We had the good fortune of connecting with Rena Andrews and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rena, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone. I don’t think there is any way to cultivate change without taking risks – from emotional to financial. My entire life, from the moment I traded medical school for acting school and entered into a world of self-employment and entrepreneurship, has been centered around risk and an unequivocal belief that following my dreams would result in the type of success I wanted. That being said, the path has not been linear and dreams have changed, but I have been able to push forward by staying open, flexible, and connecting to my own desires. . I do not recommend blindly taking risks without a clear objective and action plan. At some point I believe you have to fully commit to what you are doing and take the risk or you will remain in limbo without feeling successful in either way. That is the risk of not taking a risk. Whenever I am nervous about doing something out of my comfort zone, I try to center and ask myself, “Is this fear talking, or is this decision really in my best interest to help me grow and move forward?” With all that has been going on recently in the world, I also have a newfound appreciation for the emotional risks involved in true authenticity. The risk involved in opening your heart and soul to share your story and to connect with others. By doing so, you may lose a few friends along the way, but that is truly how to find your tribe.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Lalita is my clothing and accessories brand and is truly an extension of myself. Lalita puts a seductive twist on classic styles by juxtaposing lusciously soft fabric to nurture your inner Goddess with hardware accents to satisfy your inner badass. The line truly is distinct with its unconventional use of details from garter clip closures to metal rings. Lalita walks the delicate line of seduction where yes, the pieces are sexy, but that has more to do with what they evoke in the imagination than what is revealed. Lalita is after all the Hindu Goddess of Bliss and her name means “she who plays.” Lalita began just after my father passed away; a time when I needed both solace and joy. My customers connect with the authenticity, attention to detail, and craftsmanship. This past year Lalita presented at New York Fashion Week with the Flying Solo show and it was truly incredible to see head-to-toe Lalita looks walking down the runway as a true expression of our growth as a lifestyle brand. This New York Fashion Week milestone came just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit which essentially halted plans to produce ready-to-wear clothing and handbags for our Fall 2020 Collection. Once the shelter-at-home orders were put in place, like many fashion brands, we made a quick pivot to producing fashionable face masks. We just released a tie-dye collection for summer consisting of masks and boy shorts so I’m excited to see where this new direction takes us! There are certain aspects of being an independent designer that have been easier for me, most notably the press, thanks opportunities to work with some major gatekeepers in fashion, PR, and top publications. The challenge for me is breaking my “solopreneur” mentality. But I am working on that! I am currently expanding my team so that I can be more productive and focus on growing my business. The greatest results come from collaboration and it is my intention this year to make that more of a reality. The fashion industry has been upended and it is even more important for us to work together. Another challenge for my brand is to convey the value behind the level of craftsmanship that goes into every piece. Fast fashion has destroyed so many people’s perception of fair pricing. They don’t realize how many people receive less than fair wages just to make $20 jeans. I’m seeing things shift due to COVID-19 and the human rights issues our country and the world are finally waking up to. I see Lalita as a sustainable brand not only because of the bamboo fabric used, but also because of the classic styles and quality of product that are meant to last. I’m a shopper who prefers to shop less and invest in pieces that will last through the years. That philosophy is the foundation behind how I design and set quality control in our LA-based manufacturing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m generally not one for tourist attractions and long lines, however, I have a real desire to visit Hogwarts Castle at Universal – I do love Harry Potter! LACMA would definitely be on the itinerary. I love the lights at night. Maybe a concert in the back of the Tar Pits, a hike up Bronson Canyon (although Runyan is an option since it is such an LA thing to do). Perhaps a day trip to Santa Barbara or Laguna Beach. A trip out to Pasadena to see Huntington Gardens followed by a cocktail at Yamashiro for the view. Dinner at Crossroads for some amazing vegan food or perhaps Gracias Madre for that patio and deliciousness. One of my favorite spots to go out to is the West Hollywood Edition, mostly because it also has a New York vibe to it. Breakfast at The Griddle for Mom’s French toast or CJ’s for some eggs and grits – the perfect comfort food after a night out. An afternoon in Topanga Canyon, a trip to the Getty Museum (again for the views) and a stroll down one of the Malibu beaches. Perhaps we can even catch some of the Kobe murals or angel wings along the way for a photo opp. And of course, a walk or bike ride from Santa Monica to Venice followed by a meal on Abbot Kinney for a taste of the westside.
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 a person, group, organization, book, etc that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
After all this time I have a very long list and there is no way I could honor everyone here. This is dedicated to everyone who has offered advice, feedback, a listening ear, love, laughs, hugs, capital, creativity, and collaboration. I would like to give a special dedication to Lisa Dern and Gary Harris who both passed away a few years ago but who were some of first to always stand behind me and Lalita.
MJ Glover, Jen Strand, Mariya Nicole