Andreas Addison does it all: from opening Pure Fitness, a gym in Scott’s Addition, to improving Richmond’s transportation efficiency. Addison seems to have a stake in everything going on in the 804. Richmond City? He proudly serves the First District. Local restaurants? He cuts his teeth in the dining industry. Fine arts? He’s on the Richmond Ballet’s advisory council. This six-year city councilman sat down with me recently to discuss everything from modernizing the city and dealing with major projects to his preferred suit fit and accessories.
To get started, I needed a better grip on what exactly is involved in his primary areas of public service—how he thinks, the changes he makes, and the kinds of movement he advocates for. Addison began by eschewing formalities.
“Please, call me Andreas,” he warmly introduced himself on Zoom. Interesting—he’s accessible, I thought. Not your typical politician. When he heard we would be discussing not only his career but his sense of style as well, he responded with a smile: “My grandparents told me ‘if you want to be the part, dress the part.’” Again, not what I’d expected—an elected official reminiscing on fond memories with an easy smile. I was curious to know more. What was it about Addison that made him both the people’s champion and a local style icon?
MA: What does a typical day as a city councilman look like?
AA: What’s entailed with this elected role can change from day to day. It can be anything in regards to typical scripted meetings, but it could also be a water main break. It could be a car accident or another crash in the neighborhood. There’s things that could happen all the time. A “day in the life” is never really one and the same—it is always an interesting aspect of trying to prepare for tomorrow.
MA: You’ve said before that you want to help speed up the bureaucratic process in your role as an elected official—how do you make improvements that count?
AA: You know, I think having a responsive government is all that people really want, one that’s going to see and be prepared for a need. So, if someone needs to build a deck and wanted to put plans in to that, it should be that within a couple weeks they can start building it. That’s not the case. It takes technically six to nine months for that to get approved, and people just don’t have that kind of time.
MA: What makes your kind of public service unique to you? How do you impact the community on a personal level?
AA: You know, we [city council] hear a lot of complaints. We hear a lot of the same complaints, more importantly. In that, you hear things that are missing, needed, wanted. In those conversations, what I always do is a three-step mantra. Be the first to think, but the last to speak. Before you share your perspective, make sure you’re able to identify three positive things that have been said or are a part of what’s going on before you make your own [comments]. I’m going to hear your thoughts—I’m going to hear what you’re saying. I’m also going to hear what you’re not saying. I’m going to see the system around what you’re complaining about. The issue is looking at how it works in the system, and solving it from that capacity.
MA: Anyone can see that you’re heavily involved in many different areas all around Richmond. Many of our readers are the “serial entrepreneur” types who pursue multiple business enterprises and social engagements, and I have to ask—how do you leverage your schedule and strengths to make sure everything gets addressed?
AA: That’s probably one of the hardest parts of being as active and involved as I’ve become, and I think it’s something you learn along the way. I really feel that I do some of my best work—in terms of strategizing, prioritizing, organizing—when I’m not in [a] meeting, when I’m not trying to work, when I’m out doing something like a workout. I just opened a gym in Scott’s Addition, so of course I added something else to my already-busy plate. But what I think is important is [that] I’ve also surrounded myself with people that can support that operation. Identifying what you’re good at versus what you’re best at is a key aspect of knowing how to move forward.
The first half of our discussion left me with copious mental notes, from business thoughts to new ways to make the most of a busy schedule. Proceeding into the style portion of our interview, I was curious to see how Addison’s systems-oriented mind takes on the world of fashion.
MA: How would you describe your own sense of style, both professional and personal?
AA: You dress for yourself in some instances, but you also dress for others. There’s a big background story about my fashion sense because I grew up in a low-income household. I didn’t really have a lot of nice clothes. I went to the thrift store growing up. I got hand-me-downs, et cetera. My style really only happened when I was able to provide my own funding for my fashion ideas when I had a job. As a fourteen-, fifteen-, sixteen-year-old, having some income and being able to buy my first pair [of shoes]—these weren’t shoes that were given to me—I wanted these shoes and I bought them. And all of a sudden what I started realizing was, “I need to make these last as long as possible.” So whatever I bought had to be intentional. And, I took care of it as long as I could.
As I jotted down some more notes, I started to get an idea of how Addison’s process worked. Minimalist, yet not bare; purposeful, and still fun. Everything in his closet has multiple functions and combination possibilities. Addison continues:
AA: I don’t like fashion trends and fads too much. I do have some of those I like, but that’s not usually what you’ll find in my closet. You’ll find some good classic styles. I like bold colors here and there. There are two fashion things I’ve grown fond of over the last twenty years. I do love a good Hugo Boss suit. I’ve [also] been one to always have a pocket square, and it’s because men only get so many opportunities to have a detail that stands out. I will say it has its challenges because I am slightly colorblind—and so with that I have a hard time differentiating blues and purples. I’ve had to really focus on understanding and remembering what those different colors are, because the last thing you want to do is wear the wrong combination.
MA: How do you build an outfit from the start? What is your process?
AA: I list the suits that I need. Then I’ll plan the shoes and the belt to match. And then, I’ll focus on what socks I have to match as well because that’s an important connection detail that sometimes people overlook.
MA: So, if someone were to come to you for appearance advice, what advice would you give?
AA: The advice I would give anybody is [to] get inspiration from other people, but don’t copy. Their body type, their style, their access to people to help them make that style work is not one and the same. Finding your fit is also important. Know how to, maybe, buy a size up to then have a good tailor do the details to make it fit better.
Addison’s thoughtful, notice-everything demeanor clearly permeates both his professional life and his personal style. Catching a glimpse at what drives him and how he applies this philosophy in so many ways, I found him to be a true Renaissance man: constantly improving, pushing boundaries to innovate for the people’s good, and dressing impeccably in the meantime.
Oh, and if you’re around Scott’s Addition anytime soon, drop into Addison’s latest endeavor, Pure Fitness, for the HIIT workouts and personal training your body’s been craving!
Visit Pure Fitness RVA, 2921 W Moore St, Richmond, VA 23230