I’ve been wanting to interview a designer. And while I’m sure Karl Lagerfield is going to return my call any day now, I recently had the privilege of getting to know Adriana Marie Quaranto, a NYC fashion designer, who creates a unique line of vintage tees. She’s young, motivated, has her own business and a day job, and donates $5 from every tee-shirt sale to charity.
As a part-time blogger, I just had to ask this overachiever a few questions, and if you’ve read this blog before, you know that I think one of the most simple and versatile – yet sexy – things a woman can wear is a tee-shirt. One of the coolest things Adriana does, besides hand-picking each tee, is include an inspirational or empowering message on each one. Her new Spring Collection is due out soon and I had to ask her a few questions…
[Me] Tell us about your upcoming Adriana Marie Co. spring collection.
[Adriana] The upcoming collection is based on love. More specifically, AMore! The spring is a time where the flowers are starting to bloom again, the trees are starting to come back to life and it represents a time of new beginnings. I wanted to incorporate all of those beautiful aspects of nature with AMore by Adriana Marie. Like nature, Love too is a living thing. It buds, blooms, grows, flourishes and sometimes, unfortunately, dies. But at some point it is restored and comes back to life.
[Me] We know there’s such thing as writer’s block- is there such a thing as designer’s block? What do you consider the most challenging about designing a new collection?
[Adriana] Funny you should ask. I sometimes wonder if I get designer’s block as well. But even when I am not designing, I see inspiration in all things I come across. Living in New York City, it is easy to be motivated by all the city has to offer. The lights, the colors, the advertisements, the hustle that is so apparent on each person you walk by as they are on their way to something important in their life.
[Me] Why a tee-shirt collection? Explain its inception.
[Adriana] I wanted to give back to society in a way that was obvious but also had meaning and makes people think. I was brought up with personal development as a must and I have noticed that most people aren’t exposed to that. So, paying homage to my upbringing and collaborating that with my love for designing, I decided to use tee shirts as the positive outlet to give motivating and inspiring messages to everyone that comes across the brand.
[Me] Describe what makes your tee-shirt unique.
[Adriana] AMco tee’s are genuinely one of a kind. I hand-pick each tee-shirt which means they are not mass-produced like every other tee-shirt brand. I design each graphic and come up with each quote and saying that is on them. Not only do my customers get the benefit of having a hand selected and designed tee-shirt by the actual designer, but I also donate a portion of my proceeds to charities I belong to and believe in.
The message on any tee by designer Adriana Marie is uplifting and empowering, motivating and inspiring. Each design is created with purpose, passion, and a sense of aesthetics. Any wearer of an AMCo tee-shirt makes the statement of a grounded individual who is powerful, yet humble, knowledgeable, confident, sophisticated, and timeless.
AMCo is devoted to making smiles, not by way of words, but through action. We do not merely mean to instill hope, but we guarantee change by donating a portion of the profits of each sale to helping the less fortunate. AMCo takes pride in its affiliation with NPO’s such as Dresses for Haiti and Nourishing NYC to whom proceeds are given.
[Me] Where do you get the inspirational messages that go on your shirts?
[Adriana] They come to me, my parents and my sister. I am a big believer in looking within and finding the good in everyone and everything. When I do this, the messages come to me and I write them down. I am always taking notes and finding ways to incorporate life lessons to the brand. We all go through life, we all go through hardships and happy times. I document all of them and turn it into a positive, inspiring and enlightening message.
[Me] Who would you like to see wearing something from your collection?
[Adriana] EVERYONE!!! I think everyone can relate to the brand and the message AMco believes in. As I mentioned, we all go through circumstances, but we don’t all react in a meaningful way that will make us better as a human. The purpose of life is to become the best person we can be. Everyone can find their own personal connection with the brand.
[Me] What emotion do you want your customers to feel when they wear one of your tee-shirts?
[Adriana] Confidence! Hope! Belief! Motivation! Self Worth! The feeling that they are not alone and we all are connected.
[Me] Many guys say they love a woman in a simple tee-shirt. Why do you think a woman in a tee-shirt is sexy?
[Adriana] Great question! I believe it’s because something so simple can exude a woman’s character and confidence while being classy and chic. It’s an easy way to say “I am confident with who I am and I love myself. I don’t have to spend $500 on an outfit to be valued”. Confidence and self-worth is like writing on the wall. It’s there and it’s obvious. So when we wear an AMco tee, we connect and feel that self-worth within.
[Me] What is your ultimate vision for your new collection? What about your brand? Do you plan to expand your line?
[Adriana] The ultimate vision for the AMco brand is to touch lives and make a positive influential difference in people’s lives. I definitely plan to expand the brand. We will talk about those in the next write-up! I have to keep you all on your toes!
[Me] I’m from New England, and there’s something quite enthralling about NYC to me (The Yankees are probably my one exception. Nope wait, the Jets too). What do you love most about being in the fashion industry and being in NYC?
[Adriana] I am from New England too! But I grew up in Florida. And NYC is now my home. I love the Big Apple because there are limitless opportunities combined with such amazing history. It is a real city that can either send you back to where you came from feeling defeated or it becomes part of your blood and never leaves. NYC has definitely taken a hold of me and I love everything about it. NYC suits my fast paced and determined personality. When it kicks me I kick it right back! What I love about being in fashion industry in NY is that I have exposure to what it is really all about. Everything I never knew I am learning and it is nothing I learned in school or anything anyone could have explained to me. You have to be here, live and breathe it and you discover what a world this industry is.
[Me] You are active on social media, how do you think that medium has and will allow you to cultivate brand recognition?
[Adriana] I have made some amazing contacts via social media. Facebook, twitter and four square are a part of my daily life. It is such an interesting medium that allows AMco to reach out to people that we would never have been exposed to if they didn’t exist. Everyone wants to see what they are getting before they get it. And using these platforms gives companies like AMco a way to give their customers just what they want… Instant gratification.
[Me] What inspired your entrepreneurial spirit and what advice can you give someone else pondering the same decision to go for it?
[Adriana] What inspired my entrepreneurial spirit, I would have to say, is being the independent person I have always been. I have always been curious, have always asked a ton of questions, and have always wanted to provide for myself. As I get older, the drive gets stronger. I ultimately want to be able to give back to my parents and sister for all they have given me. I want to provide a good life for the family I plan to have in the future and pass it along to my children. I also think NY has made me much more aggressive in getting what I want and not stopping. There are so many people here trying to do the same thing I am. What makes me different and successful is that I don’t stop and I don’t take “no” for answer.
My best advice to someone else pondering an entrepreneurial path is make sure you love it. There are much more sleepless nights than sleep filled ones. The monetary pay-off is not instant and unless you have a team of people helping you, you are doing all the work. But once you decide that you love what you are creating and you believe in it, nothing can stand in your way. Go for it, don’t stop and make it happen!
[Me] What’s the best thing about owning your business?
[Adriana] The best thing about owning my own business is seeing the growth and the progress of not only the company, but of myself. It’s an indescribably feeling when you have an idea and turn it into something you believe in with all your heart. I get very emotional when people send me messages saying how they just purchased a tee-shirt because the message made a difference in their life. That to me is the best feeling of all.
[Me] What are your thoughts on giving back?
[Adriana] Do it with no regret and do it without expectation of anything in return. And do it frequently.
[Me] We’ve talked about alter egos and pursuing a passion on the side. Describe your day and night personas. Would you ever like them to blend into one?
[Adriana] My alter ego is as a sweater designer for a large company in NYC. My normal ego is being a business owner and woman of all hats for AMco. Not to mention I also consult for a Non Profit Organization. So regardless of where I am, I am always working to grow AMco to its fullest potential.
[Me] What does your closet look like? I have to ask; do you have a huge collection of tee-shirts?
[Adriana] My closet is pretty jam-packed right now actually! I have everything color coded and I dress depending on my mood. I don’t have a set style. I might dress preppy one day, rock the next, and boho chic another day. I change it up all the time. I also do have a HUGE selection of AMco tee’s. I do wear a lot of tee shirts but mostly AMco.
[Me] Who is your favorite designer and why?
[Adriana] Alber Elbaz for Lanvin. More so on a personal level than on a design level. He is extremely gifted and enlightened. He knows the meaning of true personal interaction and puts thought into the little things in life that matter. Such as, writing a letter rather than sending an email; having one friend that is meaningful, true and genuine rather than 1,000 fb friends that he doesn’t know. I respect that.
[Me] What’s on your wish list for spring?
[Adriana] I haven’t even had time to think about what I want! Hahaha… I’ve been putting together a line that my loyal customers want! But now that you mention it, I will take a massage and some sunshine!
[Me] I second that!
[Me] What is your trick to balancing work and life?
[Adriana] Being grounded. Knowing when to listen to my body telling me I have to take a break and steal some “me” time. My life is AMco, it’s my baby. So for me, trying to find some fun time to balance in is the trick.
To learn more about Adriana Marie and the tees, visit http://adriana-marie.com/.
Read my first blog post “The Sex Appeal of Plain White Tee“.