Andrea Romero on Entrepreneurship + Making it Happen
Andrea is a public relations/marketing rep by day and a fashion ecommerce entrepreneur by night. She is the founder of Spring and Fifth, a go-to online shopping destination for free-living, free-thinking, badass girls with a passion for fashion, styling, and living it up. Andrea personally curates the collection, tailoring it specifically to make women of all shapes, sizes, and cultural backgrounds feel vibrant, beautiful, and on-trend.
After contributing a piece on how to tap into your inner girlboss on the Spring and Fifth blog, I reached out to Andrea to interview her on her experience with entrepreneurship. These days it is increasingly easy for anyone to start an online business, but very few realize how much energy and effort goes into creating and maintaining a successful brand and business. Andrea not only rocks her day job, but she has found a way to fill in the gaps in her career that left her unfulfilled and begin building the business of her dreams. True entrepreneurs don't just have businesses, they have passion projects. And Andrea has some great advice for young people on how to gather the courage to jump right in to whatever lights you up.
Got more questions about how she did it? Follow her on Instagram (@andrearomero and @springandfifth) or hit her up at email@example.com.
Making the Entrepreneur Life Happen
What was the inspiration behind creating the brand Spring and Fifth?
Creating something that was good and true in the fashion industry was my motive; I was really dedicated to creating something special, something different from the companies in the fashion world that I had tried to be a part of that made me feel unfit. It is kind of hard to be a curvy Latina sometimes. I was very disappointed with being made to feel that I had to be a certain way to pursue fashion or the entertainment industry, so I dedicated myself to creating something that would change the game, to finding the right opportunity to start my own company right away, and that’s exactly what I did.
Who did you create Spring and Fifth for?
Spring and Fifth is for the ultimate sassy, classy, girlbossy, and super badass girls. I guess my own feelings of being unfit, whether they were right or wrong, are the reasons that I needed to create a brand that was open and accepting of different backgrounds, and that at least strives to be fair in a fashion world that loves free or underpaid work. That’s obviously a big challenge for me as a small business owner, but it’s a reality and that’s why you hope that consumers educate themselves.
I know that you launched the company while you were working BOTH a full-time and a part-time job. What was that schedule like?
It was all work, work, work but I had fun. I was able to officially start Spring and Fifth while working full-time doing PR/marketing work and also working part-time at a super fun gym about a year ago to pay for all the startup costs, but really the idea of having a fashion brand had been in my mind and served as motivation for about 4 years. Realistically, even though Spring and Fifth launched about a year ago, it took months and months of planning. I curated the collection, created the website, worked with graphic designers, etc., all while working full-time, and that has continued. For anyone that needs numbers, I worked more than 70 hours a week last year (40 at my full time job + 20 at the gym part time + the late-night hours creating Spring and Fifth). I had lots of coffee and fun music going every night.
How did you find the time to dedicate to this project? Did you ever have days where you asked yourself, “What the hell am I doing?”
I didn’t really question myself too much during the process to be honest. If anything, that has happened more this year after the launch as I learn to deal with having Spring and Fifth in my life. I found the time to dedicate to this project because it meant something to me and I think I’ve learned that my focus should be on goals, so I have no problem in taking a pass on things if I’m not able to make it. I had deadlines as well that I created. It felt natural, I had fun with it and I loved all of my jobs at the time so it was no really no big deal. I was working out pretty consistently and eating very well, I was taking care of myself and Spring and Fifth just fed into my creativity so that was fun. I have always been able to carry heavy work loads and I think that my work ethic helped me to achieve this project. I’ve always been busy so when I graduated college and just did 40 hours at a job, I was like WOW! THIS IS BORING! What can I do to spice up my life?
What was the biggest challenge that you faced in becoming an entrepreneur?
My biggest challenge while becoming an entrepreneur was being able to love what I do while I created my own fashion brand. That was hard. I don’t come from a family history of money to fall back on, so I had to rely on my own hard work to do something with. Although I do not like to play into race and ethnicity, I am Latina and at times this did present social challenges, mental challenges, and socioeconomic challenges… but that’s for another story! I wanted to love what I was doing because I couldn’t fake the funk while I started my own business. I wasn’t settling—which at times was painful—but so was hating my everyday life! So I made strategic decisions. I love that I am able to be inspired by the brands I work with as my entrepreneurial endeavor comes to flourish. It makes for a fun, eclectic life. Spring and Fifth is pretty amazing and I love having it in my life. I am very proud of starting it, as it was in my five-year plan after college. I can’t wait to see to see it take off because it’s still only the first year.
Many people become entrepreneurs because they had poor experiences in the workforce and they want to create a company that will do better business. Others just want to have more creative control and something that is their own. It sounds like starting Spring and Fifth was a mix of those things for you, is that right?
Yes, you are correct. For me it was a mix of things. It was a feeling of wanting to create something that included girls like me, while not excluding anyone. I was disappointed with stories of unfairness in the industry, and I just felt like I could create something beautiful. I was able to start everything exactly as I wanted, with an amazing collection that was fully under my creative direction and built off my own capital, stamina, and dedication. I didn’t take the easy way because when I was trying to find my way into my career, I experienced so much of that non-paid opportunity and attitude. I developed some kind of hatred for it. Mostly because I wasn’t one of those people that could afford to take a non-paid gig after graduation, but I did it anyway. I’m not one of those people who still hit up their parents for help after college either; I figured it out on my own. It was painful at times but I’m better for it. I’ve done the gigs, served tables, done the free internships to get the recommendation. I did it and hustled but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Actually paying everyone for their involvement, even if it was $20 an hour, meant something to me after seeing how much unjust behavior there can be in this world. Presenting an awesome brand through my actual hard work was a reward for me.
Entrepreneurship requires passion because it is such an all-consuming endeavor, and some days we wake up and it just isn’t there. When life gets crazy or things get difficult in your business, how do you ensure you are sustaining your passion or tap back into it?
This first year I took as a learning year and it was a soft launch, and I noticed that I absolutely loved it but it did make me feel uncomfortable at times and I was overwhelmed with the amount of work that it required to be successful. The amount of dedication required can be daunting. More and more recently, I have grown into that discomfort through being transparent about it and finding my reasons to want Spring and Fifth to grow. I actually had a pretty hard summer in my personal life and I noticed that some of my dedication had taken a hit so I started looking for team members to join that would help to keep me inspired and on track. I focused on my “why.” As I have grown, I’ve realized that things change, people change, things take a different direction, so why not create something that I love and grow with it? Why be someone that just goes with the flow with no mission? I started reaching out for mentorship and found you, started listening to Tai Lopez (he’s a riot, but inspiring) audios, or learning about the journeys of other women in my field such as Sophia Amoruso or Dulce Candy. I’ve been dedicating myself to working towards the challenge and taking full ownership of being an entrepreneur. I talk about it more freely and I feel more confident. I am ready to not play it cool anymore and really be about it. I think we all have different approaches and I tend to want to grow into my roles and dreams, I feel ready for the growth now. Sometimes we hinder ourselves and I’m glad to have grown out of the fear. I’m excited to take it to the next level.
What are the qualities that you possess that you think have contributed to the successful launch of Spring and Fifth?
That’s hard to answer, I have a hard time talking about myself! I would say that I definitely have tenacity and dedication. I am an unwavering optimist with thick skin. I have times that I am disappointed and things don’t go my way, but I train my mind to see the positives and find solutions. I don’t care if people tell me no, I keep it moving and keep building. The world is so big, you can’t let everything get to you. I definitely also have stamina that was built because at one point I was very overweight, but because of that fight I know things always change with hard work.
What is your vision for the future of Spring and Fifth?
Right now I am happy and focused on my goals! I am seeing the right opportunities taking off for Spring and Fifth, seeing things flourish in every aspect of my career and having more time to dedicate to it. I have started adding team members and setting up specific plans to follow, and am opening up to collaborations with brands and influencers. With time, I hope to start to involve some investors!
What advice would you give young people who want to create something, but who are afraid of failing?
I would definitely say that you can’t be afraid, you just have to start. Start something, start somewhere and then start perfecting. Even when you do fail like I have at times, you wake up the next day. The sun still rises and the sun still sets, keep building. Time and effort is never lost, the pieces come together at some point. Don’t be impatient, that kills dreams too. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are being courageous. Support other people as well when they start building their dreams. It’s daunting and every step of doing what you want deserves a reward. Reward yourself and have fun! Sometimes it’s simply about the fact that you’re doing it!