Andi is an author and creative director, but also the founder of her lifestyle and travel blog Oui We where she shares her wanderlust, fashion sense and stylish travelling. In 2014, her first book “New Orleans Style” was published and her career has blossomed ever since. I caught up with Andi and had a chat about social media, great content and her future.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Sure thing! I grew up in a super typical American family. We travelled lots, my grandparents on both sides had colourful travel maps loaded with pins of all the destinations they’d visited hung on the walls. I knew early that travelling was an interest however never considered that there were ways to create a job doing this sort of thing. I spent 10 years working as a senior level executive for a fashion & beauty brand. I lived a life many fashion-loving, career-climbing women in their 20s do. After years of that lifestyle I was (surprise!) missing a connection to myself and a higher purpose. In 2014 I left my corporate job – packing up my camera, books and journals I booked a one-way flight to the Mediterranean. I’d spend the next season travelling. Since then I’ve written my two books and adopted a lifestyle that’s quite a bit different from the one I had in my younger years.
How did you get interested in blogging and the online world?
I started this whole process at the time when fashion bloggers were starting to land front row seats at fashion week and Instagram was starting to make stars out of the “the girl next door.” I launched my first blog with the intention to cover what was happening in my own community — specifically the fashion in New Orleans. At the time I was running the fashion week program there and that’s all I wrote about.
What’s the inspiration behind the name ‘Oui We’ and your platforms? How does it differentiate from others?
I translate Oui, We loosely I suppose to Yes, Us – from the French word for Yes (Oui) and then We, literally, like you and me or all of us. My personal mission is to inspire women to live their most authentic lives through mystical practices, creativity and experiential travel. I hope that shines through on my digital publication and platforms.
Why and when did you launch your online channels? How did you grow your following and gain an engaged audience?
Originally I was simply covering fashion in my own community – however, that summer of ‘14 as I lived in Spain (that Mediterranean trip I mentioned) I fell in love with the mindset of artistic survival and for the first time, I was having to live that way. I’d travel around (on a serious budget, btw!) and the idea to relaunch my site and my digital channels as a home for bohemian travellers — with stories about the spirit that comes alive in oneself when travelling that way — happened there. My audience grew as I was able to truly dedicate time to the site, and as I met more women engaged in this sort of lifestyle as well. I have a few friends that work in this field too, and they helped to cheer me on, encourage me to take this seriously and shared my work with their followers.
When you started your platforms, how did you gain knowledge within web design and building a functional platform that your audience loves?
I had to ask for so much help! I had a marketing company design my first site, and truly, I didn’t love it. I felt it wasn’t a true reflection of me, however, I didn’t know how to do it myself. I actually had a college student that interned for me teach me some basic coding skills and then I just dove into forums and online Q&As until I learned enough to do the work myself.
You have two published books – can you tell us a bit more about the way to getting published and what your books are about?
Ahhh, yes — it feels so special anytime I can talk about the books! I’m so glad to see Wanderful, my second book out in the world. The process is so damn lengthy, about 2 years. So here’s sort of how it all breaks down, my first book was a commissioned project. Basically, a publisher came to me and asked me to write it. That book New Orleans Style is a history of the costume and couture of the city of New Orleans. Once that book came out I was interested in writing a second book with this idea of telling a story of bohemian travel & fashion all in one. I created a pitch, a lengthy one – basically, a mini book sought out an agent for Wanderful and then once we finally sold the concept to a publisher the true work began.
How would you describe your everyday style?
I’d call my style maximal-eclectic collector. I love texture and layers sprinkled with collected personal treasures.
The influencer industry has grown massively in the last couple of years, where do you see it in the future and what are your thoughts on working with brands?
When it comes to working with brands I operate the same way I do in all of my life choices: is this something I can incorporate into my daily life because I truly love it? Does the brand have a socially conscious component, are they aware of what’s happening in the world and considering positive ways to contribute? If so, that’s a brand I want to work with!
In regards to the industry: I suppose there will be a bit of a bubble on all of this at some point – I personally feel it’s so important to explore creative outlets outside of just one social channel (for most influencers that one channel is Instagram) – for me that creative outlet is my books and my site! Plus, those that aren’t operating with integrity won’t have sustainability in future, I’d imagine.
What do you value the most about your work and what is the hardest part?
There’s much I could say about this! I love art, film, music and poetry that evokes ephemeral emotions that are kind of hard to identify. I value the opportunity to inspire other girls to find their own creativity and true self through the work that I put out.
When I’m considering creating imagery or writing something new I think about finding a way — through movement or light or the fluidity of the words — to have the reader feel as if they were right there in the experience, and then to consider their own experience. Does that make sense?!
The hardest part is the comparison game I suppose. It’s a visual world in which we’re all evaluated through “likes” and keeping the ego out of that can be hard.
There is a lot of discussion around over-editing to make the perfect look nowadays, what are your thoughts on this?
Hm, well I love a bit of perfect imperfection. I’d rather see someone’s true self than a super edited version.
Where do you imagine yourself in 5 years and how did you get there?
I’m working on a third book concept now, so in 5 years I suppose I’d like to be working on a 4th – and – simply being connected to myself, my partner Ben and our life together. To get there I’m always considering new ways to work on me, new places to travel to and new people to share experiences with.
At last, any tips for aspiring bloggers?
Consider the things that you loved most as a young child: What got you excited? What did you do when you “played”? Spend time re-considering those things and focus on that as you begin to write and create images. I find that remembering the things that we loved early in life will guide us. Additionally: look for people out there doing things that inspire you and connect with them! Seek out mentors and guides along the way!
Interview and text by: Lene Hille
Images: Andi Eaton