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Crafting Light & Advocacy w/ Founder of Out of Darkness Candle Co, Andrea McGrath



Krystal J [00:01:06]:

Today we have the incredible Andrea McGrath. She is the founder of Out of Darkness Candle Co. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and a fellow mompreneur. I love having my fellow mompreneurs on our show. So first and foremost, Andrea, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm so excited to dive into your story, but thank you for being here.


Andrea M [00:01:30]:

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited.


Krystal J [00:01:34]:

Absolutely. I am so excited to figure out all the ins and outs of your story and how it brought you here today. So why don't you go ahead and just take us back, give us a little bit of background into your story and how that led you to your candle company and all the fun things that you're doing today.


Andrea M [00:01:52]:

Sure. So basically, I started making candles as a hobby because I started reading about all the nasty stuff and the chemicals that were in a lot of the store-bought ones. So I wanted something a little bit cleaner for my home, and it was kind of like a fun project as well. I was a stay-at-home mom for a very long time, so I feel like when that happens, my kids are a little bit older now. My daughter's going to be 16 and my son's 13. And so I started this maybe about three years ago and just making it, I feel like as a mom, and especially as a stay-at-home mom I kind of was, like, losing little bits of myself. You giving your all to your kids all the time, and not that there's anything wrong with that. I love that.


Andrea M [00:02:41]:

But as you're going along and as my kids were getting older, I was kind of also realizing, like, oh, okay, who am I? Where am I? What's going on? So I kind of took this as a way to not only I love candles and I burn them all the time, so not only to make more of, like, a clean atmosphere in my home, but also it's just for something for me, something for me to do, something just for myself and a little, like, a hobby. So that was going on. And what brought me to the business side of it is my daughter suffers with her mental health, and she has for, I want to say honestly, she came out anxious. So it's been like a really long road, but she had a breakdown, basically. And it was just extremely, extremely hard. Just as a caregiver, as a mom, as just watching your child just suffer so terribly, and as I was doing all the work, trying to make appointments and trying to find providers and how do I make her better and doing all kinds of research and all the things, I was kind of getting myself into this really deep hole and, like, a really dark place because it's not easy. It's not an easy task.


Andrea M [00:04:19]:

And I was just, like. I just kept going deeper and deeper as she was going deeper and deeper, and it was just like this storm. And one day, I finally realized, at the end of every really hard day, we would sit down as a family and I'd light a candle. And, I mean, it may sound silly to some, but my stress, it just literally made me Calmer. I'd watched the flame and the scents that we were choosing. Very calming, very relaxing, and it just put me at ease, and it put my family at ease as well. And one day, I was just like, you know what? Let's take this hobby and make it into a business and bring this to the world and use it as also a platform for mental health awareness. And I think that the whole point of the flame and then the name of my company, which is out of darkness, to not only literally light you out of darkness, but also to tell you there is a way out of darkness, and we're here. There are people here.


Andrea M [00:05:27]:

We will listen. We're here for you, whatever that may be like, however that may look. So I knew, like I said, that I kind of wanted to take this that's helped me and my family so much and bring it to other people and make it kind of like a flicker of hope and love. And with that on my instagram page and on my website a lot, I will advocate for mental health. I give resources, and my dms are always open. I've met some amazing people and really built this fantastic community around this, and I also knew that I wanted to give back. So a percentage of all of our profits go to mental health organizations. So that's how I started, and that's where I am now.


Krystal J [00:06:20]:

I love the play on words. It feels so light and fun and playful and whimsical. Right. But it really has such a profound meaning behind it all, which is incredible. So when you had that kind of epiphany moment, like you were in your own kind of dark spot and you lit that candle and you had that feeling of all of a sudden calm after lighting that candle, were you and your daughter kind of sharing that sentiment? I know you said family, but we talking about your daughter also kind of dealing with some mental health issues. So how was your daughter feeling through that whole process? Did you kind of have that discussion about how it was making both of you feel?


Andrea M [00:07:04]:

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I think there was, like, one night where we really just kind of looked at each other and we just smiled, and it was just like, okay. And I was like, you good? And she was like, yeah, I feel all right. And then when I was planning on starting, I did speak to her about it as well, because I feel like I never want to take something that's so personal and put it out. And even though it was my journey as well, it really is my daughter's journey, I have a different one. So I really did speak to her about it and just say what I wanted to do and the whole thing. And she was completely on board, and she was like, absolutely. And she's like, you know, that it helped us so try to help other people as well.


Krystal J [00:07:58]:

That's so special that bonds that you have with your daughter. And I respect you tremendously for having that conversation with her first because you are absolutely right for you to be able to come here and share that story that is something so personal to her just as much as it is personal to you. But I really love that you guys are on this journey together. I have two girls myself and a little boy on the way.


Andrea M [00:08:24]:

Congratulations.


Krystal J [00:08:26]:

Thank you. Well, he actually might be here by the time the episode goes live. Who knows? But I'm excited to see, of course, where they're possibly when they're a little bit older, but I love seeing it in mother daughter relationships now with the women that I speak with. So is she still playing a pretty heavy role in this candle business? Does she work alongside you?


Andrea M [00:08:52]:

She does. She's a junior in high school now, so she's a little bit busier. But what she does do is when it's time to create a candle, she will sit down with me and we will test scents together, different mixes, different stuff like that, because I want to make sure that it feels good for her as well, because this was born basically from something that because of her. So she will sit with me and we'll go through, she'll make a list, and she also helps me with some not so fun stuff, like inventory and stuff like that.


Krystal J [00:09:30]:

But I feel like the whole process with the business and making the candles and selling the candles, marketing the candles, all of that is really contributing to the long term mental health effects. Right. It's no longer just sitting there and enjoying the candle. It's the entire process.


Andrea M [00:09:48]:

Absolutely. And I think that it's something when obviously in a small business, there are times that it just feels like maybe I should walk away. But this is so personal to us, and we feel so strongly about it. And because my daughter is so involved in it, that's really what keeps pushing me forward. I think that there's so many times, all of us in any stage of life maybe, where we're like, oh, you know what? I don't know. Maybe this isn't like you question yourself, your path, what you're doing and all the things, and then when we are moms, you immediately go to your kids. I think, like, okay, what am I showing to them? What do I want to leave to them? What do I want to teach them? And I think even just moving forward little by little, it's teaching them so much.


Krystal J [00:10:40]:

Oh, my gosh, I could not agree more. Everything. Yes. I think it's one thing to be able to tell your children, follow your dreams, dream big, do all the things, but then you can actually be there as this living role model, this first hand role model for them. And you're like, it's not just do as I say, but it's also do as I do. Like, I'm out here doing it. That's so incredibly impactful, and that really resonates even deeper within them. Like, yes, my mom didn't just tell me to do it.


Krystal J [00:11:17]:

This is what she's doing. And I get to witness it on a daily basis, and I get to witness her, not only her business grow, but her as a woman and as my mother grow, which I think is so beautiful.


Andrea M [00:11:29]:

Yeah, I absolutely agree. And what I do also is I don't only share the positives. I will talk to my children. And when there's a low day or when something catastrophic or you feel like something catastrophic is happening. So, yeah, there are setbacks. But if this is something that you're so passionate about, you got to keep going. It's going to be hard, but just keep pushing forward. You'll get there.


Krystal J [00:11:57]:

And I love that you share both the ups and the downs with them.


Krystal J [00:12:49]:

So I am curious, are you kind of the same way in the way that you show up in social media? Are you pretty transparent with how your business is running and sharing all those highs and lows? Because we know social media can often be the highlight reel and only the highlight reel, right? So what is your stance on that from a business perspective and how you show up on social media?


Andrea M [00:13:19]:

Honestly, I try to show up as authentically as I can, just like, this is who I am. And I did a story, actually, yesterday. I have the shortest attention span in the world, and I'm, like, doing a story and my puppy was doing something, and I'm like, oh, my puppy. Oh, you know what? And I'm just like, all over the place because that's who I am. So that's definitely how I show up. But even over the summer, I was really burnt out and I was like, I need to take a break. And I went on, and that's exactly what I said. And I was just like, I preach mental health.


Andrea M [00:13:57]:

I preach self-care. I preach all the things. And now I'm doing it. I need to step back and I need to take this time and I'll be back, but I need to get my head together. So I definitely do a lot of that. And like I said, I honestly try to show up as authentically as possible because, yes, you're right. You just see perfection and then you're like, oh, my gosh, what's happening?


Krystal J [00:14:26]:

But, yeah, again, it's bringing that practice what you preach into your routine.


Andrea M [00:14:31]:

Absolutely.


Krystal J [00:14:31]:

Especially if that's your brand's mission and vision, to bring mental health awareness and self-care to the forefront of what you do. And you're visibly stressed on stories every day. Obviously, there's a little bit of a conflict there. I'm glad you take that time for yourself and that you do show up authentically because I feel the same way. I think it is so important to show that side of business. We are just all like regular humans.


Krystal J [00:15:09]:

We are not dressed to the nines all day every day, especially with a lot of us working from home. Right? We don't have these fancy storefronts, dressing up in our boss suits, running our businesses. We're just doing everything behind the scenes in the comfort of our own homes and pajamas and with the stress of it all. And it's so important to be able to share that. And I think that really helps build your community as well. Yeah, I kind of want to shift into that, especially with how profound of a mission that you have. And you knew launching your business like, this is what I'm trying to do. This is my mission.


Krystal J [00:15:44]:

This is the value that I want to bring to the brand and bring to our audience. So did you have any difficulty kind of communicating that with your audience? And how has your strategy kind of shifted? When did you launch?


Andrea M [00:16:01]:

2019.


Krystal J [00:16:02]:

2019. Okay. So it's been a few years. So communicating your mission with your audience, how has it shifted from launch to now? What are all the things that you're doing to pull people in and bring them along on this mission with you?


Andrea M [00:16:16]:

So I would say that first, when I first started, I was a little bit more closed off. And like I had said earlier, in the beginning, I was really having a hard time telling my story or trying to reach people because I didn't want to just flat out tell my daughter's story. And I was really having a hard time trying to tell my story as a caregiver. And really, I felt like it was just such a delicate thing in the beginning. So I really had a hard time with that and I feel like because of that, my growth was a little bit slower and I was just trying to reach people by posting about mental health and quotes and stuff like that. But then when I really started opening up and just sharing so much about my life and myself and everything that I was going through, I mean, the community is just amazing and people were sharing it. And this community that we've built, and I say we together because it's almost like a little support group that we've formed. And I honestly consider these people my friends, and they could come to me and I know that I could go to them if we ever had any issues that we needed to talk about, which we have done in the past as well.


Andrea M [00:17:51]:

So I think that was a big change for me on social media and just how I presented myself and stuff.


Krystal J [00:18:03]:

Yeah, I love it when people mention that because that's the same as my story, right? It's kind of breaking down that barrier of this is how I think that I should be presenting myself and then finally getting to the point where this is who I am and this is what I'm going to present.


Andrea M [00:18:23]:

Absolutely.


Krystal J [00:18:24]:

And that's when you are finally allowing people to see you, the real person behind this brand, and actually connect with you. Because quotes, those are a great thing. Those are great to have on content, in your content on repeat. But the real value is when you're bringing those personal pieces of your story and you're becoming so relevant to someone else and you're forming those genuine connections, which is something that I am so passionate about as well. And like you said, it's the support group, right?


Andrea M [00:18:56]:

Yeah.


Krystal J [00:18:56]:

It no longer feels like this lonely experience where you're dealing with all of these things, especially with something as big as mental health, where you do feel like you're alone. It's not even just the entrepreneurship journey. It's like in your own head, dealing with whatever it is that you're dealing with. But then when you recognize that there's so many other people out there and sharing their stories with you and you feel like you can communicate so vulnerably with them, that's incredible. That impact alone, just being able to be that person for someone else, I think is so special and something that you should be so proud of.


Andrea M [00:19:35]:

Thank you. Thank you so much.


Krystal J [00:19:37]:

So what have been, like, your biggest obstacles in these past few years of running your business?


Andrea M [00:19:46]:

I'm going to say my biggest obstacle is always myself. Totally get impostor syndrome. Totally hold myself back a lot. I was a stay-at-home mom. I actually have my bachelor's in psychology, but I was a stay-at-home mom since my daughter was born, basically. So she's going to be 16. So that always creeps back into my head, like, who are you? You're a stay-at-home mom. What authority do you have to go out and to make this business and to continue on and to do all these things? And I just kind of, like, there's so many times that I hold myself back.


Andrea M [00:20:31]:

And then even with social media, like you were saying earlier, you see so many different things and it's so much noise, and you're just like, oh, I can't be this, or I'm not here yet, or I'm not. And all that comparison. So I'm 100%, hands down my biggest obstacle is definitely myself.


Krystal J [00:20:52]:

So when you do have those moments and those impostor syndrome thoughts do start to creep in, what is your response to those thoughts? Like, what is your way of overcoming it that you found the most effective?


Andrea M [00:21:07]:

Honestly, I just go back to my why I'm doing it. Even if I reach one person, even if I reach two people, my why is to try to make a difference in somebody's life. And if I could do that, I'm happy. And I have to just keep reminding myself of that. So definitely, anytime I am my own obstacle, I will go back to my why, why I started, why I'm continuing, and why I do this, which is obviously for mental health awareness, to try to reduce the stigma and then for my children.


Krystal J [00:21:42]:

It's so funny because as moms, we're hardwired to do that for our children. Automatically, if they ever have any negative thought about themselves, we're, like, on it and we talk them through it. You are amazing. You are a powerhouse. You can do all the things. But then for some reason, we have difficulty doing it for ourselves, right?


Andrea M [00:22:02]:

Yes.


Krystal J [00:22:04]:

But that is such a key practice to be able to reframe your perspective. And one of the things that I like to do when it comes to imposter syndrome is reframe the question. Like, instead of who are you to be out here doing this, I ask myself, who are you to not be sharing this with the world? Like, to be able to make that decision, to keep this from everyone that needs it.


Andrea M [00:22:26]:

I love that.


Krystal J [00:22:28]:

Right? Yeah. Because it's like you don't get to decide what benefit from.


Andrea M [00:22:35]:

I love it. I love that.


Krystal J [00:22:38]:

That's my little workaround.


Andrea M [00:22:41]:

I'm going to steal that from you.


Krystal J [00:22:44]:

Absolutely. Please do. So candles, the word that's often thrown out there is it's a very saturated industry. Right. A lot of makers, there's a lot of candle makers out there. So has that at all kind of hindered you in any way, whether it's just mentally and thought of pursuing your business, expanding your business, and what are your ways of really pushing yourself out to the public and really getting your brand name out there?


Andrea M [00:23:15]:

Yeah, I mean, absolutely. And I say all the time to, I'm like, it's literally everybody and their mother is a candle maker. Like now. Literally. I just got an email from, I don't know if you know Emma Chamberlain. She has the coffee company. I just got an email from her because my daughter loves that stuff and she's selling candles now. I'm like, are you kidding me? So, yes, it's completely oversaturated, and it does mess with my mind a lot because I'm like, oh, my gosh, there's just so many candles.


Andrea M [00:23:48]:

How do you stand out and how do you get ahead when there's completely oversaturated market for it? And what I tell myself with that is that my candles and my company is mission based. And that's really how I'm getting out there. And that's how I'm marketing and that's how I'm getting ahead. Because, yes, obviously it's a business. Obviously I want to make money, and obviously I want to succeed. But at the core of it, it's a mission. And the mission is to bring light and love to the world. And I think that's kind of what keeps me grounded in that, that it's not just another candle.


Andrea M [00:24:36]:

It has a meaning, and they're special. And the candles themselves, I really try to match scents with special, meaningful candles. We have a whole affirmation line. So it's not just like lavender. Everything's kind of like, I really try my hardest. And like I said earlier, my daughter helps me with it just to try to make it meaningful, try to make it more than just a candle. So with the affirmation line and the affirmation line comes with affirmation cards. And then we created this QR code that is actually meditation music.


Andrea M [00:25:17]:

So it's like a whole experience. So you just unplug, because that's what I feel like candles do. They really just help you? They can help you just unplug and relax and just recenter yourself. So that's what I try to do with my candles.


Krystal J [00:25:36]:

I love that so much. I'm itching to buy one now because it's like this whole experience that you're providing. It's not just a candle that you light and then walk away from, right. This affirmation that you can repeat to yourself. And then I love the QR code with the meditation music. I have never heard that. I think that's so unique. And I love that you're doing that.


Krystal J [00:25:58]:

And like you said, it really is going back to your why, right? And being so committed to your mission, and you're providing all of that added value to your candles, which is really what's differentiating you. You also mentioned that you're offering, I think, on your social media, like other resources. Right. You're not just posting about your candles, right. You have that as well, that you can share with people that anyone that you're meeting or coming across. And it's really this whole wealth of information.


Krystal J [00:26:29]:

What kind of resources do you normally share?


Andrea M [00:26:33]:

I would usually try to share, like, breathing techniques. And I did a whole month on, it was mental health awareness month, and it was basically a whole month on doing one thing for you, only you. I chose walking because I love walking and it really clears my mind. And I would post every day of me walking and encourage others to do the same and with a hashtag. And it was fun to see what other people were doing. Some people worked on their sleep habits because they said that that would improve their mental health. And so we do a lot of that. We do a lot of journaling and journal prompts. So there's a lot of that kind of side to it as well.


Krystal J [00:27:19]:

Yeah. And I feel like that gives you so much opportunity to really put yourself in different places. Right. To increase your brand visibility and not just in a vendor pop up. These are my candles. Buy them from me way, but in a way to recreate that experience in person, right. Where you can. I'm so big on brainstorming and collaborations. Like, my mind is going crazy for you right now, but I just feel like because you are so committed to that vision and because you are so committed to adding all of this value elsewhere and stacking these resources and sharing these techniques and different little nuggets of knowledge, that there is so many ways that you can continue to grow and keep putting yourself out there, and you're really kind of, what is the word that I'm thinking of? You're not putting all of your eggs in one basket, right? So the opposite of that, whatever the word is, this pregnancy brain I know is working, but that is incredible.


Krystal J [00:28:25]:

So what tips do you have for other women that are starting out or are kind of at a place where they're struggling? Maybe they haven't broken down that barrier yet to really be comfortable putting themselves out there as authentically as you have now found yourself, what tips can you share?


Andrea M [00:28:46]:

My first piece of advice would be to just do it. Don't wait till it's perfect. Don't wait till you feel like you're ready. I feel like if I waited for all those things, I would have never, ever done it, because, and I know that it's like a scary thing to take that step and to put yourself out there authentically. And also because you always hear there's so many different, like I said earlier, so much noise on social media about what you're supposed to be doing as a small business and how you're supposed to be acting and what you're supposed to be posting. And I'll be honest, when I did break free from that, and I said, you know what? I just want to do this. This is what I'm doing. My reach got so much higher because I was just being myself.


Andrea M [00:29:33]:

And I know that that's scary for a lot of us, too. Just, I think majority of us, if not all of us, have a mask on at pretty much sometimes in our lives. So I think that my advice would be, just go for it. Tell your story. Be yourself. And telling my story, it gained me so many amazing people in my life that I would have never, ever met. I would have never had contact with. And, I mean, they've made my life so much better.


Andrea M [00:30:06]:

And these are people that I've never met in person. These are just people online. So I would definitely say just go for it. Just take that first leap. Take that first step. And then I think once you do that, it just gets easier and easier and easier to just be who I was yesterday and just, like, in 15 different places.


Krystal J [00:30:30]:

I absolutely agree. It's so enlightening, right? It feels like a literal burden is off your shoulder when you're like, you know what effort. This is who I am through what all these gurus are telling me to do on social media. Like, this is what I want to do. This is what feels good to me. This is what feels right for my mission.


Andrea M [00:30:50]:

Yes.


Krystal J [00:30:51]:

You have seen firsthand the amazing ripple effects that can come from making that shift.


Andrea M [00:30:58]:

Yes, absolutely.


Krystal J [00:31:00]:

So what is it looking like for you in the future, with you and your brand? Are there any big goals out there that you can share with us? If anything is tight lipped, you don't have to share, but if you are able to share anything, what is the future looking like for you and your candle company?


Andrea M [00:31:18]:

Honestly, I'm looking into in 2024 doing a lot more personalized candles because I just love that idea since it is so mission based and since it is to spread this caring and this light and this love, really making it more personalized for the consumer so they could put their own touches on these candles, which I think that I would love because I'm doing it right now and it's certain scents that speak to me. But I feel like in the future and in 2024, I definitely want to open it up to try to make it more where the consumer could kind of maybe mix and match and meld things together and kind of make something their own that's going to speak to them.


Krystal J [00:32:09]:

I love that. And it brings back that human factor again, too, right? Where it's not just so like business to consumer. Like, this is how we're connecting and you're getting to know all of your clients and customers on a real personal basis, which is so beautiful. Before I forget, again, I remember the word diversifying. Okay. I wanted to throw it out there for anyone that was still trying to figure it out.


Andrea M [00:32:33]:

You're like, I do know the word.


Krystal J [00:32:35]:

Diversifying - because there are so many different paths that you can take. Your business that is very diversified and you have so much opportunity for growth there that, I mean, obviously you're pursuing so many different things, which I think is beautiful. So before we wrap up, where can our audience find you, connect with you, and get a hold of these fabulous candles that you're creating?


Andrea M [00:33:03]:

Okay. So you guys could find me on instagram. My handle is at @outofdarknesscandle_co, and my website is outofdarknesscandle.com.


Krystal J [00:33:16]:

Perfect. And as always, those links will be in the show notes. You have been amazing, Andrea. I feel your energy, and I'm so glad that you obviously do not seem like you're in that dark place anymore because you seem so light, so forward thinking and excited about everything that you're doing, which I love to see as a fellow mompreneur. And the fact that you are making that difference for other people and also being that critical role model for your daughter and for your son, I think is amazing. So thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing your story.


Andrea M [00:33:54]:

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I mean, this was great. I loved, love speaking to you, and I'm just so grateful.

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