Childhood has a way of shaping things.
Nic D’Andrea tapped into her Italian roots in shoe cobbling to launch her eponymous bracelet and handbag brand. Unfulfilled, she started donating a share of revenues to support women who are victims of abuse. Naturally, Grit Daily caught up with D’Andrea to find out how its audience can help.
- You have your own interesting entrepreneurial backgrounds from before Nic D’Andrea. Share those.
I was raised with the strengths and values of an entrepreneurial family but learned the
most from and watching my great-grandfather bring shoes back to life. My great-grandfather was born and raised in Italy, eventually moving to America at a very early age bringing with him his trade of shoe making and repairing.
I remember times as a small child running around his shop as he sat and worked his craft while I played on his machines and used his tools as toys, not realizing that the more time I spent with him the more fascinated I was becoming with the idea of becoming a designer myself. – Nic D’Andrea
This is what first influenced my love for shoes and eventually inspired me to study fashion design at the Academy of Design in Chicago. From there, I realized how my passion also extended to fashion accessories because I seriously believe that a great accessory can make or break an outfit!
After being the first girl in my family to graduate college, receiving a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts, I went on to study further at Ars Sutoria in Milano, Italy, specializing in shoes and handbags. Studying in Italy gave me the technical knowledge I needed along with a more hands-on approach to fashion. I also gained hands-on experience working underneath BCBG Max Azaria and worked with my future mentor Tiffany Tuttle of LD Tuttle. She took me under her wing, and I learned first-hand how to work with factories, work trade shows, and major events such as Paris Fashion Week.
As much as I loved working under my mentor I always felt I had to share my own vision & design of my own style, which led to developing the Nic D’Andrea brand. I began with handbags and work with an incredible factory in Los Angeles, CA. As time went on, I was receiving emails, letters, and communication saying how inspiring it was to see a female start her own company. I realized that I wanted to create a product for women to be inspired by and that helps them believe in themselves. This what ultimately influenced me to create my own design label for both my bracelets and handbags, both of which are made right here in America by local artisans.
- A large share of your product SKUs are bracelets. What do bracelets represent?
Nic D’Andrea bracelets represent giving back and a simple reminder of the strength each woman has inside herself. I realized I wanted to create a product for women to inspire & believe in themselves. That is why every bracelet has a motivational saying on it, as a simple reminder of the strength we as women have within ourselves.
My passion for giving back made the charity aspect of the brand a no brainer. For every
bracelet sold, we donate an allotment of money to a charity that helps women who are struggling to get back on their feet and/or have been in abused relationships. Our bracelets are part of me and my mission to inspire and help women feel they can accomplish anything.
- You also sell handbags. Why are handbags always so expensive? In simple economics, are they truly a Giffen good?
A good quality handbag can be a bit expensive but also worth the price tag it can last for years. That was my goal with my handbags to create a stylish yet timeless handbag that will last for years to come.
- How does your team pick materials for your products?
I personally design all of our products and then select materials from my vision. When shopping
for materials I keep quality first while selecting mediums to go with my design/vision. Our bracelets are high quality for the price point and include a steel base, are 24kt gold plated / sterling silver plated and hand-weaved with genuine Italian leather.
- Gender-based violence is an issue for which you’re looking for solutions. How are you impacted? How are you involved?
I come from a divorced household which in itself creates for issues but ultimately influenced my desire for independence. I come from a very old-fashioned Italian family, where women don’t go to college. I was the first female in my family to graduate college. Each goal I reached along my journey has inspired me to create more goals and fueled the aspiration to chase additional dreams. I think it is important for other women to know they can create and achieve opportunities for themselves.
It is important to guide and support other women especially when a woman has been abused or knocked down so badly, that is when she needs support the most and it is my hope that my bracelets provide this inspiration and my donations afford this opportunity to women.
I want to help support all women of all ages and hope my designs serve as a reminder that with hard work, goal setting and dedication, there is a solution for any situation they might be in.