Andrea Schroder started making candles at her California farmhouse to give as a keepsake gift for friends and family who visited. What started as a small project in her kitchen has now become a luxury company.
Andrea is a lifestyle personality, designer and creator of “The Poetry of Fragrance” line of luxury candles. Each candle is crafted from pure organic coconut oil and infused with three or more scent combinations. Then, it’s hand poured and packaged with an uplifting poem written by Andrea’s grandmother, who was a well-known poet in London. Andrea says it’s these special touches and the power of fragrance to evoke emotions and create memories that make her love her job.
Be honest. Be kind. Be a contributor.
How did you discover your current job?
I was always the woman on the lookout for the perfect gift to give to my friends and clients. I ended up making a candle that I loved, and one holiday I gave out 100 of them to give as gifts. Everyone loved the candles so much, and as a result, Andrea Schroder Candles and Fragrances began to grow. Then, this past fall, my complete line of 12 scents launched in more than 150 Hallmark stores nationwide.
What makes my company’s candles different is that each one is packaged with a lovely poem written by my grandmother. The candles also are made with clean-burning, long-lasting coconut oil and are free of dyes and toxins. Each candle is proudly made in the U.S.A. My company also believes in giving back, and this year we partnered with Paul Mitchell Hair Schools in raising money for Wells of Hope in Guatemala.
How do you organize your day?
I wake up at 6 a.m. with my two girls who still live at home. (My two boys are in college.) After I take my daughter to school, I slip into my office while the house is quiet and try to get about two hours of work done. My account manager comes into the office around 10:30 a.m., and by then I have done enough work to know what our specific priorities are for the day.
I’m a big goal setter. I plan overall company goals and have them up on a board in my office. I also set yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Goal setting is extremely effective for me as it allows me to channel my energy. I am very creative by nature, but I’m also very chatty. So, if I have visual goals to look at daily, it helps me keep my eye on the ball. I also love to be as organized as possible, so I file important papers away every day. It helps keep my workspace as organized as possible.
My eight-hour workday ends at 3 p.m. when my daughters come home from school. Sometimes, if there are still tasks to complete, I go back to work before bed. But, on the weekends, I don’t even like to talk about work if I can help it. Business is the acquisition of knowledge and resources, and life is the acquisition of memories. My personal overall goal is to make sure I always balance both.
Why is giving back important to your company?
I believe that with the opportunities I have, caring for others is how I can be a positive contributor to society. It’s the reason why I have decided to grow my company. One of my candles burns for 75 hours and can light up a dark shack in a home without electricity. That means that from 7 to 9 p.m. there’s light for a month where otherwise there would be darkness.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
First and foremost, my candles are a symbol of light. To have the opportunity to share light, as well as uplifting messages, with others is so rewarding. I also set up my company to accommodate the extreme flexibility I need as a wife and mother of four. For these two reasons, my job is the perfect fit for me.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I feel personally responsible for each and every customer. If there’s an unhappy customer, for any reason, it bothers me. I make a huge effort to exceed expectations. That’s the people-please side of me, but it also is a positive for my business.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Before motherhood, my jobs were always with children. When I had my own children at a very early age that previous experience gave me more confidence. Family relations is an area of my life where I feel like the most confidant version of myself. Keeping up with the other ongoing and boring life-stuff, like mail, oil changes, groceries, etc., is the most challenging for me. Anything I can do online helps me so much – from booking airline tickets to making dinner reservations. I also love that I can order groceries from my bed at 10 p.m.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
To me, ‘making it’ is a daily, living thing. It’s a journey and not a destination. I’m ‘making it’ when a customer says one of my candles has made her feel at home while spending a year on the road. I also get that rush when I see a display of my line at a Hallmark store while on the other side of the country.
I also have ‘made it’ when my son gets an ‘A’ on an exam while away at West Point, or when a little girl funs up to my teenage daughter (who is a dance teacher) and hugs her. It’s looking at a photo of my husband and me from the day we met 24 years ago. ‘Making it’ has various definitions to me.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Be honest. Be kind. Be a contributor.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
You need to have good social skills, no ego, lots of focus and vision. I personally also rely heavily on mentors and support from others. So, another quality that is important to me is the ability to adapt, learn and grow.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
If I could give myself advice back when I was 21-years-old and with two babies on my hip, I would say, ‘Don’t compare yourself to others. There is only one you, and that is good enough.”