5 takeaways from my conversation with Annabelle Vélez and Anna Hernández, creators of Sandía.
1. Friends make the best business partners.
Some may warn against mixing business with friendship, but there's no need with the designers of Sandía. Self described besties and former co-workers, Annabelle Velez and Anna Hernandez prove that your closest friends can be the best business partners. Three years ago Annabelle got the idea to make a dress for her small niece. One dress, led to three dresses and with the help of Anna, Sandía was born. The two designers come from creative backgrounds and are passionate about art and expression. With Annabelle's experience in advertising and Anna's education in fashion design the two are a fashion match made in heaven.
2. Collaboration is better than competition.
Based in Puerto Rico, Sandía has faced a few challenges. Hurricane María left the island without water and electricity for months. Sandía, like many other small businesses, patiently waited for things to return to normal. In the aftermath of María, resources were limited, but rather than competing for clients, local entrepreneurs hosted pop-ups together to amplify their work and create a space where all could thrive.
3. Prints are life.
"Prints are our jam," says Anna and Annabelle -- who are not shy about their obsession with prints and color. Every garment they create comes from carefully selected prints from all around the world. The two have traveled to Spain, the UK, Thailand, Vietnam and Brazil to find the finest 100% cotton prints. These amazing fabrics have created a children's fashion line that is fun, colorful, and full of personality.
4. Let kids be kids.
Annabelle and Anna see beauty and joy in all children, for this reason Sandía inspires imagination and creativity in every child who sports one of these colorful and vibrant garments. Tired of the typical frilly formal clothes often made for kids, each Sandía item is designed and crafted with children in mind ensuring that every piece of clothing is breathable, flexible and playful. With very few local children brands that check these boxes, Sandía is filling the gap in children's clothing. Annabelle and Anna love receiving messages from customers sharing how confident and happy their children are when wearing Sandía apparel.
5. Don't talk about it, just do it!
Starting a business is never easy, but Anna and Annabelle have some advice to share: "Don't talk about it, just do it. If you have an idea, start making it happen little by little". The Sandía creators both work full time jobs and work on Sandía in their spare time. In the moments of frustration or exhaustion, Anna and Annabelle push through holding on to their dream of becoming their own bosses, opening up stores and Sandía becoming a nationally known brand.