Grads Bruna Andrade and Paul Hagopian Halt Swimwear Production to Make Face Masks For Those In Need
Two years ago, Apparel Industry Management graduates Bruna Andrade (‘16) and Paul Hagopian (‘01) launched their swimwear brand, Paul and Rade, to much success. Last year, their line was featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Runway Show during Miami Swim Week, and was picked up by boutiques and hotel chains. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit, they switched gears and halted production to focus on making face masks for those in need. "Our goal is to make sure to keep those safe who need to be out there helping stop the spread of the virus, and to make sure our LA factory employees can keep their jobs and can keep feeding their families," said Bruna. We caught up with them to find out more.
Tell us about your decision to start making masks instead of focusing on swimwear: When we realized how serious and fast the virus situation was getting, we didn’t think twice about doing something to help. Because we’re so involved in the industry and have such a good relationship with our factories, we felt like we had the power to make a change. We were able to stop all apparel production and quickly switch all our focus on producing masks for those in need.
The fashion industry is responding in extraordinary ways to the pandemic and the needs in the world right now. Tell us about some of the things you’ve noticed that companies and brands are doing, and how they’re banding together in solidarity: It is so special to see so many young entrepreneurs putting their heads together and making plans to help their communities. Paul and I are lucky to have a team who is ready to get going and produce up to 10,000 masks for donation. Our goal is to make sure to keep those safe who need to be out there helping stop the spread of the virus, and to make sure our LA factory employees can keep their jobs and can keep feeding their families.
The most important thing in this moment is for us to stay together, stay strong, give back, and help each other.
Tell us your story: Paul and I met in 2015, at that time I was going to FIDM and the meaningful measuring tape tattoo on his forearm led to our first conversation, in an elevator. Fast forward on this love story, in 2018, after joining our forces and talents together, we launched our much planned swimwear brand and built our great brand, Paul and Rade. In less than a year, we had our own fashion show during Miami Swim Week, our swimsuit was featured on the Sports Illustrated Runway Show, and it was amazing to see big time models wearing our designs. Our swimsuits were also being sold at boutique stores and big hotel chains and we were absolutely thrilled. On top of all this work, we also manage the apparel manufacturing process (private label) for many worldwide brands, such as Victoria’s Secret, Planet Blue and one of our clients even made a deal on the Shark Tank TV show. We have manufacturing sources all over the world, including in LA.
Tell us why it’s important to show up for your community, your career, and yourself right now: We are so grateful that we went to FIDM and had a chance to learn from the best teachers and met the most amazing people who inspire us until this day to keep doing what we are doing. FIDM gave us knowledge and strength to be able to help, make a difference and give back to the people who are out there fighting to keep us safe.
What are you doing to stay inspired during these challenging times? We’re very lucky to have people that are out there working so hard to save so many lives. These people inspire us to never stop and keep doing our best. This quarantine time made us appreciate even more those who make our life so much easier, from the mailman to the doctors. We’re grateful and proud of everybody.
What do you love about the FIDM community? What we most love about our FIDM family is that we literally get to be a family! We are so proud to be able to represent FIDM out there and to be able to use everything that we have learned to do what we can to make a big difference.
What advice do you have for someone thinking about going to FIDM, and pursuing a career in this industry? The advice we would give to anyone, right now, is very clear. We never know what challenges this world will bring to us. It is always important to have knowledge in something, especially when it’s something you LOVE! The world proves now, more than ever, that knowledge is everything and that our hard work at FIDM was so worth it.
Keep up with Paul and Rade at paulandradeusa.com and on Instagram @paulandrade.swim.