We had the chance to speak to Andra Sandru – founder and COO of Baxter House. Andra was the creative director and COO of the Krea Group – an umbrella brand for minimalist ready-to-wear brands.
It’s great to talk – what is your backstory?
I was 21 when I started my first company importing and selling lifestyle goods across Europe. I then set up a coffee shop before moving back into consumer goods and fashion in 2015.
I have always been an ‘entrepreneur’ and never had a 9-5 (I’m 33 now and so far so good).
I’ve always liked the quote:
“Entrepreneurs are willing to work an 80-hour work to avoid a 40 hour week”.
Tell us about Baxter House
Baxter House is an ethical sourcing and manufacturing agency based in London. We help fashion and apparel brands make their products in an ethical and efficient way. We manufacture all products in the EU.
In 2015, we started designing and manufacturing clothing for private labels. Based We then ran our own clothing brand for 3 years. We had some success but also found out first-hand the challenges of making our clothes at scale.
When we were looking to increase production for our own brand we could not find anyone that. We did not want to make our clothes in Asia as the minimums were too high and we were not sure of the quality. We also didn’t want to make our items in the UK at this point.
To keep costs low we visited factories in Eastern Europe and made contacts with the owners. In this way, we cut out the intermediaries and we could keep an eye on the quality. This also cut down the lead times for delivery–good for cash flow.
In 2019 we met other small brands who also had the same issues.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We know what it takes to run a fashion brand and this is how we help our clients. We educate them in both how to manufacture but also what to make and why. This means that we can help them get the best price for their products but also manufacture the right items.
We have strong relationships with factories in Europe. This means we’re working with the right partner for each of our clients.
We work directly with the factories and so have a direct influence on working conditions. All of the factories we work with have great working conditions (which we keep an eye on). We also know who has manufactured each garment meaning we can track the supply chain back to the source.
How has the coronavirus affected business?
It’s been a very interesting few months. The pandemic has changed the rules and people are taking their work in to their own hands. We have seen an increase in requests for quotes and have started some cool projects.
We are in a unique position to help brands get off the ground and look forward to seeing these brands come to market.
What changes do you see in the fashion industry after Covid?
We will see more people buy local. We’ll see more people support brands they know. And we’ll see more people supporting brands where they can meet the founders.
The return of on-shoring is a possibility. This is the opposite of offshoring when products are made in other countries. Hopefully, we will see a return to manufacturing in Europe and the UK.
All this helps sustainability, a core part of why we are in business.
It would be great to hear more about you. What advice would you give a potential founder?
- How someone does anything is how they do everything. In practice, this means work ethic is a great filter of who to work with.
- There are lots of ideas out there but executing on them is completely different. Find people who prove they can execute.
- I don’t believe in aggressive networking. Always being in pitch mode is exhausting and doesn’t work. Just be a good human.
- Do your due diligence! There’s a lot about this in the book I wrote. Spending a few hours doing due-diligence could save you headaches down the road. Be curious about your idea. Ask people what they think but ask the right questions. Develop a genuine interest in what people do in different industries. Also pay attention to what skills are transferable.
Any closing thoughts?
Now is a good time to start your business. Take the first steps and try. There will always be uncertainty and if you want to try something it might as well be now.