Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 10.27.31 AMWe had the opportunity to interview a cool and talented #GIRLBOSS and Michigan Native, Designer of Helena Quinn, Andrea Racey.  Read the spotlight below, she has worked hard to make a name in the Fashion Industry and looks like, things are working out!  You know you've made it when people are wearing your clothes on the street, especially, celebrities and note-able fashion bloggers!

{SS}: Can you tell us a bit about your background, how long have you been designing? What inspires your collections, specifically Fall 2014?  

{Andrea}: Yes! I went to design school at Columbia in Chicago. It was a Fine Arts program with a concentration in Fashion Design. From there I moved to LA, and worked as a Costume Design Assistant on the television shows Beverly Hills 90210 and Hero's. That was a very lucky break, and allowed me to work side by side with some amazing designers and mentors.Helena_Quinn_logo_2

From there I worked for a start up clothing manufacturer for about 2 years, which was a great foray into the business side of the industry, and got me thinking about how my own collection might look. After a while, I couldn't stop thinking about starting Helena Quinn. It was actually my senior thesis collection in college, and I thought to myself "I think I can make this work in real life". I was pretty scared of failing, but I thought, "I would rather risk the possibility of failing at this, than with the thought of not doing something based off of fear"

The line is inspired mainly by the women whom I respect and admire. My Grandmothers were the main source of that initially. They were both incredibly strong women who each had 8 kids and worked outside the home, but were also very in touch with their femininity and how they put themselves together. That balance they possessed was/is inspiring to me. I think that balance is a quality that women today are still striving for, and its a concept that I try and articulate through the collection as well.

ny_sign{SS}: Best part about your job? Challenges you face?

{Andrea}: The best part of my job, by far, is being able to see visions in my head come to life. Every time I see a first sample based off a sketch I've done, I'm still in awe that I have the privilege to be a part of that process. The biggest challenge is having to change mindsets on a continual basis. From the creative side to business strategy to marketing to accounting, its a constant shifting of thoughts. So being able to transition mentally from each category on a daily basis is by far the hardest part for me. 

{SS}: Any advice for someone trying to start as a Fashion Designer?

{Andrea}: Get a foundation, study the business side, and surround yourself with encouraging and wise counsel.

  • In terms of a foundation, the best way to create your own design perspective, is if you have a solid understanding of how clothing and your body function in conjunction. I didn't even mean to rhyme there;). But if you understand how the body moves, and how a 2-Dimensional vision will work for a 3-Dimensional garment, you can then properly create your own twist on that.
  • In terms of the business side, you can have the most beautiful garments in the world, but if you don't understand the industry and the timeline of how things work throughout the calendar year, you're going to get stuck. So I would be as well informed about your business strategy as you are about your designs.
  • In terms of counsel, you're never going to know everything. So when something comes up that is beyond your skill set or knowledge base, you better have strong and wise people to consult with. You will want to quit so many times along the way, you have to surround yourself with people that don't give you that option.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 1.57.47 AM{SS}: YOUR secret to work / life balance? 

{Andrea}: It has taken me A LONG time to find a work /life balance, I would say this was a huge struggle for me in the beginning. I used to find stress to be a motivator, and would equate the number of hours I worked in a day with success. I now realize that I'm a better designer and artist when I eliminate stress, and can create from a calm place. I also realize that the number of hours I put in, does not necessarily have a direct correlation with efficiency and/or success.

If I can get the same amount of work done in 8 hours as opposed to 10 because I'm focused and not anxious, its so much better for the balance of my life, and I don't feel bad about that anymore.I also try to do something physical, like yoga, spin, or hike as much as I can. And… my doctor told me wine with girlfriends is super there's that ;).Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 10.44.32 AM

{SS}: Do you have a go-to Mobile App? 

{Andrea}: I found an iPhone app called CALM, which gives you hundreds of 2-20 minute guided meditations. I try to do this in the morning and at night, and if I feel like a neurotic basket case, I might throw one on in the middle of the day.


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In terms of fashion, I still think Instagram is the best for style stalking! I love style stalking. I truly find so much inspiration in seeing how other people put themselves together, and I really appreciate the individuality of that.      

Petite-Band-Set-Luv-Aj-Petite-Punk-Gold-1_1024x1024{SS}: In regards to your personal style, do you have a signature accessory? 

{Andrea}: I honestly don't! Contrary to what some people might think the actual day to day of fashion is pretty grungy. I'm loading and unloading fabrics, running through factories, and sweating a significant amount of the day, so my go to outfit is usually a Cotton Citizen T-shirt and some Rag and Bone jean shorts that I've worn into the ground. If i'm meeting someone, I might switch the shorts to dark jeans and throw on a leather jacket with a gauzy scarf.  In terms of jewelry I almost always prefer sentimental things to trendy. I have these 3 Luv AJ gold rings that I basically sleep in, and a gold lotus necklace that my sister gave me. I never take that off, I feel nervous without it.

{SS}: Who inspires your style?  Favorite Style Icon?

{Andrea}: I'm inspired by ballsy girls. I like people that take risks and know their own individual style, and are NOT afraid to express it. Even if I wouldn't wear it, I still appreciate the creativity that went into it. I try to make it a practice to never think, or speak negatively about style. If I have to narrow down to a few ladies, they are ~ Kate Hudson, Amal Alamuddin, Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth Banks, Cara Delevingne, Rhianna, Kate Moss, Giovanna Battaglia, Kerry Washington, Miranda Kerr, Olivia Palermo, and Diane Kruger…. to name a few ;).

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{SS}: Style Archetype?

{Andrea}: Edgy. I was surprised by that result!

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wwd{SS}: Favorite Blog you love to read? (lifestyle, business or fashion)

{Andrea}: Damsel In Dior, Into The Gloss, The Cut, Song of Style, The Business of Fashion,,,  

{SS}: Favorite local restaurants? 14911689483_3bc1231a89

{Andrea}: Whenever I fly into Detroit from LA, I make sure my family has an order in to Pita Cafe. I also love Eddie's Gourmet in Oak Park (I waitressed there in high school when it was called Georgio's, and gained about 10 lbs due to lack of portion control), Om Cafe in Ferndale, Inn Season in Royal Oak, and Russel Street Deli at Eastern Market. And if there's a stop at Avalon Bakery, I'm never mad.In LA I'm pretty obsessed with Sugarfish, I actually have dreams about it. I'm also into GraciasMadres, Blue Plate Oysteria, Joans on Third, Nobu Malibu, Cafe Gratitude, Pace, El Carmen, andCuvee is the cutest little place around the corner from my apartment. And all of a sudden I'm starving.

{SS}: Currently listening to…

{Andrea}: Sam Smith almost all day, everyday. With a 1/4 Beyonce and 1/8 Wiz Khalifa thrown in there. I'm not sure how that math actually works..

{SS}: Must have item for Fall?   What are your favorite pieces from your fall collection? unnamed-1

{Andrea}: I'm really excited about our "Evelyn" Jacket. Its a quilted leather jacket, and one of most complicated style I've done production wise, but I think it will be very worth it! (Jacket & Vest are in store at Two Skirts in Telluride & San Fran, also available at Madison in Los Angeles)              unnamed-3

I'm also excited for our "Isla" dress, I think its a nice transition piece from Summer to Fall, and fits a lot of different body types. I think its a piece you can throw on with heels and wear to a wedding, or flats and a jean jacket while you're eating donuts at the cider mill.


  {SS}: Words to Live by? 

{Andrea}: This is a tough one for me because I LOVE quotes. I'm not embarrassed to say that when I can't sleep at night I scroll Pinterest for inspirational quotes. Here are a few of my number ones: Remember