Designer Profile: Andrea Wong

Andrea Wong is no stranger to Much & Little. We’ve carried her beautiful products for quite a while now and are excited to share this interview with a local designer that we support and love! The Vancouver resident, along with her personal team, designs and produces handcrafted leather goods inspired by the Pacific Northwest. With a meticulous attention to detail, functionality, and visual appeal, Andrea Wong’s creations are timeless, attractive, and practical. Each product is unique, tells a story, and is meant to age gracefully with use and love.

You can find out more at: https://awbyandreawong.com/

Pictured above: Granville tote in caramel, Main backpack in black, Northwest crossbody bag in caramel (https://awbyandreawong.com/).

Pictured above: Granville tote in caramel, Main backpack in black, Northwest crossbody bag in caramel (https://awbyandreawong.com/).

It was our pleasure getting to know the designer in more depth; here’s a glimpse into her life and creative process:

1.   What was the inspiration behind the first AW by Andrea Wong collection?

“When I first began AW by Andrea Wong, it happened quite organically. I was taking some time off for the first time in over a decade after working as a full time designer in corporate fashion. I travelled quite a lot during my time as a clothing designer and had accumulated leather skins and beautiful handwoven and printed textiles. I began experimenting and working with the materials that I had on hand. I spent time enjoying the process and creativity brought on by these limitations.

Initially, I started producing bags without the intention to sell them. I wanted to give new life to these beautiful materials that I had just admired on a shelf, so it was important that they would also function well for everyday adventures. I started taking my studio projects more seriously when I had a friend come to visit and insist that I sell her a bag. Sometimes it just takes that one person to encourage you to take that leap. I ended up a bit backwards having the products first before I even had a logo or a brand name.”

2.   How do you ensure the uniqueness of your designs against the competition?

“Every item in my collection continues to be handcrafted; this is a slow but rewarding process. This also influences the way I design. I don’t want to be producing an item that someone could find in any leather line. If I am going to be spending the time to make a lovingly handcrafted item, I want to create a unique and functional design with quality materials that will age gracefully. My passion lies in the design process and less so in the business side of things. I enjoy spending my time thinking about specific details like closures, pockets and leather strap attachments to ensure that my designs are unique to my line and well thought out.”  

3.   Was there a particular motivation behind the need to focus on women’s accessories specifically? Do you plan to branch out into creating other types of products?

“I suppose the products I initially created were more feminine. However, my line has been moving into cleaner more architectural lines which is creating more gender neutral items. I started designing more tech focused items such as laptop cases and phone slings which is something that I would like to continue to explore.”  

4.   What is the aspect of your business that you take the most pride in?

“After designing for reputable clothing lines with regular visits overseas at the factory level, I knew when I started my business that it was important to me to keep things more localized. I am proud that I run an ethically sourced and locally produced business.”

5.   What is/has been the most challenging part of your journey as a designer?

“The most challenging aspect of my journey as a designer is growing my business without compromising the product or the values that I have instilled.” 

6.   What are some of your other hobbies, interests, and passions?

“I am most happy in the outdoors. If I am on a snowboard in the winter or camping along the coast in the summer, I am at ease. I have worked along side the DTES community for years and am now looking at different ways I can effectively input my skill set.”  

7.   As someone who appreciates what Vancouver has to offer, what is your favourite thing about this city? 

“The mountains and the ocean! In the summer you can have a sunset beach picnic after work. In the winter you can hit a local mountain and have a snowboard session after work – and that’s all just during the week!” 

8.   What do you hope to achieve in the future, personally and professionally? 

“When I began working on AW it was a very open and exploratory time. I am looking forward to returning to that mode of productive and playful uncertainty as I continue to explore other avenues. I don’t want to limit myself to just design but also more outdoor adventures involving back country camping and bike touring as well as community development work.”