Money move: Rice grad gives up finance for fashion and becomes an almost instant success with distinct dresses
Andrea Phillips had always dabbled in art, taking a few classes here and there, but her future held a finance career, not a fashion line. But here she is, working on her spring collection, while her AG Phillips fall pieces fly out of Tootsies.
"It’s a lot of work and sweat equity. We are doing it all ourselves, but it has been a lot of fun."
Sometimes, it’s a good thing to follow your heart instead of your head.
It’s not that the Rice MBA grad isn’t using plenty of brain power to create her collection of sophisticated and ultra feminine dresses, of course. Phillips and her husband, Oliver, are running every facet of the company from finance to manufacturing, which means the ultimate in teamwork.
"It’s a lot of work and sweat equity. We are doing it all ourselves, but it has been a lot of fun," Phillips says. "Oliver is encouraging, but he plays the devil’s advocate, which is a good balance."
The Houston native recently unveiled her collection at Tootsies, connecting with store owner Mickey Rosmarin, who said yes to her dresses. No stranger to young designers, he was taken with Phillips’ vision.
"It was a very focused collection,” Rosmarin says. "She is right on target with what she is doing."
Phillips feels there’s a gap in the market for women looking for ladylike dresses made from luxe materials at an affordable price point. Whether an A-line or straight skirt, the waist is always a focal point and the materials are rich and full of textures, so the prints make a statement in a sophisticated way. The collection ranges from $395 to $695, and the dress selection ranges from luncheon to cocktail.
Phillips and her husband are based in London, so she sources her materials and manufacturing throughout Europe. Her silks come from a mill near Como, Italy, and the collection is made in Romania, which she visits six times a year. She’s been invited to Coterie Paris and is adding final touches to her spring 2015 line.
“Mickey is so creative. He let me see his private collection of vintage dresses as a way of teaching me."
Growing up in Houston, Phillips was focused on getting the collection in Tootsies, but she is equally thrilled with the expertise Rosmarin shared with her during meetings.
"Mickey is so creative. He let me see his private collection of vintage dresses as a way of teaching me,” Phillips says. "We talked about different sleeve length and fabric selection for spring. It was wonderful."
"We met, we shared experiences. I gave her a few tips and she gave me some too," Rosmarin says of their meeting.
Phillips came across a few other new experiences in Houston including Torchy’s Tacos, where she ate multiple times, because she “can’t stop going there.”
And, as every homesick Texan knows, nothing tastes like home more than Tex-Mex, a staple not-so-available in London.
"Who knows? Maybe I will go back to London and open a Mexican food restaurant. They need queso in London too," Phillips says.
If a finance whiz can become a fashion designer, why not add Tex-Mex restaurateur to your resume?