Meet ANDA’s Co-Founder/My BFF Annie Tao – Ep. 42

Jul 5, 2021 | Entrepreneurship, Podcast, Travel

ANDA is LIVE today! Want to know what it’s like starting a business with your best friend? Annie and I met almost 20 years ago decided to start a jewelry line together with little to no knowledge of the jewelry design and commerce space - tune in to hear how ANDA encapsulates so many of our passions and values, as well as some big, exciting dreams we have for the brand in the near future!

In this episode, we talk about the early stages of starting our business (07:52), the importance of a support system (12:00), and incorporating personal values into the business (16:00).

Audio Transcript

Hello, my loves. Welcome back to The Wanderlover Podcase. I am so, so excited for this episode today. ANDA has officially launched and we have my best friend and business partner, Annie Tao on the show today.

(50s):
Welcome to the show, Annie. Hi, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited. So Annie is currently based in Miami and not only is she an incredible friend, but she’s also a kite surfer and business owner. Thank you for the intro. So yeah, I do live in Miami. I grew up in New York with Danielle and you know, like Danielle, I do have my, my other business, which is called, Always Keep Progressing. And it’s a healthcare company for pediatric therapy for kids with disabilities and kids who are on the spectrum that made these therapy services. So that’s the clinic that I run.

(1m 30s):
And that’s why I’m based here in Miami. I know recently you and I had talked about potentially starting something together and here we are. Yeah. So Annie approached me. She was like, I’ve always wanted to start a business with a friend. And honestly, before that, I’ve never even really thought about it. It was just something that just never crossed my mind. And the more I thought about it, I was like, that would be fucking awesome. I know. And I, honestly, I came up, this is a crazy idea to me too, and I wasn’t sure what you would think about it, but like, it’s funny how from one day to the next, like we just kind of decided it. And if we went with it and it kind of, you know, it started mapping out our goals and everything, and it’s taken us to where we are now and I’m super excited.

(2m 18s):
So ANDA you guys, it’s actually a combination of me and Annie’s names, so Annie and Danielle. The background behind that: we, it just like stuck instantly because in Portuguese, ANDA means wave. And of course our line is ocean inspired and ANDA in Spanish means go and Annie and I are both learning Spanish. So Latin languages have such a special place in our heart. And I feel like so many aspects of what we’re passionate about, what we stand for. It’s just integrated into this jewelry line. Definitely when Danielle and I, when we started talking about doing this together, I think we did brush on the topic of potentially doing swimwear.

(3m 1s):
And then we decided to go with something similar and, you know, to still create products, but to, to keep it also ocean inspired. So I know I’ve always had a love for jewelry, so, and to be able to do this and make it come to life with one of my best friends is honestly one of the best feelings. And I’m happy, really, really happy with the name that we chose, that it was honestly our first choice, like the first idea that came into our minds and then it just stuck. So very improvised. Yeah. And I love how on top of the whole ocean theme, I feel like our love for the water. It really started with like surfing and kite surfing.

(3m 41s):
And I know we’ve talked about it before, how at one point in our lives, we thought that these were extreme sports that we probably wouldn’t ever be able to do in our lives. And now it’s such a core part of what we do. And we like base our lives around the ocean. At least for me, like I remember growing up, I think about surfing as like something only professionals in Hawaii did. And it was just so outside of my reach. And so with our brand too, it’s really breaking down those mental limits that we sometimes construct ourselves. Right. Exactly. And I know that I, you know, growing up too, for me, it was, it was the same, like I never was athletic.

(4m 23s):
I, you know, with just my culture and me being just a quiet person, I just never really put myself out there. And I, I viewed these extreme sports as something that I just couldn’t do. So I had these kind of limitations in my mind. And, you know, I think starting the first company and now launching this company with you, it’s just something that kind of reflects like how some of the goals that I have achieved, even through kite surfing to be able to do things I didn’t think I would ever be willing to do and to jump outside of my comfort zone. So I just love that we both have that special bond with the ocean and we were able to kind of draw on that inspiration and bring that into our jewelry line.

(5m 3s):
Yeah. And it’s so funny how you said that you were quiet. So Annie and I actually met in like fourth grade at math Olympiads, you approached me saying we had the same piano teacher. Yes. So a funny story, Danielle and I, Danielle came into the school a little bit later. I think you had transferred from another school, correct? and so Danielle and I met at, you know, doing our nerd things and we, we, we just automatically clicked and related because we were both growing up with Asian parents with immigrant parents, first generation.

(5m 43s):
And we really related on that and that we’re both, you know, have the same background from our, both of our parents are from China and just coming from sort of that timid background and just like growing up that way in that culture, you know, not that I don’t love the culture, it’s such a big part of me, but some of the, you know, the goals that I’ve always wanted to achieve did not always align with that. And so it’s just been a huge step, China, you know, proud of those limits and cross those boundaries. Exactly. Yeah. And we were both so quiet and so nerdy, just looking back on photos from like fourth or fifth grade and yeah, it’s like nine, 10 years old with our huge glasses and, oh, look where we are Now.

(6m 33s):
I know, I know it’s crazy how far we’ve come and everything we’ve achieved and just like the journey it’s been from, you know, those days back in those days. And I want to give a bit of a background on how we built this brand. Like we do have weekly meetings, but also how it’s fun, right? Like never through this process, have I felt like designing and collaborating was a chore. And I do feel like this outlet of being able to create something physical and have designs manifest. It’s just a beautiful process and it gets to be easy and fun. Yeah. I completely agree. That’s I think our weekly now, but now, like we have two, two meetings per week, but I really look forward to those hours in the week because, you know, it’s, it’s something I get to do with you, who I had such a long friendship with before.

(7m 27s):
So it’s like, not only are we just kind of catching up because we don’t get to see each other all the time now, but you know, we’re having fun while we’re doing it. We’re building something and, you know, making our dreams come to life. And it’s such a creative outlet for me to be able to create, create these pieces with you and to be able to build the brand and kind of see it, come to life, design it, how we want it to be. And it’s just like our own thing, you know? Yeah. And I think in the beginning it was a little confusing. So obviously Annie and I do not have a jewelry background. Like I’ve worked with e-commerce in the past, but in the beginning, this whole thing was a mystery to me. And I actually remember being confused.

(8m 8s):
We were like, how do we get suppliers? Like how do we actually create these things? And I feel like in those moments, it’s so easy for people to give up and to just be like, I don’t have the experience. I don’t know how to do this. And so I’m not qualified, but I love how we work through that. Like, there are always answers and you are always able to learn from someone else. So I remember we got on the phone with other people who have been in this industry for a long time who have been through our footsteps and they were able to offer us help and over time, it just like, it all made Sense. Yeah, exactly. I think me also being like neither of us having that experience in this industry and doing something completely different from our other businesses was obviously a challenge.

(8m 57s):
But do think, like you mentioned, like one of the key things to always do is to make sure that you always ask for help you, you know, ask friends and other people that you have connections with for support and for advice. And it’s, it’s really helpful to see what other people do and then to kind of use their advice and then to turn it into your own thing. So I think that was like a big help for us, like reaching out to friends and people we know that do similar things. And then of course like you and I doing research, like I think I felt the same way at the beginning. Kind of like, okay, I’m not even sure how to even go about drawing jewelry. Like I have the, you know, the vision in my head, but then I’m like, how do I put this on paper so that somebody else can also see what I’m envisioning?

(9m 42s):
And it was like, obviously a challenge. Like I started drawing literally with like a ballpoint and then I was like, okay, this looks terrible. And then I had to like buy other supplies and resources then. And again, you honestly, you do not have to be a professional jewelry designer and like, like an artist to be able to do it. Like, I don’t, I am not a good artist. I’m not a good drawer, but I was able to still put the, the vision I had in my head on paper. Exactly. So that was interesting for me. I think just like doing something that like, it feels silly at first, but then you’re like, Hey, I’m like, I can do this.

(10m 27s):
Like you don’t have to go to school and like, learn some of these things. Like you, you can have like those talents and creative side inside of you and you just have to kind of channel that and bring that out. Yeah. And not getting discouraged throughout it, like seeing it as something that, oh, this is a fun learning experience. Right. And that’s what we always say. Like, it’s about the journey if you’re always so focused on the final product and you’re not getting it on the first try, that’s where the disconnect happens and that’s where burnout happens. But I love how through all of this learning, we’re like laughing about it or like, oh, this is funny. Look at this. And then we’ll also know that in a year, we’ll look back on these and be like, look how far we’ve come.

(11m 9s):
Right. And I think like having a business is always a constant learning experience, growth process. Like it’s not going to be perfect. And you, you just, I, I think that was one of the hardest things for me to accept as like an entrepreneur just being like, Hey, I can make a ton of mistakes. It’s not going to be perfect, like trial and error. And some, you just have to try everything. And then certain things will work and certain things won’t, but it’s just like, you know, a couple years from now, or like our designs will keep improving. We’ll keep improving our brand. And it’s just, you know, like you just can’t give up. It just has to be, you just always have to think, like, I can do anything that I set my mind to.

(11m 51s):
I feel like that’s like my mantra that I just always think about every day when I’m like getting discouraged or think that they can’t do it. Yeah. And I think like through working with you, I have an amazing support system, but having a business partner honestly brings out aspects of the business that are probably in my blind spots. If you weren’t there to call them out, if you weren’t there to like share new ideas. But I feel like having a business partner it’s very motivating. I always have someone to talk to about the business and for all you solo printers out there, this is why it’s so important to either find a community, find an accountability partner, find someone who gets you out of those dark places and supports your vision.

(12m 33s):
And if you have more than one person in that vision together, it’s more likely to succeed. Yeah. I completely agree. I think there’s going to be moments when you, when you’re running a business where you feel like re like that, like the world is ending, or you could just feels like that in a moment. And like, especially if you’re doing it on your own and you don’t have a partner, like it is very difficult. Like I can only imagine. So I, you know, as you mentioned, I think it is really, really key to have those resources, to have other, make other connections and friends and community of people that are doing the same thing as you, or similar things. And it’s really something that I think, you know, you’ll only be able to, you know, improve on some of these things and to, to get out of those ruts, if you’re, you really have that support system and people to talk to About it.

(13m 25s):
One thing I find super fascinating. So Annie runs her clinic with her boyfriend. You guys founded it together and now it’s our business partners as well, which is awesome. How is that? It’s quite a journey. I think it’s brought us even closer together. I think that really, it like running a business with your romantic partner is definitely like a challenge. And it’s something that like, if you’re able to do it well, there’s, I just feel like that just shows how much of its team we really are on it. And it, we really are very compatible because we bring different niches and, and knowledge to the table.

(14m 8s):
Like we have different skills. So like for me, I’m like the more creative side and I like deal with all the clinical stuff and the healthcare stuff. And he is, and I, and I love like the marketing side too. And for him, he’s more like, okay, I have like my finance and tech background and, you know, because we’re so different. I think like we have, we run certain parts of the company and it’s able to work, but definitely sometimes I think like when I’m, you know, going through hardships and challenges in my business, I like definitely think like, what would I do if I didn’t have a partner, I really do look up to people that do it on their own because it is really difficult.

(14m 49s):
And it’s really nice to have, you know, someone that’s going through the exact same thing. One, those things are happening. So I definitely respect and admire people that do it, you know, without a partner. Yeah. I think it each brings its own challenges. And I love what you said about complimenting each other and bringing different ideas to the table. I also feel like that’s what we also do. So Annie is the creative director behind Ananda and she more or less holds like the vision for how each piece is going to look. And honestly, they are beautiful. I wear them in the water every day. They’re all 14 K Goldfields, and you can wear them in the shower. You don’t have to take them off.

(15m 29s):
And I just love how we’re able to blend not only our love for the ocean and the designs, but also the practicality of it As well. Right. Definitely I think, well, first of all, thank you for the compliment, but yeah, I think like our vision, you know, from the very beginning was to make sure that these pieces are not only able to be worn, like to, let’s say like a dinner party or something like chic and when you’re dressing up and then also in the ocean, as, you know, as both of us are watersports people, it’s very important to me that I don’t have to take certain things off and on and off and on when I’m like going in and out of the water because that’s kind of part of my lifestyle every single day.

(16m 13s):
Yeah. And I love How we want to ultimately protect the ocean and the world that we live in. And so all of our packaging is sustainable and that’s something that we wanted in the beginning. Like even before we knew how we were going to create the packaging or what it was going to look like, sustainability is something so fundamental to ANDA. Yeah, definitely. So some of the inspiration behind this, one of my very best friends in Miami owns a company called Lean Orb, which works to create sustainable packaging, biodegradable packaging for food. And she worked with hotels, restaurants, basically all around Miami and other states in the U S so that was a huge inspiration to me.

(16m 60s):
And she even inspired me to become vegetarian Monday through Friday. So that’s, you know, I think being around someone that’s always stressing how important sustainability is and understanding and loving the ocean is, you know, one of the reasons why I really, really wanted to make sure that creating this jewelry brand, we were not adding more plastic and things that are harmful to the environment. So something that I always do for example, is when I look up and, and try to look at packaging and things like that, I always try to run it by someone that is an expert in the subject matter.

(17m 40s):
So my friend Anastasia, she’s someone that has been a great resource for me to be able to show her these things, to make sure that they really are what they say they are. Cause I think that’s something we do have to be careful with. Some, some packaging can be marketed as, you know, environmentally safe and then they aren’t actually biodegradable. So it’s, it’s something important. I think for, you know, anybody out there that is also trying to create products, that there are options out there now, and it’s important to do your research and to kind of see what you can do to help so that you’re not adding to the problem. So, yeah. And Once you have it as a fundamental value of your brand, it’s only going to grow from there.

(18m 25s):
So I know by sharing this episode, our influence and our mission, it’s going to expand to other creators, other e-commerce stores, other people who are thinking about starting their businesses. And that is ultimately my intention with this episode. You guys, you heard about how Annie and I, we don’t necessarily have a background in this, but it’s all about having that growth mindset about knowing that we could do whatever we set our mind soon. Right. I think like running any sort of business that is like the number one thing that like, you really have to shift your mindset, to be able to think positively, to feel like you’re going to really, really manifest your growth.

(19m 7s):
So I think that’s the key. It doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert, you know, it’s all a learning process. So, you know, it’s important not to get discouraged or to feel like you do have to be perfect or to be professional or expert in the matter. Yeah. And every expert was once a beginner. Exactly. I’m sure a few years from now we’ll feel slightly more, you know, experts in the jewelry industry compared to, I guess when we started. So Before we launched Annie and I have set pretty big goals for our brand and one of them is within a year’s time, we want to be in Miami swim week.

(19m 50s):
It’s something that we want to manifest. And we have these goals, even though we are complete beginners, we have these crazy goals. And if you guys joined me and Leanna on clubhouse, this is what setting intentions and setting big goals for your future looks like. And now that we’re sharing it with you guys, Annie, I think we have to do it now. I know it does manifesting it. I think the universe is telling us we have to do it, but yeah, that’s definitely one of our major goals and milestones that we want to hit for next year. For sure. I’ve always really admired Miami’s term wake. I’ve lived here for the past, almost like two and a half years now.

(20m 31s):
And it’s something I’ve always wanted to be involved in. And, and you know, now that we have something that is ocean inspired, I really do want to get involved in and be a part of some of the events and to be able to share our vision and our, and our brand. Yeah. It gives us a lot of joy. And I think we also make a lot of business decisions through that. I always take note of what kind of events, what kind of niches draw me in and lean into that. Right? Give yourself permission to be really excited by this. Even though it’s maybe out of reach right now, it doesn’t mean it’s out of reach for you. Right? Exactly. I think like right now just saying it, it feels crazy and it feels like it’s like not even real or that it’s unrealistic, but I think, you know, like I know that we will be able to do it if we set our minds to it.

(21m 23s):
So I’m excited about this goal. Same and you guys know you can always follow along our journey, but I think that’s it for today. Any, did you have anything else you wanted to add? No, I think that’s it for today. Thank you so much for having me. And If you guys want to check out and support our new line, please head over to Ananda brand.com and you can also follow us on Instagram at under brand. Have an amazing week guys, and I will see you in the next episode.

~~~

✧ Shop ANDA: https://andabrand.com
✧ Follow us on Instagram: https://instagram.com/andabrand

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