Andrea Rene Wallace: A Leader in Strength, Style and Staying True to Yourself
Photography by Roland Capulet
This is a series on local style talent, where I will introduce you to some of the most stylish top talent in West Michigan. These creatives, professionals and entrepreneurs are at the top of their respective fields and have put in the blood, sweat and tears to get where they are today. They're dedicated, hard working and most of all, kind, good people. You can find them busting ceilings, re-inventing and re-thinking industries where another name, website or business is just another drop in the bucket, all while managing to help others along the way. They're the workers, the dreamers and the go-getters who are the best at doing what they do, and they do it in style.
When I first met Andrea at a makeup session for our Mia's photo shoot, she confidently strolled through the door and first complimented my eye makeup, then promptly thanked me for including her in our day, said it was nice to meet me, as well as had several synchronous conversations with the others in the group. As a web developer and just generally not a people person, I was immediately impressed at her ability to chat with about 4 of us all at once and actually understand what was going on. To me, that's a bit of an overwhelming situation, but this lovely lady exuded a sort of ego-less confidence that I wish I had. We all sat and chatted throughout the morning, discussing all sorts of things. I felt bad for Erick, our makeup artist, being stuck in his studio with us girls going on about things like child birth and periods. I learned that Andrea, a single mother to her son, is also an NPC bikini model competitor, professional fitness and fashion model, trainer and nutrition expert, and master hair stylist. She is also working on her NASM Personal training education. She is a very busy lady.
The Woman: Hard Working, Independent, Adventurous
Andrea is a strong woman in more ways than one. Her physical strength is evident from her slim yet ripped physique, while her mental and emotional strength shines through with every conversation you have with her. From natural childbirth to her entrepreneurial spirit and her no-bullshit attitude, it's hard not to notice that this is one tough chica. She has won 2nd and 3rd place trophies in NPC (National Physique Committee) bikini competitions all over the state of Michigan. The NPC has competitions in bodybuilding, mens and women's physique, bikini modeling, and other fitness categories. The rules are strict and the training is intense. I have another friend who competes in competitions like this, and it is intense work. Trust me when I say, you must really like fitness. The contest winners are often featured in high profile magazines and other publications and can even launch entire careers from these competitions. Like I said though, these competitions aren't easy work, and these are tough, sought-after, titles that so many aspire to have, and are competing to get.
With being only a 10 month resident of Grand Rapids, MI, Andrea is already taking the city by storm. She is not only crushing the bikini modeling competitions, but caring for a young son and keeping up a successful hair styling career, along with a slew of entrepreneurial aspirations, has got her busy busy busy.
"As a working, single mom who trains to compete, I have my fair share of tough days. Staying focused on the why I'm doing what I'm doing helps me. Making lists, meal prepping on weekends, making healthy dinners utilizing my crock pot, and keeping as organized as possible are all things I do to stay focused and organized. I don’t get much off time, but when I do, I study the pro athletes in the bodybuilding world, watch workout videos, study and read about organic nutrition, fashion, nature, animals, and photography. I travel to see family as often as I can."
With her fun and feisty grandmother as a role model, she learned the importance of independence, how to embrace her sense of adventure, and most importantly, how to treat others kindly and with class. Between raising her son, growing a successful hairstyling career, and training for Bikini competitions, her schedule is insane. She has so much going on in her life that staying on top of things is especially important.
"A typical day for me starts with waking up at 6am and getting my son up. We snuggle for a minute, light candles, say good morning to the world, and then I cook a healthy breakfast for us both. It's usually two separate meals because of my food sensitivities. We eat, I pack lunches for us both, drive him to school, and finally I get myself to work. I time my eating throughout my work day, and after picking up my son after work, I eat a pre-workout meal while I pack my gym bag. Next, I get my butt to the gym, workout, drive home, cook and eat dinner with my son. We play together before I get him ready for his bath and bedtime. He loves when we read together. Once I get him to bed, I shower, study, catch up on random things from throughout the day, clean up the house, and finally get myself to bed!"
When Andrea does get a chance to unwind, “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is next on her reading list and the Grand Canyon is her next travel destination. She has dreams of one day going to Italy, taking her son on amazing, fun, and educational adventures, writing a children’s book, and becoming financially successful enough to start a single parent help group. When she was little, one of the professions she aspired to be was a veterinarian, and even though things took a different route, she still hopes to build a no-kill animal shelter and help care for in-need animals.
The Style: "Wear What Speaks to You"
In West Michigan, there are plenty of hipsters, prepsters, and suit-wearing professional types, but Andrea truly has a style of her own. She brought not one, but two pairs of fabulous high tops to the shoot that I am in love with. If I didn't have monster sized calves, I'd probably have gone out and gotten a pair that day. I loved that she cared about my vision for the shoot, and really brought items and looks that portrayed who she was.
This hard-working mama's favorite colors are turquoise and green and has a self-described style of "moody, sporty, classy, and ever-changing." She loves shopping at local markets, health stores, and vintage boutiques as well as stores like Free People and Anthropologie for clothing. For her workout wear, she loves Better Bodies, La Bella Mafia, Puma, Nike, and Celestial Bodiez.
If I had to wear one thing for the rest of my life, it would have to be distressed denim, a well made white tee, a fitted blazer or leather jacket and amazing heels. I have this bright coral fitted blazer from Express. It’s so unique, so edgy, yet so classic! I'm currently on the hunt for the perfect chunky, white, cable-knit sweater, the perfect silver statement necklace, a hi-low tulle skirt, nude Tory Burch sandals and rose gold high tops.
...omg rose gold high tops?!?!? those would actually be AH-MAA-ZING...
When she's not bikini modeling, starting her own nutrition and style business, or making magic on people's heads, she advocating a "good, organic, skin care routine." Her beauty staples are mascara and mineral powder. While hair styling is where she got started, she realized a passion for fitness training and helping others improve their health, physique and confidence. She says, "I loved watching the transformation of the before and after in the clients! I love making people feel good about themselves, helping make them look their best!" This does not only apply to fitness, but also to styling. Helping people feel confident and secure in their own skin can be both a natural talent and a hard-earned skill. A good stylist knows that you have to tailor your advice and recommendations to meet your clients' specific goals, whether they fit your own personal style or not.
Wear what speaks to you and speaks of you, and be sure it fits you well. My Mom always told me, “never wear something you have to constantly fuss with!”
The Story: "Making a Difference"
When I asked Andrea what she was hoping to accomplish with this article, she replied, "I hope to have people see the real me, and hope to inspire others to find their own style inside and out!" I hope that I have conveyed that through the writing because she truly is an amazing woman. She's not had an easy path to where she is today, but you'd never know it from her positive attitude. Now, she isn't one of these butterflies and rainbows optimists that we hear singing in our children's nursery rhyme albums either, she is real. You never have to worry that you're getting the go-around from her, she's a blunt as they come, but also considerate of your feelings. She's inclusive and thoughtful of those around her, and within minutes of chatting with her, it's obvious that she is a deep down, kind-hearted person who really wants to make a difference in the world.
"I truly hold all the best wishes in my heart for others and their happiness. I’m far from perfect, and I’m just a real woman with passion and drive to leave a positive mark on the world! The most rewarding part of what I do is making a difference in how someone feels about themselves."
Andrea has an entrepreneurial spirit if I've ever seen one. I'd know because I have one too. Your head is filled with ideas of how to re-invent, innovate, streamline, or improve processes or business practices, and you're not only willing to put the time and effort into it, you're thrilled to do it.
"In the next five years, I hope to win first in my class at a National bikini competition and own a successful organic supplement company with a fitness clothing line as well!
In response to the question, "What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in your industry?" Andrea answers, "Make sure that what you're doing is something you love with all of your heart and are truly passionate about. Always continue educating yourself on what’s trending in the industry!" With that, I'll leave you, and all of your hopefully kept New Years Resolutions to stay healthy and fit. If you'd like to contact Andrea for training sessions or nutrition consultations, her email is Wallace.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” ~George Bernard Shaw
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