There are seasons in life that we love to cherish – I’m currently reminiscing on my college days, but there are others that we don’t particularly enjoy reflecting on. I can’t be the only one who has tried to erase all photo evidence of my life between 6th and 8th grade. I’m in this post-college, real adulthood transitional phase of life that I’m having a love-hate relationship with and I know I’m not alone in this weirdly beautiful place. As I scroll through mundane job listings that require a decade of experience on top of my degree, I can’t help but weigh all of my options for the best next step in life. I thought it’d be wise to pick the mind of a woman who turns everything she touches into gold. Andi Eaton has been and continues to successfully be a lady boss in the entrepreneurial world. While sipping a cup of coffee, or three, with the author, stylist, and fashion designer (to name a few) I set out to discover what made her the fabulous Andi oui all adore.
Q: What was your first step after graduating?
A: I worked as an assistant publicist for a music venue while still in college and continued in that job after graduation. I did that for three years and I loved it but I realized everybody that worked in that industry was doing it because they had a passion for music not because they were making any money. I had a real interest in fashion and beauty too so I chose to move on to an outside sales position with AVEDA for more income. I stayed with the company for 10 years. I learned so much from that experience but my career path is always evolving.
Q: When did you choose to break away from AVEDA and start rocking it in the entrepreneurial world?
A: Between Fashion Week, Hazel & Florange, and writing New Orleans Style, I decided it was time to focus on my ventures. It wasn’t until I left for Spain in the summer of 2014 to write New Orleans Style that I officially began my own journey.
Q: As a stylist, you couldn’t find pieces you wanted so you created them, leading to the birth of Hazel & Flo. So, where did Fashion Week come from?
A: I was on a plane to Vegas and I ended up sitting with Kathleen Turpel, the owner of Imaginal Marketing. We were talking about how there should be a fashion and beauty festival in the city to showcase entrepreneurial designers who are basically sewing in their kitchens. It would be a place for fresh brands to show their work, like Jolie and Elizabeth, who at the time was brand new.
By the time the plane landed we had planned fashion week. We were sitting there for three hours brainstorming and then we were like, why not do it? I remember getting back and calling Jolie and Matt Arthur and putting this idea into their heads about a weekend of shows and education. They were all like why not, let’s do it.
It was a crazy snowball effect with how quickly everything happened. I remember sitting down with some other marketing and PR people and telling them Paris parker, Imaginal Marketing, and a couple of other small entities would get together for a fashion-beauty festival. They said I was crazy and they’d love to help me. Everybody was game.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: I’m always open to the next thing showing up and I feel like in this town things are always popping up right when you need them to. The event-planning job I have with the Michalopoulos Studio Gallery is totally unlike anything I would’ve expected to come my way. It came up because we did Fashion Week at the rum distillery that James (Michalopoulos) owns so I got to know the staff there pretty well. They thought the job was a perfect fit for me.
I’ve never worked in fine arts before but I understand how to work with creative people and it’s been really awesome. I’m travelling and learning so much while I’m able to work on my other projects.
Q: Other projects? I’m intrigued…
A: I’m working on a new book right now. It’s basically a guide to travel style and an outline to different road trips to take throughout America. Hopefully it will be the first in a series to come.
Q: You’ve been traveling quite a bit lately. Have you always been this jet set gypsy?
A: Growing up, my family traveled a lot. We took a lot of weekend road trips. In college, I would pile into a car with a bunch of friends and we’d just drive somewhere.
My first five years out of school I was working so much I didn’t travel as much as I’d like so when I moved to New Orleans I decided to spend my money and time traveling rather than on materialistic things.
Q: Has your style always been a combination of gypsy jet-setter and quirky art school indie-lover, with a dash of tropical princess?
A: It’s kind of always been that way. Growing up I always had a different sense of style because my parents were not spending $50 on Gap jeans so I decided to be over the top with bell-bottoms from Goodwill. Making my own style was my way of feeling like I was fitting in. The dash of tropical princess is definitely a New Orleans addition.
Q: How would you describe New Orleans’ fashion in three words?
Spirited, expressive and quirky.
Q: Where do you think those traits come from?
A: I think the carnivals and celebrations that are constantly happening in the city cause the fashion to be just that. When you think about the Mardi Gras Indians among many others, these people grow up making their own costumes and expressing themselves through clothing. It’s part of the culture.
Also having such proximity to the tropics with influence from the islands and also the Spanish and French influence gives all this crossover from cultural components that make this city so unique. The color and expressions in the architecture cross over into the way people dress. You don’t drive through a neighborhood in Atlanta, for example, and see a neon yellow house next to a hot pink house next to this beautiful balcony from the 1700’s. That’s just the way the streetscape is here.
So from a fashion perspective, it’s really easy to push the boundaries a little bit here. You also have to dress practically for the weather. There’s a difference in term of fabrics and the way things are layered as well as color stories.
Q: What are your fall fashion must-haves for this season?
A: I’m obsessed with up cycled denim overalls. I currently love everything from New Orleans brand Holt McCall. The hand embroidered pizza emblems are so cute.
I also love an artful approach to florals for any season – realist depictions and those of the hand stitched and painted variety. The schoolgirl micro pleat in its all grown up version is a perfect approach to daytime dressing. I love the chic modern versions of hippie day dresses inspired by Talitha Getty’s luxe approach to boho.
Q: What advice do you have for the people like me who are trying to figure out their next step in life?
A: When you’re getting to that point where you’re ready to start looking for “the thing” you just need to explore what’s out there. Always keep your eye open for hidden opportunities. Don’t shut anything down right away. Be open to the possibilities. Connect with everyone you possibly can. Truly go above and beyond to get to know people in the industries that you might have interest in.
Don’t say no to anything unless you’re super sure it’s not going to support who you are.
Love & Lyons,