‘Wandy the Maker’ — Custom clothing line gaining lots of attention

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 13, 2020

By Susan Shinn Turner

For the Salisbury Post

When some guys turn 16, all they can think of is a new car or truck. Not Andrew Burgess. He wanted a sewing machine.

Burgess, now 20, is developing his own clothing line at his Salisbury studio. He’s attracted a national following on social media, and a recent release of 20 custom items sold out in an hour. The 10 hoodies were gone in 7 minutes.

What makes his line unique is that it’s all sourced from thrift shop items: quilts become hoodies, blankets become pullovers or floppy hats, multiple pairs of jeans become one fabulous pair. Burgess especially loves blending different textures for an up-to-the-minute patchwork effect.

Burgess got serious about sewing in September 2019, and made the leap to full-time in October. After graduation from West Rowan High School, he decided to work overseas and lived with his aunt and uncle in the Netherlands.

“I just wanted to get a way for a bit and have a change of scenery,” says Burgess, who lives with Ester and Kevin Marsh, his mom and stepdad. His dad, Will Burgess, lives in Charlotte.

He was able to get a dual citizenship as his mom is from the Netherlands.

Growing up, Burgess was an elite runner with a 4.7 GPA. He could have gone to college on an academic or athletic scholarship. By senior year, however, his interest shifted to fashion, and he decided to follow that passion.

“My friends are open-minded and supportive,” says Burgess, who goes by “Wandy the Maker” on Instagram and Tik-Tok. He has hundreds of thousands of followers and has gained attention from BuzzFeed and Good Morning America.

Wandy (pronounced Wand-y) is a nickname based on a combination of his first name, William, and his middle name, Andrew.

“Everyone around me is supportive,” he continues. “I can’t have any negative energy.”

That includes his mom. And it sounds a lot like her, too.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Marsh says. “It was a shock when he said he wasn’t going to college. I encouraged him to travel, and when he came back, he hit the ground running. He works very hard, and he puts a lot of time and effort into every piece.”

So much so that Burgess has written “drink water” on his whiteboard.

“Sometimes I go all day without drinking any water and I don’t even realize it, so that’s just a reminder,” he says.

His prices range from $125 to $175. He’s written a to-do list and a breakdown of how much money he wants to make each month and each day based on how much profit he makes per piece of clothing.

And he’s written in all-red capital letters, “YOU CAN DO IT.”

Also encouraging him is his friend C.J. Wood, who runs Wood’s Professional Cleaning. He has 98 subcontractors who clean Novant and Atrium properties from Salisbury to Charlotte.

“I’ve been friends with Wandy for a long time,” says Wood, 23. “He was always fly in the way he dressed. He had his own style. He would put an outfit together and it matched. He was very popular in high school, and his clothing line makes him a super unique person. I think he should be charging more as his name grows. He’s underpriced. Get ’em while you can!”

Nolan Palmer has been friends with Burgess since third grade, so he’s seen the evolution of Burgess’ designs.

“Recycling is the best thing you can do,” says Palmer, 20. “He’s turning stuff people don’t use into cool clothing. It’s awesome. He’s got a really good mind and it shows in his personality.”

Burgess’ studio — at least for visitors — is neat and organized. He has a stack of clear bins divided by pants materials, plaids, warm colors, earth tones, whole fabric, and random pieces. He recently purchased a Juki DDL-8700H industrial straight stitch sewing machine. Now he can easily sew denim and other thicker materials.

He’s glad to know that he’s using unused or unwanted textiles, and skirting exploitation of cheap labor.

“I create timeless pieces,” he says. “With quilts, I feel like I give them new life.”

His goals for next year include hiring a couple of sewing assistants to increase productivity while maintaining creative control. He’d eventually like to move into warehouse or office space, and perhaps partner with a larger company to upcycle their past season or defective garments.

“That could be good for the other company,” he says. “Zero waste could be a win-win.”

His favorite hobby, he says, is thrifting. He also enjoys hanging out with his friends, visiting flea marketing, long boarding, and eating.

He is 20, after all.

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