Anthony Andrews - Bespoke Textiles
Anthony Andrews, Co-owner/designer of the men’s accessory line, Twenty23, says he’s been “dressing up” as long as he can remember. Anthony, a Lynchburg native, is a self-taught haberdasher with a lifelong love for fashion and a dream of entrepreneurship. Anthony has long had a fondness for hats, bowties, pocket squares and the like, but instead of going into the fashion industry after graduation, he joined the Lynchburg Fire Department. Then he got married, started a family and, as is often the case, Life got in the way.
But Anthony just couldn’t shake his love for fashion and his dream of owning a business someday. So, he borrowed a sewing machine and taught himself to sew. He started designing his own bowties and pocket squares. The result is Twenty23, what Andrews describes as a “bold and courageous” line of bowties and other men’s accessories. “Fashion is what’s sold in stores and what people are encouraged to purchase,” he says. “Style, on the other hand, is an individual’s personality, intertwined with the fabric, the accessories, the shoes.” Anthony is committed to helping the average male and young man dress to their full potential. The goal is to re-establish the gentleman.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I knew I wanted to be an artist since about 2004, but a very different kind of artist. My artistry was to take an idea, create it, sell it, and add value to my life or the lives of others. My artistry has been entrepreneurship. It was not until 2013 when I decided to combine that artistry with my love for fashion and sewing. They seemed liked the perfect marriage. However, the hurdles were not creating the products and business, but to expose it to the rest of the world and have it recognized. That is usually the largest hurdle for any artist.
How does your personal story/background influence your work?
My work of sewing, searching great fabrics, and producing one of a kind bow ties are influenced by interior design. I have always been a fan of interior design since high school and how various items and textures work together. I am impressed with the compliment that a leather tuffed sofa may give to a pair of silk or linen draperies. Those ideas sometimes flow over into the world of fashion and wearable textiles.
Which of your works are you most proud of?
There have been so many proud moments from having the opportunity to present our bow ties for Belk to having Rashad Jennings be a personal supporter and partner of our company. However, the proudest example of our work has been having a 13 year old boy from my old neighborhood tell me that he wants to be a better man because of our bow ties. That pushes me to continue with the artform of creating something with quality and value.
What is the hardest part about being a professional artist?
The hardest part of being a professional artist is finding ways to reinvent yourself and to remain relevant. And not only relevant in the sense of a brand, but relevant in the sense of trends. Some artists love painting with oil paints, I love creating bow ties. And like every artist, I would love to see my work still present forty to fifty years from now. My artistry will have the ability to be passed down from one generation to next.
What advice would you give aspiring artists who come from minority or under-represented groups?
I have used the following tips in every aspect of my personal and professional life.
- Always Challenge Yourself. I always try to be prepared to step out of my comfort zone and use the helms of GOD to lead the way.
- Invent The Box. People always talk about thinking outside of the box. But if you invent the box, you are in control of thinking inside, outside, under it, on top of it and around it.
- Foster Personal Relationships. In a community as oriented as Lynchburg, it's important to build lasting friendships and relationships with small business owners, council members, government officials, customers, teachers, public safety, neighbors, etc. It's also equally important to surround yourself with people that you allow to be honest with you to keep you accountable.
- Have Personal Responsibility. Be ready to accept the failures as much as you accept the successes. I've learned more from falling than succeeding. It was the nights when I was frustrated with my sewing machine that my best creativity prospered.
- Remain Humble, Have Great Manners, and Simply Be Nice. I understand that there's a higher power and this thing we call life is BIGGER than me. It is my responsibility to pay it forward for others.