I met her a few years ago over a webinar I was giving on Brand Story Telling. It was clear we had made some sort of connection, as we followed up the webinar with a phone call of a more personal nature, which somehow led to a photo shoot together for her brand.
It all happened relatively fast after that, we had dinner in Zurich, took a trip to Paris for a food styling workshop and found out we have many things in common: both mumpreneurs, routinely holding down two jobs, namely running a family and a business, both Eastern European, both curious by nature and quite rebellious, both loving our work-life blend; thriving on adrenalin by trying to make it all happen, both foodies to some extent.
It’s been a year now and I have hardly spoken to her, but we exchange text messages and irregular phone calls. It is not easy to nurture friendship when hustle is the name of the game, but I know Andrea is my tribe and if I need help I can call her. Sometimes you learn not to ask for more.
There are many things I admire about her. She is really smart and determined! She is highly productive and can function on very little sleep. She is a restless thinker. She has an incrediblyexperienced and analytical mind that can teach you a lot. Read my interview with her below and I am sure you too will enjoy all the precious and meaningful insights she shares on entrepreneurship, parenthood and dealing with bad days.
Tsitaliya: Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
Andreea: Hi, I am Andreea, mother, and founder of Top the Cake. I love to read, to bake and take photos, to help other women to make their dreams come true, and last but not least, to spend lots of time together with my daughter.
Tsitaliya: Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Andreea: I am a restless person who needs new challenges. Working in international corporations sometimes was not giving me all the rewards I was searching. I was reading a lot of business and entrepreneurship books, and soon I realized the rewards and challenges I was looking for, might not come from the corporate life, but outside of it. So I started to explore more this opportunity, and when my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease and had to follow a rigorous gluten-free diet, I decided it is time to make my dreams come true. This is how Top the Cake was born, a Cake Boutique and food blog dedicated to healthy baking and home rituals.
Curious by nature and an avid adventurer, baking gave me a sense of freedom, exploration and adventure. At Top the Cake I like to revive the lost art of making delicious homemade cakes from scratch with natural, organic, fresh and locally grown ingredients. By spending time with my daughter in the kitchen, through baking, we find a more profound level to connect without much talking, but just doing things together. And we both love it!
Tsitaliya: What changed in your life when you became your boss?
Andreea: Everything changed and most important I have changed a lot. I’ve become more responsible and more careful with how I spend my time, I’ve learned (many times) that I cannot do things by myself, and sometimes I need the help of others.
As a perfectionist by nature, delegating was hard for me. Even when I can do things better, sometimes I have to let it go and make others do those things for me, so I can focus on other more critical things.
Now I have more time to spend with my family, which is excellent as I was missing it in the last couple of years.
Tsitaliya: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as entrepreneur till now and how did you deal with it?
Andreea: Time & focus. After starting Top the Cake I was challenged to focus in one direction only, as my mind is always full with new ideas. So I have to decide what’s more important and in what direction I want to drive my business.
Tsitaliya: How do you define success?
Andreea: This is a difficult question…hmmm…success is different for each of us. I mean what can be a significant achievement for me can be a minimal success for someone else, and vice versa. I try not to compare myself with others, instead to compare myself with who I was yesterday, or a few weeks ago, and how I developed and grew, where I made mistakes and how I can avoid them in the future.
Small or significant, success must be celebrated. In this way, you get a sense of reward for your actions and keep track of your little steps towards the bigger goal.
Tsitaliya: Besides running your own business you also run a family, how do you make that work for you?
Andreea: I guess it is much harder to run a family, rather than a business. In a business everything is new, you run the show, and you start from scratch and build up, while in your family already has some expectations from you, they know you, they understand how you deal or not with pressure. In my family, we are all partners, with roles and responsibilities, which might not always work, but are useful to set up our expectations.
Tsitaliya: What’s the hardest part about being a mumpreneur?
Andreea: Giving up me-time to deal with family and business. No matter what I do with my family or for my business, I try to always leave some time for just being myself; to enjoy reading a book while having a cup of tea, to watch a movie in the evening with my friends, or just to sleep longer one day. I think about these as a luxury now, but I still do them most of the time, but maybe not as much as I wish.
Tsitaliya: How do you think motherhood influences you as a business woman?
Andreea: Being a mother gave me a different perspective on my career, on the way I focus myself and my interests, and I see that doing the same with my business. My business is like another child in our family that needs time, care and attention, but without forgetting the other existing members of the family, so is about finding a balance. I tend to be a micromanager sometimes, which I don’t like that much. I try not b be very controlling and I let my daughter make mistakes because this is how she how she learns. Her experiences are a more valuable lesson than her parents telling her not to do things.
I apply the same principle in my business, I try new things and make lots of mistakes. Every mistake is a small step in achieving my long-term goals; mistakes help me identify what’s right or wrong in my buisness. Every mistake is a new lesson learned.
Tsitaliya: How do you describe your approach to parenting?
Andreea: I am my daughter’s friend, not her mother. It is true, sometimes I have to be the mother, but most of the times I am her friend. We fight, we kiss, but we always get together at the end. We trust and respect each other, and this is the foundation of our relationship.
Tsitaliya: How does a typical day look like for you?
Andreea: My work days are quite tight, and I am trying to balance between working on a new recipe, baking a cake for a customer, taking photos of my cakes for the blog, writing an original story on the blog, going for a run, practice yoga and meditation, spend time with my family, call my mother, read a book, cook dinner, going out with friends, watching a movie and many others. Most of the time all these are not possible :) but I try to fit in my schedule every day one of each: time for myself, time spent with my family, time for my business, time for learning something new. And when I keep this in mind, a typical day has enough hours to cover all these.
Tsitaliya: When you have a bad day, how do you deal with it? Do you have someone you trust completely?
Andreea: When running your own business, bad days happen and pass, same as great days. It is part of the game. The trick is not to give up, and every terrible day will become a great day. When something terrible happens, I rather not deal with it the same day, and take some time to think and reflect on what to do next. Otherwise, I am afraid I act by instinct and use emotions rather than be rational.
Tsitaliya: How do you take care of yourself? How do you practice self-love?
Andreea: I am a mother, entrepreneur, wife, daughter, friend and many others, but I try always to be me. I come first in all this complicated picture which we call life. When I do not feel well, or I feel tired, I take a break to recover, and after that, I come back to what I was doing before.
A few years ago I did not think is possible to make time for sports in my daily routine, now running and practicing yoga have become an important part of my regular schedule and it’s hard to live without it.
Tsitaliya: What makes you laugh?
Andreea: The way my daughter moves her eyes when she is searching the words to tell me in a friendly way she did something, which she knows won’t be tolerated.
The insider jokes I have with my husband, and when the situation calls for them, we just start laughing both of us at the same time, without saying a word.
A funny book, a joke told by a friend, a cat staying still on a field waiting for the mice to come out, a kid playing…oh …there are so many things!!
Andreea is hosting her next Refined sugar-free, Lactose-free and gluten-free desserts workshop in May. She’s been kind enough to give all Mums in Heels readers a discount of 20% using CODE: MUMS20
Hop on and book your spot now. There’re only a few more spots left.