Andrew Skipper: Young, Passionate and Design Focused
At just 29 years old, Andrew Skipper’s career experience and knowledge rivals those twice his age. Interior designer, antique dealer, blogger, freelance writer, and TV host are the list of positions he can credit to his name. As I interviewed him recently, I could immediately tell he had overwhelming passion for the design and antique industries and a clear mission to make an imprint on people’s lives.
“I would like to help as many people as I possibly can live as good a life as they possibly can. That’s my mission. I want to make people’s homes a warm and welcoming place for them, whether that’s a one bedroom apartment or 15,000 square foot mansion,” he says. “I know this my purpose – to help people live a better life!”
Skipper’s enthusiasm for design and aesthetics started at a very young age. “As a small child, I would draw layouts of rooms and house plans before I even knew what that was. I would create my dream home.”
As he moved into adolescence, Skipper developed an interest in all things antique and became a dealer at 14 years old. He would spend his weekends attending auctions and estate sales with his parents.“Nobody wanted to bid against me [at the auctions] because I was a young kid. However, as I got older, they realized I was their competition. I owned a small shop in my hometown of Elkhart, Indiana and sold my merchandise in several different antique malls.”
While most teenage boys were thinking about girls and playing sports, Skipper had his future in mind. His drive and maturity as a young man prepared him for the success he enjoys in his career today. “I used the money I earned for my first car and then for college.”
Surprisingly, while attending college, Skipper decided to take distinctly different path, varying greatly from design and antiques. “I earned degree in religion and philosophy and I thought I was going to be translating ancient texts. I studied Hebrew and Greek and was sure that was going to be my vocation for a long time. Then I realized, I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life.”
Skipper returned to his much loved world of design. “After college, I got a job in visual merchandising. I was working for an interior design store with 30,000 square feet and I managed a team of people. It was an independently owned store where we built all the design displays from scratch.” From that experience, Skipper noticed that many people were asking him to help them design the interiors of their homes. “They loved my design aesthetic and wanted it replicated in their own homes. A business began to grow from word of mouth and I ended up with an array of different clients. It quickly became a full time job for me, which I currently still do today.”
As a new business owner, Skipper had very limited funds, but knew he needed to promote himself to attract a larger clientele. He took a variety jobs that eventually led him to bigger and better things, such as hosting a morning TV segment on Indiana’s WNDU TV about decorating on a budget and being a freelance writer for a regional print magazine on lifestyle topics.
Through all his experience and hard work, he was able to meet Toma Clark Haines, better known as The Antiques Diva. She runs Europe’s largest antiques touring company, offering customized, private one-on-one antiques buying tours in 11 countries to both private individuals and to the antiques and design trades. “Toma followed me on Facebook and kept a close eye on how I promoted myself and my company. She reached out to me after we met each other in Chicago and asked if I wanted to come on board to work with her.” Skipper immediately accepted and this connection initiated the next big step in his career. “Through working with Toma, I’ve had the opportunity to live part time in Berlin and travel all over the country and Europe. It all fell into place.”
Skipper’s relationship with Toma opened even more doors when he was introduced to Gail McLeod. She worked for The Antiques Diva® & Co as a U.K. Antique Diva Agent and Guide. McLeod is also one of the founders of Antiques Young Guns U.K., an organization that promotes growth, education and exposure to those in the antiques trade, 39 years old or younger. McLeod encouraged Skipper to connect with some of the members while he was in Bath for a fair.
“I met up with a group of young guns through Gail’s recommendation. I didn’t know anybody and the group welcomed me with open arms. They were fun while also professional. It was great to be with people my age that are in the same industry. We kept in touch through social media and every time I travel back to the U.K. we get together.” After Skipper told McLeod of his experience, she encouraged him to join. He became a member in May 2014.
Fast forward to today, Skipper completely supports Antiques Young Guns both in the states and abroad and credits the program for introducing him to many of his industry peers. “Networking with my fellow young guns in Europe has been really beneficial for me in the form of both professional contacts and friends. If you need something for a client or when you’re designing a room, you know where to go because every person has their own specialty. That’s especially important for me as an interior designer.” Through these relationships, Skipper has been able to obtain unique pieces, which may not be regularly seen in the U.S., for his clients.
“Exposure is another great benefit of the program. For young people, it’s hard to get publicity and Antiques Young Guns comes with a plethora of connections from seasoned dealers to international media, noted trade professionals to auction houses and expert appraisers,” he says.
With the lifetime of experiences Skipper has had in just 29 years, what’s next for this young entrepreneur? “Working internationally this past year has been both personally and professionally life changing for me. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world. I want to continue to build my brand and my message here in the U.S. as well as overseas.”
For more information on Andrew Skipper and his upcoming projects, visit his website at www.andrewskipper.com.
Visit www.AntiquesYoungGunsUSA.com for more details on the Antiques Young Guns program and how you can become a member.