The thought of having to sell all your possessions to start a new project without a safety net can for the vast majority seem a daunting task. It was nonetheless what Thomas Gyvelgaard Andersen did when he back in 2014 founded the watch brand About Vintage with his partner Sebastian Skov. A leap into the unknown, but has since proved to turn out fruitful. Today the company is ready to take the next big leap.
Unpredictability and independence
A evening in the early fall we meet this Gent of the month - a confident man in his prime, who kindly greeted us welcome. Thomas Gyvelgaard Andersen - family man, bon vivant and entrepreneur. Particularly the life as an entrepreneur has played a big part of his life the last couple of years. A lifelong dream, that began to accelerate in his late 20´s.
» "The thought of waking up every day to something new, without it actually being something else" - maybe someone can follow me here, while others interpret it as contradictory gibberish, which I can easily understand. For me it makes sense. Freedom is one of the greatest privileges I have.
Despite the dream of an independent life as an entrepreneur, it has not always been certain that Thomas one day would stand with a growing and successful start-up.
After graduating as a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Southern Denmark, started Thomas as insurance consultant and salesman in Codan. A job that generally got along fine with his inner competitive spirit, where everyday life was marked by sales budgets and a true performance culture. Before that he had already had various secondary jobs as gas station attendant, telemarketer, waiter, bartender, etc.
Generally, the many jobs, independence and competitive DNA can be traced back to his childhood, where he grew up in a very liberal home, and learned the value of hard work. As an only child he certainly did not lack any support from his parents. Despite that Thomas made a virtue in earning his own money and the satisfaction was as might be expected:
» The new bike rides damn better if I bought it myself.
When passion turns into business
Over a 5-year term in the job as a commercial insurance agent, Thomas put by a substantial sum of money, but there was something besides money that kept pulling him:
» Imagine being independent, create your own, and be sincere passionate about what you do. These thoughts, coupled with some inconsistencies on the job, did that I simply had to try my luck as an independent. I therefore chose to sell my car, my apartment, my watches, my furniture and with the support of my girlfriend, family and friends, I took the best decision ever. And yes, I sold my watch, though it did hurt. ONE particular sale that still haunts me was the sale of my first Rolex. A Rolex GMT Master Pepsi, Vintage with plexsi glass and everything. The clock was in an exemplary good condition and was bought spontaneously when I fell in love with it on one of my random visits to Krogno watchmaker at Frederiksberg Allé. Worth a visit for any watch enthusiast. It hurt, and when the watch now costs 40% more than what I sold it for, it would also hurt to buy it back, laughs Thomas.
After selling almost all his possessions, he went along with his friend Sebastian Skov and took the change becoming an entrepreneur. The idea was to create a Gentleman brand where Oxford shirts and watches would be the product portfolio:
» Seb (ed. Sebastian Skov) and I got on a vacation to Mexico an idea about designing our own Oxford shirts. We wanted to do a gentleman’s brand - perhaps even a counterpart to Carlo A's thinking about tie. We were and are both big watch enthusiasts, so we thought a collection combination of shirts and watches would for sure create synergies. However, we found out quickly that our passion was watches and with the mantra - do one thing and do it well - we decided to go all-in on watches.
Expressive and visual identity
In 2014 the gentleman brand About Vintage were a reality. The idea was not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to create an expression and visual identity. Something that could make their brand standout in a time when minimalist watches and new watch start-ups was at its peak.
» We love the stylish design and has both hands on the cooking plates from the beginning each time we make new designs. We like the minimalist, but it should preferably not be too easy. We see many really good brands have great success with the quite thin dress watch where the clock face nearly consists of no more than a maximum of three hands and a few strokes. All my respect for what is created from an ultra-minimalist design, but we think the time is different now. We hope at least that it is. Our approach has been to try to fill a little more on the "canvas", both in terms of design, but also clockwork. Without compromising the clockwork our approach has probably always been designed with the focus, as well as creating a great experience for our customer. From the moment you visit our website, to when you receive our famous watch box in walnut, open the box and see the watch in "real life" the first time. We try to do as much as possible to our customers, so they feel that they get a little more than what they expect. If and when you succeed, it can never go wrong.
The success in About Vintage is also in the duo's ability to use the visual expression and identity, and then adapt it to the social medias. They especially take advantage of the possibilities which lie in Instagram, with their profile - @Aboutvintageofficial where product and identity comes together. Here, the use of so-called Brand Ambassadors has helped them to create a good and credible publicity. In addition, social media has given them valuable feedback from customers and watch enthusiasts in general, which can be used in a further product development process.
New things in the pipeline
After the focus was 100% put on watches, have the company's Quartz collection been the cornerstones of success, which later gave them a little PR coverage in Illinois, USA. A little unusual place, acknowledges Thomas, but nonetheless interesting, especially in light of the nearly 13 million who live in the state. At present they are in the process of finalizing a collection with an automatic movement, which will cost 4,000 Danish Kroners.
» The whole basic idea is to sell watches in the price level from 2,500 to 10,000, so there are many other interesting watches to find in the future as we come to produce more automatic watches, which can be labeled with Swiss Made. Anything that contributes to give recognition and legitimacy in the industry. .
Thomas is generally an enterprising businessman and entrepreneur, which is largely driven by the fact that not two days are alike. Alongside About Vintage is Thomas the owner of TGA Invest, which buy, renovate and sell apartments in Copenhagen. Here it is particularly his creative and risk-averse mind which unfold and where the process from design, working with artisans, showcasing and selling of property is something that captivates him deeply. Here he brings many of his skills in the game, and highlights the importance of knowing your strengths:
» To believe in your own abilities and skills are in my world some of the most important things I have learned. I have got to know my-self a lot better in the past 2-3 years and I certainly have 100,000 development points and distractions I should get to grips with. But in general, I do also a lot for my network, I grow it sincerely and on a friendly basis. I thrive by being social and love to be inspired by others. I often see possibilities instead of limitations, and there is often not far from thought to action. In addition, you have to have a huge passion for what you do. Competence, passion and ambition is not a bad combination.
In control of your style
As a true watch enthusiast, is fashion and style something that Thomas holds dear:
» Style signals a lot and I take great pride in it. However, it is important that I feel comfortable. As long as it's tasteful and fits into a whole.
The concept of Carlo A has given Thomas appetite for more, even though he can sometimes find it difficult to get a tie thrown around his neck.
» The basic idea about Carlo A I think that's a great idea. Several of my close friends wear a tie every day. I can easily see that if you manage to put it all nice and tastefully together, if gives you the last boost in the overall look. I myself am bad to throw a tie so I am looking forward to follow you and let me be inspired. Good initiative and good product.
SAVE 20% on Thomas' favorite Carlo A tie - the KARL SILK TIE
"KARL SILK TIE"
THE 5 SHARP
What are the ambitions for the future – where is About Vintage in 5 years?
» It is always a difficult prediction, but I know we have a good product and already a solid and continuous customer base. We grow quite significantly every month and we have the last 6 months had trouble keeping up with demand. We are starting to play with the thoughts about taking investors in, but not at any price. But if we find one or several investors, there is no doubt that we can reach really far in 5 years. Seb (my co-founder) is always the conservative type, which as such is healthy enough to our cooperation. Specifically, in 5 years, I see us being an internationally recognized watch brand as the whole industry knows and where the growth each year will be three digits. Anyways, we work hard, and we will see how far it takes us.
What is the next big project for you?
» To expand the collection so that we can present automatic watches shortly. And in addition, we work very hard to get a grip on our supply chain in regards to producing optimally.
What is your best career advice?
» I think that one must follow his passion and be 100% persistence in what he does. It is certainly easier said than done, but there is no reason to wait until tomorrow, or make excuses to themselves. Risk will always be there, but as long as it is calculated or small enough, then it's just doing whatever you think.
Which limitation can there be in creating your own career?
» If you do not do it 100% and also does not have an interest and passion for your project, then I think there is a certain probability of failure with it. I do not think it's healthy if ONLY the economic motivation is the reason for doing it.
What book is on your bedside table?
» Mostly just a remote control, says a smiling Thomas Gyvelgaard Andersen.
Blue book - Thomas Gyvelgaard Andersen
Age: 30 years old
Civil status: Girlfriend and daughter of 5 months
Education: HHX and BA in Economics from the University of Southern Denmarkl
2014-2016: Co-Founder - About Vintage
2014-2016: Owner - TGA Invest
2014-2015: Fast Network
2013-2014: Commercial Insurance - Danish Insurance and Danica Pension
2012-2013: Commercial Insurance - Topdanmark
2010-2012: Insurers - Codan Forsikring
2007-2010: Insurance Broker / Sales Trainer Digital - Codan Forsikring
2003-2004: Meeting Booker - Alm Brand
This tie Karl is a modern and sophisticated tie in a classic colors. The green color combined with navy blue lines makes it go well with a casual shirt – and even better with an elegant suit. The design is truely timeless and holds both modern and classic dimensions. The tie is woven with a discreet Carlo A logo on the front. We hope you see, feel and wear this tie with integrity and good style. We truly believe this is a must for your wardrobe this summer.