Welcome to the Decades of Design Podcast!
Hi, I’m Roseanna Ansaldi, owner of Andover Collection. As a resident of Andover, MA and the clothing and gift buyer of 10 years for the previous owner (Campus Collection), when the opportunity presented itself to buy the business it seemed like a natural fit. I went ahead and purchased the business in February 2020, one month before Covid hit. Who knew? But, thanks to the generosity and support of the Andover community, I managed to make it through those tough times. I personally am grateful and happy to be a part of the community and to have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people through this endeavor. In addition to being a store owner, I also have a diverse background in apparel design which has continually evolved over the past 40 years. Through those times, I created designs for celebrities, sports figures, and other prominent individuals, and in the process, started two clothing companies. I recently documented it all in a 5-part podcast retrospect, Decades of Design. Please feel free to listen to the series in the podcasts below and hear about my path to Andover Collection.
Episode 1 – Decades of Designs
Welcome to Decades of Design, a podcast series that delves 40 plus years into my notable design career. This episode is an overview of my pre-design life, how I grew up in a close Italian family with traditions and talents that were passed down from gifted artisans, and how I incorporated all of it into my love for fashion and music. Follow me as I go from learning the delicate technique of embroidery to honing the sturdy skills of leather craft and design. You will hear my story and how I acquired my cherished inheritance that’s been a touchstone throughout my career. Listen as my journey begins from the not so graceful Boston Ballet’s renowned “Swan Lake” experience to the captivating rattle and twang of Aerosmith’s iconic “Sweet Emotion” that would start my career path onto a lifetime of amazing adventures.
Episode 2 – Decades of Designs
The 80’s: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
The Rock and Roll decade started with a dream collaboration, the result of a chance meeting with stage wear designer Francine Larnis and the opportunity to work as her leather seamstress creating pieces for Aerosmith, Joan Jett, Peter Wolf, the Scorpions and many other top rock ‘n’ roll music acts. My leather skills were put to the test creating form-fitting pants in metallic and embossed leathers decorated with creative applique’, crafting newsboy and pork pie hats in leather and suede fabrications, and engineering the infamous ornate jock strap fashioned in delicate lambskin carefully embellished with studs and stones. You will hear as time went on, how I used leather scraps to create outfits for my toddler nieces and nephews and how that was the genesis to my first official business, RA Designs, a children’s leather apparel company catering to Saks Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwartz, Spiegel Catalog, and more. I’ll explain how I built a custom clientele that included 80’s major sports figures from Boston Celtics players Dave Cowens and Dennis Johnson to NHL stars like Chicago Blackhawks Doug Wilson and how that sparked a new chapter in my career as a fledging licensee in the children’s wear market with the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball Properties. The eighties were a great time, but only for a while.
Episode 3 – Decades of Designs
The 90’s: HIP HOP
The Hip Hop era spans remnants of a crashed economy, a move into my own design studio, an unexpected personal tragedy, the start of a lifelong friendship, some major soul searching and a surprise opportunity; this decade was chock-full. It starts with great excitement and optimism from reaching a long-time goal of opening my own custom leather studio on Boston’s tony Newbury Street only to quickly take a turn that would change everything, including my desire to continue designing. My story goes on with the support of family, faith, a new friend, and everything taking its course to bring new experiences and opportunities including a stint at teaching, and a return to school to extend my education and learn new skills. Somehow, all roads lead back to design and midway through the decade, a surprise knock on my studio door leads to a new and exciting venture re-igniting my love for fashion and music. I’ll explain how that fateful knock refocused my career by teaming up with Boston rapper Antonio Ennis to create my second company Antonio Ansaldi, Inc., a clothing brand partnership focused on urban wear. While the eighties were all rock ‘n’ roll — tighter than tight costumes, the nineties brought hip hop — oversized, big and baggie styles, and a whole new world of celebrities (two and four legged) to dress. Antonio joins in on the conversation and together we recount some of our tabloid worthy events. We will also share how we designed and created leather pieces for music artists Snoop Dog and Mace, furs for Mariah Carey’s canines, unique pieces for sports figures, Mike Tyson, Kenny Anderson, Lawyer Milloy and Willie McGinnis, as well as many other exclusive items for prominent individuals. This venture brought more: a collaboration with the nineties #1 hip hop magazine — The Source, which ignited the brand to international popularity and took it from being a made-to-order custom leather company, to quickly expanding into ready-to-wear leathers, denims, tees, as well as adding wholesale options to the business. Everything was falling into place nicely to end the decade.
Episode 4 – Decades of Designs
As we enter the new millennium, I call it the Reboot, Antonio Ansaldi is now an established brand in urban wear, continuing to grow and expand. We continue the conversation here with Antonio as he details his near-death-experience that transpired into a lifestyle change for him, and an end to our collaboration with The Source magazine. Enter Hollywood — a shift from print to the big screen as Antonio Ansaldi Inc. is called to clad the villains in its first major motion picture — Shaft, with Samuel L. Jackson. Major film contracts followed to feature our designs in the movies Exit Wounds, starring Steven Seagal and DMX, Paramount Pictures Save the Last Dance and Warner Brothers biker movie Torque with Ice Cube, all boosting the brand. As growth continued, an opportunity came to sell the company, but 9/11 had other plans. The brand persisted with the custom leather studio, the opening of a retail location in Boston and an overseas manufacturer supplying the demand for wholesale. New work contracts, expansion and more clients continued, but as the decade went on, the saturation of the hip hop apparel market spurred some changes; a time to regroup, rethink, relocate, and plan for a new direction.
Episode 5 – Decades of Design
Life comes full circle and I move back to the suburbs seeking a quieter life, a refocused design business, and an urge to seek out new ways to grow. A unique prospect presents itself at a local downtown establishment, the Andover Bookstore. Unbeknownst to me, not only is it the oldest continually running independent bookstore in the USA, but it also had an apparel section! Owner John Hugo calls in on this segment to speak on how he offered me the role of managing and growing the stores annex of Phillips Academy clothing and gifts. There I was contracted to expand the existing in-store academy merchandise, improve its web presence, and develop a marketing strategy, a position that offered me a challenge to learn a new aspect of the apparel world, and an opportunity to make new connections — exactly what I needed at the time. Eventually, that experience sparked a third business for me, the Andover Collection LLC, a retail store featuring Phillips Academy and Andover clothing and gifts. Soon after purchasing that establishment in early 2020 — Covid hit a few weeks later! Meanwhile, my design business had been taking on a new phase, working with industrial designers. This transition brought an opportunity into the world of soft goods – (soft products produced from textiles) where my design work took a 360 from creating the lighthearted costumes and kitschy lingerie pieces of the 80’s to the sophisticated and precision crafted medical and military soft goods of the present day or as I like to say, “from jockstraps to Patriot missiles!” Here, once again my patternmaking, and sewing skills were challenged as well as my cherished sewing machine by creating soft good components for products in the medical, fitness, furniture, military, and other additional new fields. Lastly, an idea to create a patent pending product — not related to clothing at all — leads me to learning new aspects about a different field. It all comes together as I work, evolve, and continue designing my life.