Although discovering her passion was not an overnight process, Style on Demand owner and Houston Community College professor Andrea Bonner finally found her footing in the fashion industry after 20 years in health care.
Bonner launched Style On Demand, a fashion consultant business, in 2007 and began producing fashion shows for many nonprofits in the Houston area. “Organically, it isn't anything that I knew,” she says. “I never said, ‘You know after I work this many years in healthcare, I'm going to transition to this.’ I just felt at the time that I wanted to change, and it was something that I prayed about and asked God for direction, and things started to line up for me.”
Now, more than a decade later, she’s the chair of Consumer Arts and Sciences at HCC, teaching courses like Visual Merchandising and Fashion Advertising. Bonner says using her platform to share her knowledge and equip her students for futures in fashion has been her true calling.
“Once I started working with students, this huge light bulb went off,” she says. “This is where I want to be. I really enjoy teaching students, and I always tell them that fashion is a multi-trillion-dollar industry globally and that there is definitely opportunity out there for them to make a living in fashion. Working with students to show them what those opportunities are and how they can do well in the industry is where I found my footing and my sweet spot.”
We sat down with Bonner to discuss fashion tips, the importance of supporting local designers, and how COVID-19 will change the future of fashion.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
I would say classy and unique. I do not just like one thing. If something moves me, then I will buy it. Fashion and style are very emotional, from people buying things because of the color or garments that bring nostalgia.
Who are your style icons?
Tracee Ellis Ross and Princess Deena Aljuhani.
What is your favorite look and why?
I love dresses, although I haven't worn any in the past two months since I've been working from home. I think a dress for a woman is an instant outfit. Dresses can transcend time. I can wear a dress now that I wore in the '80s or the '90s. I also love clothes you can mix and match; you might have six pieces that turn into 16 pieces. I love a great blazer paired with jeans, a well-made t-shirt, and a nice pair of shoes like loafers.
Where do you like to shop?
I like to buy vintage clothing or shop online at vintage boutiques and look for good quality vintage clothing. I shop everywhere and anywhere. I’ll wear J. Crew, Target, or one of my favorite fashion designers, Diane Von Furstenberg. I also like to support local designers including my students who are just getting out of school. I find there's so much talent out there and people are missing out on some really good, unique clothing by only going with people that they know or stores that they know. How are these people going to make it if we don't support them?
How have you stayed inspired during the pandemic?
I like the process of getting dressed up, but that has been deflating. But as far as not being inspired, I think I have been just as inspired, if not more. I'm excited about what the future holds because we've had to go through all of this. Companies have had to reevaluate themselves, so I think going forward, we will only get better out of retailers, designers, or creatives moving forward.
How will COVID-19 affect the future of fashion?
I think this has given companies time to reevaluate how they want to become better. I think that companies are realizing that they need to be more customer-centric and more customer-focused. Yeah, we all love shopping online and getting a box from Amazon in two days, but most people that I know still like to go into a store and be a part of that atmosphere. What stores are going to have to do now is to make the customers a priority because we are driving the business right now.
What style advice would you give our readers?
Buy things that you love. If you don't love it, don't buy it just because you may be going out tomorrow. Remember quality over quantity. You should be moved by every piece of clothing in your closet, if not, I promise you will not wear it. Also do not buy shoes that won’t fit your feet, especially as women. They will look good for Instagram but you will not wear them again. Also do not buy clothes that do not fit you with the hopes you will lose the weight later. Don't be afraid of what the size says. I always tell people if you gotta buy the bigger size and it bothers you that much, cover the tag.