24 year-old Beau Wollens is the cofounder of Flandana, a product he launched with his sister, Haley Wollens. Originally inspired by a graffiti artist who needed to keep warm while working in the winter, the Flandana is a multi-function accessory that’s been lighting up Instagram feeds—including Rihanna’s—since it hit the market last month. We talked to Beau about how the company got started, the ups and downs of launching a product and what the future holds. Here’s what he had to say:
theFashionSpot: What is the Flandana?
Beau Wollens: It’s a bandana lined with Sherpa-fleece. The bandana is 100% cotton and twice the traditional size, so it’s easy to tie around your head and keeps your ears, nose and face warm.
tFS: Who came up with the idea?
BW: My older sister came up with it. Her boyfriend was a graffiti artist and he’d use a bandana to cover his face from the fumes when he worked with spray paints. She wanted to make him something that could keep him warm, so she sewed him one. People started asking her for them.
tFS: How did you get involved?
BW: I knew it was a great idea and that I wanted to bring it to market. But I was in college and I didn’t have the resources, the time or the industry contacts to make it happen until I graduated.
tFS: Did you have prior experience working in fashion or accessories?
BW: I was an avid sneaker collector and retailer when I was a kid and when I was 14, I started working for a menswear company called Nom de Guerre in Soho, because they also sold a lot of the sneakers I was into. I started as an intern and I was able to see the ins and outs of the business—I think the guys that worked there thought my fascination with it at such a young age was kind of funny.
In college, I studied marketing and entrepreneurship, and I started a traveling pop-up shop called C’est Beau. The first was for a month on Delancey Street in Manhattan and we got written up in The New York Times. It was a success, so much so that I was able to open another one in Venice Beach for two months. Currently, I’m the head of operations for Hood By Air, a menswear designer label.
tFS: What was the most difficult part of the design process?
BW: Coming up with the Heritage design, which was our interpretation of the paisley print. We went through lots of drafts. We wanted it to be perfect—something that would define us, and that we could use again in the future.
tFS: How has the response been to the launch?
BW: Sales have been strong. Rihanna posted a picture of herself wearing one on Instagram, a week after our launch. To be honest, I’m not really sure how she ended up with it; we didn’t give one to her directly. Theophilus London got one too, and Action Bronson.
tFS: How did you decide to market it?
BW: It was mostly word of mouth. We got it out to a lot of friends and family that we have in NYC, sent it out to a couple of fashion editorials and pushed really hard on Facebook and Instagram. I think because it’s a funky, functional product with an unconventional name that sticks, we haven’t had to push it on people too hard. Once you try it on, it’s so warm that it speaks for itself.
tFS: What’s in store for the future?
BW: Like a skateboard deck, the product is a great canvas for art collaboration. We’ve got some cool stuff on the way—collaborations with fashion companies and artists. I can’t really go into more detail on that, but it’s exciting.
tFS: What has your happiest moment been through all of this?
BW: Seeing people wear it on Instagram and enjoy it to a degree that they promote it without us asking.