. I love that.
Michelle: Who are some of your favorite retailers and why?
Michelle: So I would say Anthropologie is one of my favorites. I love how they curate the different collections and it's always interesting. Even some of the architectural pieces that are in there. So that's one of my favorites. Another one is Restoration Hardware, and not so much for the quality of the product, but I love how they completely revamp collections. You can always mix and match the things that you have, but I mean, they bring up entirely new, new new collections, which I think is pretty cool and I would did the last ones Nordstrom's for the customer service. I love that.
Andrea: You said they're opening a new Nordstrom's by you for the customer experience. Do you know anything about that?
Michelle: Yeah. So there's an existing Nordstrom's and they're remodeling it. But I was researching and some of the stores are going to be more for just pickup locations. Some they were actually reducing their footprint. Others are making it more so that you can go and pick up items that you've bought online. But other stores are making more experience, so they're bringing in like a spa type environment. So you could go there and actually get like a manicure, pedicure or facial, right, in addition to having some product. So when you go there, it's more of an experience type place, one stop shop.
Michelle: And that's going to be close to that one's going to be in your area. Gilroy Right.
Andrea: In Santa Clara. Yeah.
Michelle: Tell me, because you you talked about customer service as far as being your favorite thing of Nordstrom. Like what is the epitome of customer service to you?
Andrea: I think. I mean, the first thing is the greeting that you get when you enter a place. I think it starts with being customer service. I actually think it starts way before you even step inside of a place. Right. So it's just is it clean? Right. Can you find the hours of operation? So I always I always think for whatever industry it is, it starts before a person actually may walk in. Right. But then when you go in, are you is there a greeting? Is it so stuffy that you feel like, oh, my gosh, I'm afraid to touch something here? Cluttered, right? And then if you go to buy something, if it doesn't work, can you return it? Do they stand by their product? You know, it's funny, sometimes I'll go in because I just love to do a trial. I'll go in probably looking like I'm a homeless person and I'll go somewhere and it will be, let's say I'm coming in and there's no makeup on, totally ragamuffin style and I'll walk into Chanel. Right. And it's funny to see the experience because it's like I look at, Oh, hi. And they kind of wondering like, why are you in here? And then it's like, Oh, I'm specifically looking for this bag. And they have Great, I'll buy it and leave. Or it's like, but then there's other times when you come in and I actually am totally put together, right? And I'll go in. Just the difference in experience that someone may have, I'm buying the same product or I'm buying nothing. Right? But like, you never know. Yeah.
Michelle: It's funny you said that I look like a homeless person years ago, Fred. Okay, so Fred Segal was my mentor and Fred was in the stores all the time, like, all the time. And Fred had a houseman. Edie, who was this sweet Chinese man that drove Fred everywhere. Fred, I don't I don't remember being in a car with Fred where he was driving. It was always Eddie, and Eddie prepared his meals. Eddie. Eddie was Eddie did everything with Fred, so Eddie would drive. I think Eddie had this, like, beat down little VW bug, and Eddie would pull up in front of Fred Segal in Santa Monica and Fred would get out and he'd always have his Fred Segal canvas bags that had all his herbs and all of his things that he shared with them. And I remember one of my clients going, Dude, did you see that, like, homeless guy out there? He's like, he's carrying Fred Segal bags and everything. I'm like, That is Fred.
Michelle: Fred was not a flashy guy. Fred More like my my old boss, Michael Campbell on the store, Fred Segal axis. And we sold axis menswear. Menswear and axis had a great pair of I think there were silk like like sweatpants, just like baggy pants and a t shirt. And that's literally what Fred lived in was these access pants and like a V-neck or a Fred Segal T-shirt or whatever. And Fred was like the most low key person. So I find that hilarious that, you know, a client who's spending thousands and thousands of.
Michelle: Dollars is almost.
Michelle: Like, I know that's Fred. So I think that as far as customer service, I think that that is a huge Nordstrom's does is such a good job because they don't look down at you when you walk in. It's like, first thing I thought about is like when you went to after we left Vegas, you went shopping at Caesars and the experience of walking in a Chanel store dressed in leggings, t shirt, whatever, and that experience of walking in a Nordstrom's Chanel section in leggings, it's got to be a very different experience because those the shop girls, as I always call them, in the high end stores, have a very bad way of looking down their nose. And like, you get judged about what you're going to spend even before you walk into the store. And it's Nordstrom's does a very good job about, I guess, accepting everyone no matter not not judging a book by its cover.
Andrea: It was really interesting because, you know, I had my really suitcase, right? Yes. So you are rolling with the wheelie and my bag, you know, and I went in there into Chanel. And at first I didn't get any help at all. I had to actually ask someone. And the store was empty, completely empty. There was even more infuriating. It's like, yes.
Michelle: We're in a pandemic. Shopping hasn't come back in certain areas 100%, and yet there's no one in the store. And you have to go find somebody to help you.
Andrea: Yes. And I actually found the security guy was the most helpful. Right. Wow. And so and I made sure, like, you know, it wasn't by appointment only because I don't know, it changes all the time and by. So I just said, listen, I don't have an appointment. May I come in looking for a specific item? And so he said, Sure, no problem. Come on in. Here I am with my wheelie. Right. Which I mean, most of people are coming in with really bags, but whatever. And so there wasn't anyone in there. No one would offer to help. People just kind of look down. So I asked several. I said, Excuse me, can I get some help when you have a minute? And she was like, Oh, sure. Well, what do you need? So I said, I'm looking for this bag. Do you have it? And what colors do you have it in? I was very similar to what I was going in there for, and then she was like, Oh, no, no, we're sold out company wide. There's this one, but we don't even have that anymore. And I'm like, Oh, you mean the one that's in the glass case right there?
Michelle: Shut up. Dismissive. Hello? Chanel. Caesars Palace.
Andrea: Okay. And then I ask, when will you be getting the new bags for the next collection? Because I'm curious. I want the specific bag, but I'm looking in more neutral colors. The bag that they had, it was a shocking pink with, like, Sherpa style. And I'm like, oh, that's so you. Yeah. With the wheelie and the shocking pink sherpa. But anyway, so which is interesting, that's a premium brand in my opinion. Right. And so I just would have thought that it would have been a different experience.
Michelle: Yeah. I think if there's anybody that takes anything away from this interview, it's like, please God. Like, I mean, I've always said the customer service experience is key to both building your loyalty and building your brand. And I often wonder how often those high, high end stores get secret shopped and hear about secret shop, let alone by somebody that looks like an average person just walking in shopping, like how often that actually happens. And they address some of the customer services because it's like I mean, I'll admit when I when we had our stores at Fred Segal, there were times where you're looking down at people like and it's like I literally. There's more. When I got out of it was where you're like, What are you thinking? Like you literally, you're a shopgirl. Meaning me. The people that are walking into your store make ten times more than you make. And you're acting like that. Like it's. And it's a phenomenon. I'm not quite sure where it comes from. If it's if it's age, if it's ego, if it's I think my case it was I thought I was all out in a Big Mac. And it's like, in reality, you're there to serve customers and to give them an amazing customer experience. And it is always shocking, like when I especially like a brand like Chanel, but I don't know.
Andrea: It's just interesting. You know, I think I always look at it like, don't take yourself so seriously, right? Because everybody has a story and you never know. Like, maybe someone's best day could be your worst day, right? Like, you just never know. And so it's always have the compassion and kindness, right? Yeah. We're in a pandemic here. I have a primary job, yet I'm hustling $30 cans of paint. Right, for the customer experience. And that's just what you do, you know? Yeah.
Michelle: It's it's I think more people can certainly learn a thing or two about that. And you sell apparel and gifts, which is your favorite to buy?
Andrea: I would say my favorite probably is gifts for two reasons. One, I think there's such a broad selection in which you can buy. And two, maybe it's more and more comfortable buying that. However, like I have a ton of fun buying apparel too. And, you know, sometimes I'll but I think that for my customer base, it's 25 to, let's say probably 70 in terms of age and evenly dispersed. So that's a broad group that you have to buy for. But, you know, it's challenging. So I do like buying for apparel too. I think it's just more comforting and gifts.
Michelle: I totally just went blank.
Michelle: What which what are some of your favorite gift brands that you have now? And the other question, that's why this thing is like, what is your favorite concept and area that you've been buying for as of recently?
Andrea: Um. Well, definitely. I would say the pantry section. That's my favorite. Yeah, that is. I have to say, like, one of my favorites just because I love what it stands for. Right? It's like the community, the kitchen. If you think of a home, right. Where is one place that if you have people over, everyone congregates around is the kitchen or some of the best experiences or conversations are over. You know, a beverage or sitting at a dinner table. Right. And so I just love what it stands for. And I think that it's so fun because there are so many things you can do from someone who maybe isn't really a cook down to someone who loves to cook. Right. You're covering everything in between. Know it's not hard to put out some crackers and put top of that in a bowl.
Michelle: I mean, your pantry, I think that's my favorite right now as well is just one. It's so great because I think when I first started you, I don't think you had any list last fall. So in the spring you brought in Bella Cucina and Los.
Michelle: And then it's kind of grown. You've got truffle sauce now. You've got. Well, you always said you had sober dough.
Andrea: I've had several for the holiday time. So I would say definitely over the past year, that line coming in that I'm excited about. So I want to find things that you can't normally find anywhere else, things that are much more craft batch that are supporting the.
Michelle: Local so far right now in their pantry section.
Andrea: I really love the pasta sauces. Those are really good. I love some of the Bella Cucina pastas and there as well. And then I love the local honeys.
Michelle: Yeah I, I think was that because I got that lemon artichoke cucina I finally made that warm dip with it.
Andrea: Yeah. Did you like it to.
Michelle: Die. Like it's I, I mean, I sold Bella Cucina when I had my stores at Fred Segal called Fred Segal environment.
Michelle: And then.
Michelle: Bella Cucina back then. And it's always been just this beautiful culinary line. I mean, it's just visually gorgeous, all of it. And it's so much fun to merchandise it and like show it with you. Do all these beautiful faux vegetables and fruits and it's like, it's so much fun to to set displays with it. And serendipity sells it as well. And we do hers with fresh cut herbs. And it just there's something about that line that is just so beautiful. And Chef now is I've become one of my favorites because, I mean, if no one's tried the sauce or the hot sauces, oh, my God, to die like I love I still I'm still afraid to open up my pasta sauce because I.
Andrea: Don't don't want to. Oh, it is so good. It is so good.
Andrea: Where how do you. Because you have a lot of balls in the air. You also have a farm that you're developing that we haven't really talked about. The farm is being developed for. Talk a little bit about what you're doing with the farm.
Andrea: Yes. So. The farm started off as an entirely separate project. It's about 20 acres, as you saw. It's not all flat space. So it was quite an overwhelming project, I would say that when we first took it on. Right. It's very hilly, etc.. And so to kind of break it down into like tangible products or projects of things you could do since it was just this huge, overgrown, it's so beautiful, it's pretty and it's just the natural landscape or whatnot. So we started off with the lavender. And so we've got thousands of plants out in and we're expanding that now as well. And it kind of broke it down for the lavender from the English, Spanish and the French. So there's all different types.
Michelle: Do you have any plans for for developing something with the lavender?
Andrea: Absolutely. Yeah. So we were growing. Now the plants are going on the third year, so they're actually getting quite large in size when we do the pruning. To be honest, I just don't have time really. When we don't know why and everything, I'm like, Oh my God, there's so much I could do with it from doing the lavender oil or all of that, but so definitely have plans for it just in due time. And then so we started with lavender, then we've expanded into grapes. So we have about, say, three and a half acres now where we have the vines. And so that's doing really well. Primarily Reds. So.
Michelle: And other people are tending these plants. Right. Or is this you and Tom are are tending all these plants?
Andrea: No, no, it's it's definitely a group effort. So we do a lot of it. And then we also have help as well.
Michelle: So which now I have to ask, like with all of these balls you have going on, like how how do you find balance? And I know I've asked you this before, but how do you find that calmness and stillness? You may not need it, but how do you find that balance? Because you go at such a rate. It's it's dizzying to see how much you have doing. And it's I always think about how where do you find that calmness? Or maybe you don't need it.
Andrea: Now, I would say, I mean, my I think the pace at which I go and the schedule of which I operate, I'm sure it's probably not healthy. Right. And it's definitely not for. All right. I totally appreciate that. It's just for me. It's who I am. It's in my DNA, right? I say I really enjoy what I do. I like the diversity in what I do. Right, I would say. I identify and I embrace my areas of weakness or where I would need to develop. Right. And I compensate accordingly for those. So I know when I need to get help. And then, honestly, I'm just thankful for life's blessings. I love that.
Michelle: Do you do you ever hit a wall? And when you do, what does it look like?
Andrea: I do. And sometimes it's just sometimes a lot. It can happen all at once. And it's not necessarily all bad, but it's just overwhelming. Or then you do have things where you think, okay, I've got this dialed, and at the drop of a dime, everything falls to pieces, right? And so when in those moments, it's like, okay, I have to take a deep breath. I regroup, I'm human like anyone else. So I think like, Oh my God, what a shit show this is. But then immediately I have to go into action mode, like, okay, how am I going to correct this? How am I going to resolve this? How am I going to pivot and do something different? What does it look like? Do I need to clear the decks to allocate time for this? How much of a priority? What's the burning issue?
Michelle: Do you take vacations.
Andrea: And what I love to take vacation.
Michelle: And what is vacation look like? Are you working on vacations?
Andrea: It depends on what the definition of working is. You know, dropping out of blogs from your side.
Michelle: Shout out chaise.
Andrea: I've got my tote bag & my computer so I'm only click away. It's funny because I always say in order to really feel I getaway in somewhere that I can't drive back to in like a pinch, right? So if I go to Southern California or something, you know, there's enough distance. It's like a six hour corridor, a flight away, a one hour flight, you know. So it's like, Oh, I'm here, I'll go drop in. I love the tropical just relaxing vacations. I think one of the favorite ones we did was the south of France and it was just awesome. It was two weeks and we didn't have everything planned out. We just kind of bumbled along and went exploring other places. It was just so fabulous.
Michelle: The non planning thing must have been freeing and also.
Andrea: Planner. So I was like, Oh my God, yes. You know, Michel So it's so funny. So I'm so detail oriented. I want to know exactly like where we're staying when we're saying Tom is the complete opposite. Oh, we'll just figure it out. We'll drive around and find places. I think that brought on more anxiety than the actual of it. And so it would be funny because, you know, I always want to have everything so detailed in Rain Man. Calm down now. The one 2000, 2000, three. Like It's okay, Rain Man and it just brings humor, right? So you have to laugh. At the end of the day, it's just like, oh, my God, just just go with the flow. So I did it as best I could. Right. But I have to say, there was always this little bit of anxiety inside, like, oh, my God. So I have to tell you, it was hilarious. We rent a car and we're at one of the tolls and we didn't realize that it was only a coin. So we can use the card. I mean, total ignorance. It is on our side, right? And we're there and he's driving and he's like, Oh, do you have any change? Use the card. What are you talking about? The card. The other one. It doesn't take it. Well, now we have a whole line behind us. People are honking, getting out of the car, screaming, yelling, oh, my God, it was so traumatizing. And we're pushing the help button. And so after that point, let me tell you, we had a bag of coins. We would pull up to the thing and we would just start throwing, my God knows how much it actually costs to like go through the toll or how much we were really throwing in there. I never had that whole thing. Yes. We were just literally open the zip lock and start throwing in the money. I.
Speaker1: I think I told you this. Like when Dave and I first started dating, he's like, Mr. Surfer, lackadaisacal, no plan. Just go with the flow. And our first vacation, we're going to Costa Rica, and I'm a planner as well. And I'm like, where are we saying? I don't know, we'll just get there. I'm well, what do you mean we don't know? And it's like we'll just find a place. I'm like, What do you mean? We'll just find a place? Like, what if we're in a place that we don't have where there's not, we'll find a place it's not.
Michelle: And I was like the.
Michelle: Entire trip more consumed with, like, where we're staying or where what we have. But I now we've been together 12 years now when we travel, I kind of trust that just kind of I mean, I'm not going to lie. The last trip to Costa Rica, I planned and it was.
Michelle: We're not staying in little cabins, like little surf shacks. We stayed at this full eco resort. I. I have learned to go with the flow more now and actually kind of enjoy it. There's still a slight bit of anxiety of of.
Michelle: Knowing you're not you're like in a nicer place. You're not like in like a rundown motel six.
Andrea: Like, yes.
Michelle: But there is something about like not having a plan and not having an agenda and just literally going with the flow and and sort of kind of getting lost.
Michelle: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yes, I would say one that I mean, it's a trip that we did like no other in many different aspects, but it was also one of the best trips.
Michelle: I love that I that's what I kind of, like, hope to do when everything's said and done with this fucking COVID pandemic bullshit.
Michelle: Like the COVID.
Michelle: Pandemic that you thought was going to end like in two weeks, a year and a half ago.
Andrea: Yeah. So ongoing, like just going.
Michelle: Oh, my God, yes. Where do you find inspiration?
Andrea: I find it everywhere. Honestly. I mean, even the grocery store.
Michelle: Is one of my favorite places.
Andrea: Yeah. Yeah. I went everywhere.
Michelle: Do you, like, go through magazines? Do you find it? Like, tell me some of, like, some examples of along with the grocery store.
Andrea: Yeah. I mean, I find it if I'm in other boutiques, for example, I'd love to see how they're maybe curate different collections. I'm huge on Pinterest.
Michelle: I can go down that rabbit hole of Pinterest so easy.
Andrea: Oh, yeah, so easily awesome.
Michelle: I'm like, What was I originally looking for?
Andrea: I mean, it's like 2 hours ago. Oh, good.
Michelle: Where do you find where do you see Maison A in ten years?
Andrea: I hope that we just continue to further evolve. You know, having the the lavender field, if I had my wishes, I would say there's a number of different projects that we have going on, and I would just love to marry them all together.
Michelle: I love that. Do you see multiple locations in this future?
Andrea: Yeah, we could. Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle: And then my last question is any advice for someone thinking of starting a retail space as a side hustle?
Andrea: I would say be savvy and don't let your ego get in a way. Right. It's money comes. Money goes. Right. So it's just how it is. And I would say the one thing that you don't get back is time. Right. So enjoy and embrace the time that you have. And if you need to reach out for help, there's many there's experienced retail consultants like M.C. Van Collaboration. Right. Reach out for help. I love that. Yeah.
Andrea: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. I mean, like I said, this is my first client interview and it's like I know so much about you, and but it's I've wanted to tell your story since literally probably the second visit I had with you, because I just I find you incredibly inspirational. And I like I said, like you're you're one of my favorites and your store is certainly one of my favorites, so.
Andrea: Oh, thank you.
Michelle: Thank you so much.
Andrea: Yeah, no, thanks for having me.
Andrea: I love it.
Michelle: And that is a wrap. Thank you all so much for joining me on today's episode. I really appreciate it. And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for more stories and lessons from a life in retail. And don't forget to follow us on Instagram at the retail whore podcast, and you can find us online at the retailwhorepodcast.com