Sunday funday was spent at the beach pit of the Surf Lodge in Montauk, where I hosted friends and family for a day of children’s activations and delicious mini bites. Monica & Andy put together a great roster of activities including DJ lessons, making customized hand painted jackets, building sand castles, and face painting. The kids snacked on mini lobster rolls, chicken fingers, crudités, mini grilled cheese, and fresh little spoon smoothies packed with healthy ingredients. Monica & Andy had a booth filled with the cutest printed onesies, dresses and pajama sets, my favorite being the banana leaf print! Everyone enjoyed mingling and the kids had a fun-filled day, which is really what Sundays are all about! A win win!
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We launched our e-commerce site four years ago and have had a great NYC customer base from the beginning. We officially opened our Upper West Side guideshop (on 79th and Columbus) summer of 2017.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I had two main major points of inspiration. First, I watched my brother launch and build Bonobos, a menswear line. I was so impressed with how he built a brand with customer service at its core. He simultaneously built Bonobos’ online and offline presence and I realized through watching his growth how imperative both of those channels were to a company’s success.
At the same time, I had my daughter and I realized I had so many pain points as a new Mom, ranging from everything to the quality of what my newborn was wearing, to how I was feeling navigating motherhood. I felt so “out of the know” and set out to create a brand with not only great apparel, but to be a resource for moms. I wanted Monica + Andy to feel like your first mom friend.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
I think if you have a product company, first and foremost, your product has to stand out.
We offer GOTS certified organic cotton and it stands up to multi wash tests. As a new Mom, before this brand, I felt like a lot of the clothing I bought her felt rough and disposable. I wanted super soft and washable fabrics that would wear well as long as the baby fit in them. We also curate the right pieces at the right stage with our cuddle boxes, which we hope takes the guesswork out of what a mom needs depending on their little one’s age.
Customer service is also at the core of everything we do. Whether you need help, a guideshop, or prefer to chat through the site, call or email, our team is standing by to help with whatever a customer needs.
We also set our physical retail spaces apart by offering an array of experiences and events for expecting parents and little ones. We offer art, music, story time, expectant parent classes, lactation consultants and so much more! We are truly a community online and offline but especially in our physical retail spaces. We didn’t want stagnant stores. We wanted cookie crumbs and diaper changes. We wanted babies to take their first steps and we wanted mamas to feel like they had a safe haven to pop in and do whatever they needed.
I think one other key differentiator is that we are a gifting solution for both moms and dads and non-parent gift givers. Each of our packages is hand wrapped with a hand written note (free of charge!) and many pieces can be embroidered for that extra special touch.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
I think building a brand takes time and is very multi channel. I also feel humble about what we have done as a brand, so far, yet, excited for the future. I think after four years of being in business, what I’ve learned about longevity is that evolution is the key. Every year there is a new group of new mamas and we plan to keep learning and evolving with them. Our product line has also expanded with our customers as we now offer clothing sizes up to 7T. We still have everything you need for newborns but we are excited to continue to grow and offer great products for new ages.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
We hope that we can feel like a safe haven, and your first Mom friend after you have a baby. Many of us at Monica + Andy are moms, as well, and the brand came out of pain points that I personally experienced as a new Mom. We love apparel, but we also hope we are providing the right services to enrich the lives of expectant parents and the little kiddos with the programming we offer.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Getting to meet our customers or see their shared photos on social and being a small part of that super special time in peoples' lives. Watching the transition to parenthood for our customers is the very best part. It is so fun to see the babies all wrapped up in our Hospital Cuddle Boxes pieces or to see the first steps they take in our pieces. On the internal front, it is building and spending time with our team. I love the energy at the guideshop locations, as well, at the Monica + Andy headquarters. We really try to have fun and not take ourselves too seriously as a brand.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
My favorite NYC spot is The Marlton Hotel. I hold all of my meetings there and love their coffee and breakfast.
How do you benefit mamas?
We have hopefully built a brand that is a small benefit to moms with the way that we curate what they need for each stage of the game, as well as provide them related content. We hope when you walk in the doors of our NYC guideshop location (or any of them for that matter!), you will feel like you have a spot to let your kids run free without worry for a few minutes and enjoy the experiences we provide.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
I had a few miscarriages after my first daughter and wrote a bit about it. The outpouring of other people that had the same experience was so touching. When you have a miscarriage you feel so isolated and alone. Speaking up about it and hearing others share their stories with me made me feel a little less alone.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field.
Oh wow, there are so many amazing people! Tim Brown of Allbirds, Jen Rubio of Away, my husband Rob Royer at Interior Define, Rachel Blumenthal of Rockets, the list goes on and on. I actually have been fortunate enough to have interviewed many of them in my Podcast The Mentor Files which has been a small way to pay if forward to our listeners. I felt I had access to such great business advice and I wanted to democratize that advice for everyone.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
“It’s now or never.” My brother gave me that advice when I was thinking of starting the brand and it comes back to me often. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
My mom gave me some advice recently that has really helped me. (First, I should disclose that my parents live in the same condo building as my husband and I, and help us out so much). My mom told me “fail to prepare and prepare to fail” and it’s so true. When I don’t spend any time preparing for the week or the day, it’s so much tougher. My number one time saving tip is prepping the night before or on Sunday for the week. Whether that’s planning lunches, putting swim bags together or making outfit selections, organizing it advance just seems to make the day go by smoother. Alas, this might seem counter-intuitive but time spent recharging me, either through workouts, blowouts, etc., gives me more energy to get the other things I need to get done. Taking a break to recharge can help save you time in the long run.