Wei Tsay, Entrepreneur: Co-Founder Avantūr & Founder of Apologue

Wei Tsay is the founder of APOLOGUE, a brand consulting practice that counts Marc Fisher and Sigerson Morrison among clients. Wei’s experience in advertising and fashion is vast, with experiences working with Tiffany & Co., sports giant Nike, renowned skincare brand Erno Lazlo.

Outside of his expertise with branding, Wei is also co-founder of Avantur, a womenswear line based in New York.

We’ve been ogling his Instagram to get an inside look at his cityscape shots and skincare rotation. We are excited to have gotten the opportunity to learn more about Wei and think you’ll enjoy this interview!

“I was born to Taiwanese immigrants but was adopted when I was an infant. I grew up in a small, southern town in North Carolina. Imagine large fields, lots of cattle, too many BBQ restaurants for any one city, and a Taiwanese-American with a very southern accent… that was my childhood. There very few minorities in my town, so any sort of ethnic influence was minimal. I knew I had to get to a bigger city and at the time, Charlotte felt like the biggest city accessible to me, so that’s where I went to college. Charlotte was a great home but it felt too small and at the time it didn’t offer enough diversity.

I got to New York by way of Philadelphia. Although I didn’t study finance in college, I landed a finance job that planned to bring me to Philadelphia for a year and then back to Charlotte – I loved this setup because I was in a relationship at the time. We broke up right before I moved back, and even though I had already signed the lease for a new apartment in Charlotte, I chose to stay in Philly. The breakup offered a lot of freedom and liberation to focus on my career and self-exploration. I came out in Philly, and I have many great memories there, so the city will always be very special. After two years or so in Philly, I decided to focus on advertising, and I knew I’d have to move to New York to take it seriously. 

My first job in advertising was very stressful – I forgot to eat, couldn’t sleep, worked late hours. It was the typical New York intro. I had no idea what I was doing but thankfully my survival skills kicked in. I ended up working for some amazing clients – Marriott, Tiffany & Co., Rachel Roy, Nike, United Airlines, Lifetime, History, A&E, to name a few. I was happy with my job but I wanted something more – I wanted to create something. I come from a family of entrepreneurs – both my biological and my adoptive parents started their own companies. Starting my own company felt natural, and I was already familiar with many of the challenges. 

I started my first company while I was working full-time at a social media agency. Avantūr, a women’s outerwear line, was started with one of my very close friends, Gina Principato. We met while we were both living in Philly and working at the same financial firm – and we both ended up moving to New York. We started the brand with no experience and no relationships in the Garment District but somehow we made it work. Our coats and scarves are all designed and made in New York, which comes with its pros and cons. We love being a Made in NY brand but it’s very costly to source materials and to manufacture goods in New York. Our line is small batch, meaning we don’t keep a lot of inventory, and we only produce a few items each season. Since founding Avantūr, I’ve decided to become a full-time entrepreneur, so I founded my second company which helps to diversify my income.

I quit my job at a global media firm and started Apologue, a social and digital consulting practice. Some of my current clients are Marc Fisher, Easy Spirit, and Sigerson Morrison. My company focuses on developing social and digital strategy, community management, influencer campaigns, creative strategy, content distribution, etc. It’s a great time to be in the industry because brands big and small rely on social media to connect with their audiences, from awareness to advocacy. Many brands are missing a huge opportunity to connect with current and prospective fans because they only use social and digital for sales. My goal with Apologue is to help brands create a holistic strategy with social and digital so that they can create real relationships with their fans. 

A typical day for me is usually dictated by what my clients need. I start the day by making a cup of pour-over coffee, usually around 7a, and then I walk our dog – my partner and I are lucky to be the parents of an adorable Frenchie.

On my snooze button days, I’m up by 8a. I immediately jump into the day’s work, which typically warrants a few conference calls or in-person client meetings. Daily tasks include working on my client’s content calendars, strategy for upcoming campaigns, writing analytical performance reports, creative ideation, etc. I also try to go to a networking event at least once each week. My workday usually ends around 10/11p, depending on the day. Then, I like to end the evening at the gym. My favorite time at the gym is after 10p because there’s no one there and I sleep better after a good workout. I go to sleep around 1a… staying up late is a bad habit that I can’t quit.

Other than work, I’m really interested in skincare trends, specifically Korean beauty and clean/natural skincare. American retailers are really starting to pay attention and are supporting k-beauty and natural products like never before. You see big retailers like Target, CVS, Bergdorfs, and Barneys curating these brands. Consumers are responding well because they’re more knowledgeable about ingredients and want to avoid the harsh additives many American brands are known for. My skincare routine is really explorative – I do my best to educate myself about all the ingredients in a product before I buy it, and I’m constantly going from one product to the next. I’m chasing that glow! 

Over the next few years, I’ll continue to focus on Apologue – business is going well, and I know there’s a lot of opportunity in this market. I also have some new business ideas that I’ll eventually want to work on… passion projects that I’m hoping to turn into real businesses.  

As told to Garçon’s World


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