By Pat Tyson | Photos by @daboinc & @lotusvisualarts
Within less than a year in the United States, Andrea Tankovitz has already established herself as a successful fashion designer. Her vision and mission with Tankovitz Couture is to “Bring Class and Elegance Back” by setting a positive example for those in and out of the fashion industry.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Mexico, Andrea, now based in Miami, Florida, brings to her unique designs her diverse ethnicity, which is half Colombian and half Austrian. Drawing inspiration from her exotic background, she is able to mix and match the elegance and culture of each country. She says that although she loves her birthplace, she considers herself Mexican because, no matter where you are born, being Mexican is “a thing from the heart.”
“I moved to Mexico when I was eleven years old; that’s when my life took a path completely opposite from what it could have been,” she explains. “We moved there when my Mom re-married – to the person I now consider to be my dad, to whom I pretty much owe everything I am.” Andrea feels that it’s not necessarily the person who gives you life, but who raises you and teaches you everything you need to know about life. From her mother, Fabiola Real, she learned to love and serve others.
“We started helping others, even when we didn’t have much,” she says. “Mom was always a hard worker and gave me everything – and more. We didn’t live in luxury, but we definitely had everything a little girl could ask for.” It is only when your heart is at peace and full of love that you will truly share what you are given, she believes.
“I received my first sewing machine on my 14th birthday,” she relates. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a fashion designer – or even be involved in it at all, but my parents figured it would be a good gift, since I enjoyed cutting and sewing things together by hand. I always wanted to wear something special, so if it didn’t exist, or could not be found anywhere, I’d make it!”
After a time, although she was greatly interested in music, she was still unsure of what she wanted to do with her future. So, she began to study psychology, the only subject that interested her during high school. She felt it might be an interesting and safe career that would provide a secure income and fulfill her long-held desire to help others – her one passion. But, after two good years there and discussing it with her parents, she realized it was time for a change.
“Deciding I’d prefer to be up all night creating rather than studying, I chose Fashion Design, little knowing it would lead me to who and where I am now! So I changed schools, although I was a pretty bad student!” she says with a laugh. Meanwhile, she began to focus her attention on singing – another of her passions – until the final year of college. At that point her parents divorced, leaving her uncertain as to what to do. That’s when necessity kicked in. She needed to earn money somehow, so started using her designing skills to make costumes, such as wedding and graduation dresses for friends.
Word got around from mouth to mouth and, at that point, she realized that she could do something she loved for a living and turn it into a business. A lot of people doubted her during those years, which fed her need to succeed.
She moved to Miami to pursue her career on another level, introducing herself as an exclusive designer – and that’s how she was received.
Featured with an interview commercial at the Latin Billboard Awards, sponsored by Ford Automobile and shown throughout South America, she has appeared on Telemundo as the new upcoming designer. Then, an excellent opportunity arose for her to create two dresses for Telemundo’s Carmen Aub, one of which the star wore to present an award, the design inspired by the lines, color and spirit of the Ford Fusion. It was an experience Andrea says she will never forget. Later, she created the dress that Essence Atkins wore to the Golden Globes. However, her modest beginnings attest to the fact that her hard work and creativity, guided by her faith, are well deserved. But let us go back to the beginning: her inspiring storybook tale.
“God has been my manager ever since,” she affirms. “I do my work – my ‘part of the job’ – He just opens up the doors for me; one of those being the Latin Billboard Awards.” This led to her appearance on MTV as both model and designer on the same video and presented her with the opportunity to dress major artists and producers in the music industry. As a singer herself, and being named Designer of The Year, she has won their hearts and respect. All of this was an unforgettable experience for which, she says, she will be eternally grateful. But none of this is enough, she declares.
Besides her extensive involvement in the world of fashion, her altruism has led her to devote much of her life to missionary work. Andrea and her mother have their own foundation, Unidos Por Amor a Jesus, providing food, clothes and toys for needy Mayan children in Mexico. Fabiola is a Christian preacher, and Andrea says “I play around with the kids! I want to achieve anything and everything; this is just a tiny step to the beginning of the rest of my life.” She is highly proud of the Foundation.
“I don’t like to accept money from people – only clothes, food, and so forth,” she explains. “Ten percent of my company’s income goes to it, so we can finance it without having to receive money from anyone else, especially churches,” she explains. Therefore, Andrea decided she needed to be more than successful in order to do one of the things she loves most: to enable her mother to continues her calling without asking for financial help.
“I’m very far from being able to finance the foundation, even though I’ve accomplished so much – it isn’t enough. When you are a young “starving entrepreneur/artist,” she jokes, “it’s a struggle during the first years, but it’s something I have in mind and understand.” Andrea says she feels a deep gratitude toward all the people who have been part of her life – and the journey she began in Miami two years ago.
“I’ve had so much support from friends and would love to express my sincere appreciation to every single one of them, even if they are no longer part of my life,” she insists. “They contributed in so many ways; I just want to say ‘thank you.’” And now, Andrea is working on her second collection, which will shortly appear in showrooms and will be featured at Dive Miami for Miami Swim Week.
“Dive is a showcase put together by MILK Studios, so I’m really excited to be in it,” she says. Her ultimate goal is to make women feel empowered by how they look without having to reveal too much!
Andrea’s axiom is: “Make Women Look and Sexy and Sensual with Elegance and Class.”