We had the good fortune of connecting with Andie Gechtman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have been a creative my entire life, ever since I could hold a crayon. Growing up it was never a mystery as to what I would end up doing in my career, as I always knew it would have something to do with art and creativity. After studying fashion design in college, I worked as a women’s contemporary designer for several years. While I loved designing clothes and it let me be creative, I always felt myself longing to be more original and more artistic in my work. My favorite part about designing clothing was the fabric and prints that I got to use. I studied surface and textile design as part of my fashion degree, so I always felt myself thinking “I would love to be the one who gets to design these prints, and turn my artwork into something wearable”! That thought is what sparked the idea behind Andie Gechtman Studio. When Covid hit and I was furloughed, I was listening to tons of podcasts and doing research about pursuing surface design and art licensing professionally. I can’t quite pinpoint what it was that led me to take the leap and quit my job to pursue my business, but there was a fire inside of me that was burning to try this out on my own. When I started Andie Gechtman Studio, I had intended for it to mostly be a design studio under which I would create prints and designs to be licensed and purchased by companies for their products. My thought process started to evolve and change as I began creating my own line of product with my designs, such as greeting cards, art prints, phone cases, mugs, custom artwork, and even a jewelry line that I brought under the umbrella of Andie Gechtman Studio. Making so much product led me to try selling at flea markets, with the intention not only of selling my work, but also growing and exposing my brand. Andie Gechtman Studio quickly evolved to being a product-based design brand focused around my artwork and surface design, and I now pop up at flea markets almost every weekend as well as selling on my own website and running a wholesale business! It has been so exciting to see what started as a desire to become a print designer turn into producing and selling my own product line from my designs. My thought process is still aimed at being able to license my designs to larger companies and be able to participate in artist collaborations, but the shift to developing a brand around my art has been the best thing in exposing and growing my business in order to achieve those big goals.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve never taken my art too seriously. Art to me has never been a means of provoking deep thought or analysis; it has always been a way to creatively express myself and just bring joy to whomever experiences it. I love working with color, texture, and pattern. When I create art, I want it to bring feelings of joy and fun… that’s what creating art does for me, after all! When I decided to start my brand, I wanted to bring that bright and fun artwork to people’s lives by designing products that we use every day. Wether it’s a bright patterned plant pot in a living room, a quirky birthday card sent to a friend, a colorful phone charm in a mirror selfie, or a hand-painted hat that brightens an outfit…. my products make everyday life more fun and happy. What excites me the most about my business is when I am at my popups and I hear people gushing over how “cute and fun” my work is, and saying that they were drawn to the happy vibes my store gives off. Creating playful designs and putting them into the world combats the large amount of negativity that we’ve had to deal with in today’s climate. When I think about growing my brand, I think about being able to bring more happiness and brightness into the world through my artwork.
While I love what I do, I definitely wouldn’t say it has been an easy road… especially when my business is still so new! I only launched Andie Gechtman Studio in September 2020, not even a full year ago. It is growing and changing every day, and at at a rate that is hard to keep up with on my own. Although on the outside it looks like I am having the best time painting and designing all day, what I don’t show is all the difficult parts. As a small business owner, I wear so many hats and have so many day-to-day tasks that are not creative at all: managing my funds, keeping track of inventory, doing customer service, doing outreach to retailers, up-keeping my social media presence, building and updating a website, hand-packaging every order…. the list goes on and on. It has been incredibly difficult to balance all that on my own while also producing a new batch of handmade products to sell every weekend at popups. It is exhausting, I sleep way less than I should, and as a perfectionist I put so much pressure on myself. Every day I get better at learning how to balance, learning how to ask for help, and learning to forgive myself. I am also learning how to take breaks and refresh myself, and how to do so without an anxiety attack about everything I “should be doing”! However, I am always grateful that I am so overwhelmed because it means that Andie Gechtman Studio is really going somewhere and can only keep growing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As someone who LOVES to travel and explore, I love this question! Showing out-of-town friends around Los Angeles is one of my favorite things. In fact, I feel like I show myself around all the time because I am always searching for new areas to explore, new restaurants to try, new stores to check out. I would hit up my favorite neighborhoods to give a diverse and complete sense of LA: Venice/Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Silverlake, Downtown, and Malibu. In Venice we’d walk through Abbott Kinney, either starting our day at Gjusta or ending it at Felix. Maybe even bring bikes and bike along the beach from Venice down to Hermosa Beach, which is one of my favorite day activities before the summer gets too hot! Rooftop drinks at Hotel Erwin to end the day. I’d make sure to go to West Hollywood on a Sunday to check out Melrose Trading Post (a nice change from working it every weekend)! A stroll down Melrose Place is necessary for a matcha at Alfred Tea and a stop in my favorite store of all time, LoveShackFancy. While on Fairfax, a meal at Jon & Vinny’s is obligatory! If my friend isn’t like me and can’t eat pasta every night of the week, then I would venture to my favorite hole in the wall Thai restaurant in the area- Spicy Thai BBQ for a comforting bowl of Khao Soi! A day in Silverlake would start at Dinosaur Coffee or with a sorrel pesto bowl at Sqirl, before heading to check out vintage and thrift stores in the area. Ending that day with a smash burger from Burgers Never Say Die, my favorite in the city. While Downtown we would need to visit the Los Angeles Flower Market, where I source all my plants, before lunch in Little Tokyo’s Sushi Gen. Rooftop drinks once again, this time with a view of the Downtown skyline- Pilot is a favorite! Visiting Malibu would start with an ocean-view hike followed by a fresh-caught lunch at Malibu Seafood, or lobster rolls at Broad Street Oyster Co. Relaxing on the beach is an obvious must while visiting LA, so I’d make sure to leave time for that and a beautiful sunset.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to dedicate this shoutout to the the Textiles & Fashion Design program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison! Through that program, I was exposed to surface pattern and textile design, which I ended up falling in love with. Learning surface design and how to turn my artwork into prints & patterns enabled me to think about my artwork in a different way, a way that is more commercial and business-oriented than just creating artwork on canvas (for example). That program is what ultimately gave me the confidence to pursue a career as an artist and start my own business!
Linkedin: Andie Gechtman