Andrea Iervella of SchoolWorx – A Mompreneur® Success Story

image of Schoolworx's Andrea Iervella
  • Published
  • August 20, 2015

Every parent knows the swell of pride that happens when your little one presents a piece of artwork they’ve done all by themselves. That feeling never really goes away, but somewhere after the 10th or 50th piece, another feeling starts to creep in – ‘Where am I going to keep all this stuff?’

For Calgary’s Andrea Iervella, the solution was to photograph the art and make hardcover photo books. It solved the problem of storage and made it easy to enjoy the creations. When she started to share the books with friends and family, the idea for SchoolWorx was born.

Now anyone can preserve a child’s art without having to fill up tubs – from bins to books, as the company motto goes – by sending it directly to SchoolWorx where it’s professionally photographed or scanned (even restored if necessary!) before being printed and beautifully bound. It’s an amazing solution that parents everywhere are jumping on. No surprise then that Andrea was named 2015 Mompreneur of the Year.

We interviewed Andrea and spoke about the entrepreneurial spirit and the balance required to raise a family and grow a business.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My earliest memories of entrepreneurialism date back to when I was a child! I remember sitting in the back of my families van on road trips devising new products that the world so desperately needed…like purposeful lipstick cases to t-shirt designs and even new home models.

image of an open schoolworx photobook

With a father who was a successful entrepreneur himself, I naturally went on to acquire my Bachelor of Commerce Degree and majored in Marketing. After many years of building a career as a Marketing Manager in Calgary I decided to put my career on hold and raise a family. It wasn’t until after my third child that I felt like I needed to do more!

I loved being a stay at home mom but I was ready to nurture my own spirit. I often tell people that there is something different about entrepreneurs…there is a spirit that entrepreneurs have that does not let them stop creating/solving/doing!

It can stay hidden while an entrepreneur continues to work for others but it shines its light frequently until you are ready to acknowledge it!

image of a schoolworx photobook spine
SchoolWorx creates beautiful, high-quality photobooks.

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The best part about owning SchoolWorx is that I get to have the creative control and freedom to make my own choices. But most of all it’s the little things that truly make my heart smile and remind me why I love being an entrepreneur. Like being able to see my children out the door and home every day from School or holding my little guys hand every day while I lay with him before nap time. These are the things I don’t want to give up!

Can you describe a typical day?
For me each and every day is different. My most important tasks for the week usually determine how I schedule work into my days. As a Mompreneur I often have to get creative on how to fit work into my daily schedule. I like to get up earlier than the rest of my family which helps me ground myself, complete any urgent tasks and prepare for the day ahead.

image of andrea iervella and her family
Andrea enjoying time with her family.

I have two school aged children and one preschooler, therefore I will often hide in the pantry if I have to take a call during the day. And just when I think my preschooler is busy playing or watching his show I will try to steal a couple minutes to reply to my emails, but alas he has seen me and has stolen my phone again!:) I have become a master at shuffling my day and activities.

What happens when it gets to be too much? Do you have a network of family and friends who can pitch in?
During the first couple of startup years I feel so very fortunate to have had my mother close by to call for help. She always made herself available to whip over to my house at a moment’s notice when I needed to work within a deadline. My husband also has a flexible schedule and so often I can count on him to give me some quick bursts of time during the day to complete any red flags that come up!

I’m so very grateful for their support and that they were able to share in my vision for what I have been creating.


image of an open SchoolWorx photobook

Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
I am enthusiastic to grow my business and I clearly see what SchoolWorx’s future has in store, but there is a reason “Mom” comes first in “Mompreneur” and this I hold dear to my heart. It is very important to me that my family knows they come first! My children and husband are my greatest fans and they are cheering me on from a house that is lived in and where there is love! So while I do all that I can to not sacrifice something at home for work, I often do sacrifice work for home. SchoolWorx will just have to grow slowly along side us, so that we can continue to grow together!


image of finished schoolworx books

What do you like to do with time off? Are you familiar with the concept?
A mentor of mine, Dawn Mucci, reminded me of a great saying; “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” I take a lot of time to enjoy life with my kids and husband. We especially enjoy our summer weekends camping and enjoying the outdoors. When I find a little bit of spare time for me, I love to garden, read, cook and bake fancy Birthday cakes.

Are you active in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
When I first set up my business it was very important to me to give back to the community around me. Since 2013, I have supported numerous charities by donating SchoolWorx Books as silent auction items. These include: Rainbow Society of Alberta, Adoption in Haiti, Rethink Breast Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Timbits Hockey Calgary.

Name another entrepreneur who inspires you.
My father, Ed Dzieciuch inspires me. He showed me what hard work truly looked like and with modesty how to be grateful for the many blessings I have in my life. I’m also very inspired by all entrepreneurial mothers I continue to meet along this journey who have successfully juggled the demands of raising a family while owning their own business and have stayed true to their own values and beliefs.

What does the future look like for you and SchoolWorx?
I’m very excited for what the future presents for SchoolWorx and for myself. I see myself continuing to grow my business at a pace that is in line with my desire to be present in my family’s life.


2015 mompreneur of the year announcement banner

Any tips for moms thinking of starting a business?
I think one of the best things moms can do is look to join a local networking group with likeminded individuals. It can get very lonely being the only person so emerged in your company and having others to network with or bounce ideas off of is invaluable. I would also say that if you can, find a great business coach or mentor. Hiring an independent coach to work with you and look at your business from the outside in can be enlightening and create a very clear vision going forward.

FS Local has partnered with the Mompreneur® Showcase Group Inc. (Mompreneurs®) in an effort to share the inspiring success stories of working moms who never gave up on their dreams and embraced the challenges of both owning a business and raising a family.

We feature regular interviews with Canadian moms and explore what it takes to succeed at home and in the workplace.

mompreneurs


Content Manager at FS Local


Jesse is a typical class clown. Born and raised just north of the Toronto, he fell in love with the City on school trips to the ROM and the Science Centre. He tried Vancouver for a few years, but the call of home was too strong to resist. Today he lives in the North-East Upper Beaches. (What? It’s a thing!)

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