She bit her tongue three-quarters of the way across because she fell and popped her mouth. She’s clumsy because her muscles don’t contract quickly enough to stop her. It’s not so bad now, but it was scary when she was little. When we had her, we had a lot of complications when we were pregnant. It was the same thing: learning how to adjust and figure out how do we pick her up and how do we not hurt her and not hurt me at the same time.
PHYLLIS SMITH: How did you do that? You had this brand-new baby, and you must’ve had some fear about dropping her or – what did you do?
ANDREA WHITLEY: Yeah, oh my gosh. We’re going to break her. She’s more resilient than I give her credit for, but I cannot deadlift things. We figured out when she could move she’d crawl up on my lap, sit on my hip then we’d stand up together. I use the couch to kind of lift-up. It was a lot of work around. It’s just figuring out how to make things work – picking her up, picking up gallons of milk, it’s the same concept. You can’t dead lift things. What’s the work-around for it?
PHYLLIS SMITH: Which brings us to your business. Your business is called Blessed Attire. This is a Christian-based apparel company, and when you started it you were brought in to do sales by a friend. You were going to do sales, and he was going to do IT and then he left. And you came up with this bright idea to take over the business despite your condition and had to learn a whole bunch of stuff. First, why did you do that? Why did you even decide to take on a business, knowing your limitations? You just started in 2016 and you have a young daughter, too.
ANDREA WHITLEY: Yes, because I have “crazy” written across my forehead. I just felt it was the right thing to do with everything that’s been going on in this country – it was just so negative. Every news story was negative, and every story you hear coming home. This is getting insane. There must be something positive that we can get going. This seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like the best idea: Positive messages and starting conversations in Christ. I didn’t want it to not be able to go forward. My friend who was the one to start had started getting some traction with it, but he owns an IT company and had an opportunity to expand his business, so it was the right decision for him to do. We had talked, and he said, “I really think you should go forward.” I’m like, “I really think you’re nuts.” It just felt right, and I couldn’t say no. I wanted to try the design work, and I have no background in design, in IT, in anything, but starting the conversations in Christ, getting the designs out there and getting some positive messages just felt like the right thing to do.
I have no background in design, in IT, in anything, but starting the conversations in Christ, getting the designs out there and getting some positive messages just felt like the right thing to do.
PHYLLIS SMITH: This falls in line with your liking to solve puzzles.
ANDREA WHITLEY: Yes.
PHYLLIS SMITH: It makes sense as we’re talking through it – yay, I can learn!
ANDREA WHITLEY: Let’s go figure them out. Yeah, I had to learn how to build a website, which I had no experience in. I had to learn graphic design, Photoshop, how to setup a Shopify store, and how to do taxes. I had to learn how to find the right shirts, suppliers, vendors and printers. I had to find out if I can get into stores, which is one of the goals for 2018 - to get into 10 stores across the country. I had to learn how to do vendor shows, what a booth looks like and how to build clothing racks. Yeah, it was a lot of learning.
PHYLLIS SMITH: And it still is, but you also say one of the most important things for you is you make sure you had support.
ANDREA WHITLEY: Yes, a lot of support. It took a little bit to realize, but you must get to a point where – my husband is wonderful and very supportive. My parents are supportive, and I have a wonderful sister who helps. They’re my backbone. I had to learn that math is not my strong suit, so I had to get somebody in here to help with the accounting aspect. I need somebody to teach me how to do design work. I don’t know SEO and coding, and someone must show me how to do this. When you start a company, you must realize that you cannot do everything on your own, even if you are a crazy control freak like I am. You have to get those people in your wheelhouse that you can go to that are going to be honest with you and say, “This is great. This is stupid. This is not going to work. I’ve tried this and it’s not a good idea.” There were designs I thought would do great that nobody liked but me. The shirt I have on, Just Breathe – I didn’t know this was going to work, but this is one of our best sellers. It’s learning what works and getting those people behind you that are going to be supportive but honest.
If It's Not Working, Try Something Else
PHYLLIS SMITH: Tell us the lessons you’ve learned from having EDS and how you apply that in your business.
ANDREA WHITLEY: I think one of the biggest ones is to try, and if you try and you fail, it’s okay. With the EDS, like I said earlier about sports: I tried them, failed miserably and moved on, but at least I tried. It’s the same thing with business. You’re going to make mistakes, but at least make the effort to try, and if you make the mistake and you fail, learn from it. Like I said, some of the designs I tried that I thought were going to be great, they were awful. Nobody liked them but me. It’s trying – I tried this business, and it’s wonderful. It’s going great, and it’s a lot of fun.
I wanted to give back to the community, and I tried a program that just wasn’t working, so we have a different one out there. Try, make an effort and try. It is okay to fail. It is okay to make a mistake. Don’t give up and go, “Well, I tried. I failed, and I’m not going to do it again.” Nope, get back up and try it again. If you’re going to fail, try it again. Figure out what you did wrong and say, “Okay, well, if I had done it this way, what could have happened?" Try it that way and then keep trying.
You’re going to make mistakes, but at least make the effort to try, and if you make the mistake and you fail, learn from it.