“Do you!” Andrea Tomlin creates clothing business encouraging customers to celebrate their unique selves

Andrea “Mimi” Tomlin is a flynerd and wants everyone to know it.

Her website describes a “flynerd” as “someone who embraces their weirdness and quirks. They are confident in who they are and what they like despite what others may think.” Derived from the word “fly” (meaning something cool or stylish) and “nerd” used usually in a negative way to describe smart people, Ms. Tomlin hopes to inspire her customers with her unique and individual clothing pieces. Ms. Tomlin is “doing all the things” as she described, concerning her business. Founded in 2013, Ms. Tomlin was always interested in clothes and fashion since she was a teen. “I knew that I always wanted to make clothes in some way. I went to Parson for an associate degree in Fashion. That contributed some to the T-shirt aspect. For the nerd part, I was inspired by PJ Morton’s music. I identified with his aesthetic because I was a natural nerd as a child.”

More designs made by Ms. Tomlin at her pop up shop in Baltimore, Maryland.

With her clothing line, she hopes to connect people together to let them know that being a nerd–and being different in general–is ok. “I just want to spread that message that it’s ok to be yourself. Embrace those things about yourself that others might deem weird or quirky.”

In 2013, Ms. Tomlin worked at an art store where she learned all she could about screen printing. “When I was at the store and people would come in and ask about screen printers, I would ask them questions about the products and then as I learned more, I would go on YouTube. Then I learned that I could just go to my job and get that stuff. And that’s how I started.” Ms. Tomlin began on her business journey two years after the start of her business, which was successful then quickly fell off after the holidays. “I quit my job at the art store to work on the business full time. And then after the holiday season, it was like crickets, so I talked to another entrepreneur who said I could work at another job to supplement my money. So I started working at the library, which made me think: “this is kinda a part of the brand”.

Flynerd Apparel’s pop up shop located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ms. Tomlin continued working at the library for two more years, then became full-time with her business. One of her biggest struggles now are deciding how she spends her time and adding balance, especially since she is a one-woman show. “Before when I wasn’t working full time, I would go home and use that time to work on my business, or relax, and now, there was a clear difference. But now, I feel that there’s a tendency to have to work all the time. I’m still finding that adjustment, especially since I’m based out of my home, I see things laying around when I’m trying to relax and I think ‘oh I should work on that’ and then I’m like, no. I don’t have to work myself into the grave for my own self. Rest is a part of the journey.”

Ms. Tomlin also had to deal with relocating all of her equipment back to her home during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the bulk of her equipment now at her home as opposed to her having to drive to her studio to work, she is still learning how to separate work life from personal life. “I have gotten a lot better than I was a few years ago. Pushing yourself so much in one day does take its toll.” She dedicates herself to making herself and her business excellent. “It’s enough of a challenge managing myself.”

“I listen to a lot of inspirational stuff, I read a lot of books about positive thinking and law of attraction. I check in with myself day to day,” Ms. Tomlin shared. Ms. Tomlin likes to tell herself, “we gon’ make it work” especially when it comes to scheduling tasks and getting things done to better promote her business.

Ms. Tomlin would like others to know that people who create has to see the value in the things that they create. “You have to see the value in the things that you do. I definitely see the value in the things that I do, but acknowledging all the different roles that I play is hard because I’m in it. I’m always thinking about how I can do business better and how I can grow and offer better services. And my boyfriend says ‘you do all this stuff’.

Ms. Tomlin wants entrepreneurs to learn that rest is important. “I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to celebrate every step and every time you show up for yourself, and when you need rest, celebrate that too. I think the aspect of personal appreciation is an important part of following your goals and following your dreams. I think we drink the kool-aid and think ‘once I’ve accomplished this then I’ve made it’ but even as you’re pursuing your dream, appreciate yourself, appreciate who you are, and appreciate the journey.”

Follow Andrea Tomlin on Instagram here.

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