Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Michael Andrews, who launched Ampersand. Co to connect people, brands, music, events, food, and artists together in whichever way would best drive talent and success. So far, so good…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
While primarily my job can be classified as sales, there is so much more to what I consider my occupation. I like to consider myself a Lifestyle Curator. I connect the dots bringing people, brands, music, events, food, and artists together in whichever way best suits their ability to thrive and grow. I often joke that I’m addicted to talent and so I always want the best for those around me and jump at any opportunity to connect people, places and things in order to drive their talent and success.
Whether I am selling a brand to a store, booking a musical artist at a hot new venue in Toronto, or sponsoring top athletes for targeted brand marketing, my agency is your one-stop shop for anything a growing business could need.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I was always the guy with one foot in every clique in high school, but with graduation fast approaching I was still unsure what I wanted to do. My guidance counsellor signed me up for a co-op program at a local Nissan dealership where she encouraged me to work and complete an apprenticeship program. Four years later I was finished my apprenticeship making a high five-figure income but dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. One of my best friends, Shane Vitaly Foran (Owner of Vitaly), started Vitaly and I was so inspired by the idea of entrepreneurship. I needed to prove I could sell for him. I quit my technician job, got some sales training, and before I knew it I was selling Vitaly Canada-wide and Ampersand Co. was born.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Other than being my own boss, making my own hours, and working with my best friends, I get to meet some of the most talented people from the music, fashion and food industries. It’s very humbling to be able to be on text messaging basis with people I personally look up to. Having that personal connection to every aspect of my job makes every day and every experience better than the last.
The most challenging part of my day is trying to fit everything I need to do into a 24-hour window. And I say 24 hours because work doesn’t stop at 5pm – ever. Every day feels like Friday and Monday all at the same time.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I like to think that I have a pretty good handle on my work-life balance mainly because my job rarely feels like work. Our motto at Ampersand Co. is Love our brands, love our lifestyle, and so my job is mainly to live my life and get others to want to live it with me. I’m lucky enough to be able to work with the majority of my close friends, friends that in some way shape or form have shaped me along the way and helped me get to where I am today.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself living here in my hometown of Toronto for the summer months and migrating south to California for the other freezing months of the year. I will have expanded Ampersand Co. into the American market and have 25-35 employees. I also hope to be travelling the world to find new, exciting brands to break into North America.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Transitioning into making Ampersand Co. a full-time gig was my biggest challenge so far. The entire time leading up to that moment when I could quit that steady pay check job for the great unknown, all I could do was hope that I had built strong enough wings to carry me when I decided to take that leap. Luckily I have a great support system of family and friends at home and a pretty smart girlfriend who prevented me from jumping the gun too soon just because I hated my job. Having all that support allowed me to prepare for when the time was just right and clearly, so far so good.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success to me is the ability to be able to live the life that you want for yourself, outside the boundaries and limitations of others. To prove to those who say you can’t that you very well can. When I was in high school I was told that being a mechanic was my best bet for a successful career because I wasn’t as ‘academically smart’ as my peers. I tried that route for a bit and I was miserable. It wasn’t until I started living the life I wanted for myself that I became truly happy and today, I literally could not be happier. Does money = happiness? Of course not. Freedom to me equals happiness. Sure, money helps, especially when it comes to freedom in a Western society, but I wouldn’t say that money alone will make you happy because it won’t.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Every day that goes by I find a more memorable moment than the last, so my most memorable moment is presently the Ampersand Co. showroom opening on Wingold in Toronto.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I didn’t make this saying up, but it’s something that definitely holds true: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So get to know as many people as possible because you never know when you’re going to meet someone who can change your life.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Copacabana on Adelaide is where you will find me. All you can eat meat! This place is great (for carnivores) whether it be to grab a bite with a group of friends, to wine and dine a client, or even for taking the lady out for a nice date.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
To be honest I don’t really like being alone unless I am on the track riding a dirt bike. Most of my ‘me’ time is spent with the people I love – rounding up friends for dinners, nights out, and movie hangouts. However, on those lazy days I am happiest spending time at home on the couch with a ton of good food, my girl, and our awesome ginger cat Tobiko.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I would have to say California. How can you not love a place where it is always beautiful out!? Also, being that my hobbies include dirt biking, BMX biking, surfing, and snowboarding, California happens to be one of the best places to do it all.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Started from the bottom (obviously).
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I don’t even want to think about the answer to this question, haha.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Yes, I have been sponsoring a child through S.O.S. Children’s Villages for about five years now. It’s really awesome to feel like you are making a difference in someone’s life.
What to you is notable?
Innovation. Being able to come up with a concept or creating something that changes the way we live each day in this life.
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