Ladies Who Launch, #1: Andrea Koehler of Coloring Broadway
Updated: May 15, 2020
Welcome to the very first installment of Ladies Who Launch, my new blog series where I chat with extraordinary bossladies and hear all about their brands, passions, and entrepreneurial journeys.
When I first came up with this idea and put out the call on social media, I was truly shocked with how many responses I got from women who were eager to tell their business stories. What I've learned about these awesome ladies has been incredible! I can't wait for you to meet them all.
And now, without further ado, let's get started with our very first feature!
So when I was working towards launching this blog series, I couldn't think of a better way to kick things off than by featuring Andrea Koehler first. She brings two of my favorite things together!
Andrea Koehler is the Founder and Chief Coloring Officer at Coloring Broadway, a brand that launched in April 2017 and combines coloring and creativity with the transformative messages of musical theatre.
In addition to designing and selling Broadway-themed products for the musical theatre fan, their mission is to "create opportunities to connect with and extend your theatre experience, to create space for pondering, self-reflection and growth - and to do it all while singing showtunes, of course!"
What an awesome and fun combo!
Andrea is based in Seattle, though she's in NYC as much as possible -- including being there this weekend for 32nd Annual Broadway Flea Market!
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about Andrea's entrepreneurial path, and the inspiration for this unique brand and mission.
Q: What made you decide to launch your business?
In April of 2015 I picked up a coloring book. After 2 weeks of blissful "arting" (something i hadn't ever allowed myself to play with - I'm a dancer and physical artist) - my instructional design brain went off. I'm an Instructional Designer - think an architect for training - and I specialize in Leadership Training & Development. Coloring (or the act of coloring) had a lot of benefits that I could use to cultivate self-awareness and personal/professional development. I wrote a book called The Power of Positive Coloring (illustrations paired with mindfulness activities). And then, in April of 2017, after listening to the Hamilton Cast Album non-stop, I talked with my illustrator and we put some motivational phrases from Hamilton into a coloring page - and Coloring Broadway was born! And I've been NONSTOP since then.
Q: What is your earliest entrepreneurial memory, long before you decided to become a business owner?
I don't know! Like seriously. I have always loved working with a team and had NEVER dreamed of being a one-woman show! I had passion projects, but they weren't geared towards making $ - rather, they've always been impact-driven. This is my first foray into making the $ and the impact dance together as an entrepreneurial venture! Needless to say, I learn something new every day ... usually more than one thing.
Q: What does your staff/team look like if you have one?
I WEAR LOTS OF HATS! Though I am working to build a team, I'm still wearing more hats than I'd like to. I have a featured illustrator (the talented Justine Fisher). I have a dear friend who has helped me get my Amazon Shop / Website store up and running. I've had someone help build the website. And now ... I have plans for a VA and some marketing support. Time to get those business mechanics in place.
Q: Who is/are your personal support system?
Whew - I couldn't do it without this. My partner in life, Tamir, has been super supportive of my "hey, let me try to build a business that doesn't exist" idea. I have some great friends from the coaching world that ask me the pointy questions when I get off track. I keep myself going to the dance studio because I know that fuels me. And I have some great online (and in person) entrepreneur groups that are keys to my sanity.
Q: What is something you wish you knew before starting your own business (the shit nobody tells you about)?
I knew before I started that you will quit a 50 hr/week corp job to work 80 hr/week for yourself. But what I didn't know, and no-one ever does, is how many emotional triggers will be discovered as you step into the role of Boss rather than Employee. YOU have to do EVERYTHING - which includes catching yourself when you are procrastinating, when you put off the things you don't like to do and just create, that all the things I thought i'd dealt with in therapy - all the self-worth and confidence issues, would resurface and sabotage me on my way to pursuing my dream. ALL THE FEAR ... EMOTIONAL HIJACKING IS REAL!
Q: What is something you're REALLY bad at?
Um ... the easy answer ... $! Lots of emotional baggage around money, accounting, taxes ... all of it. Which means I put off dealing with it. I can also suck hard at following up. Those "who are you to think you can do this" voices creep up and have derailed some really awesome opportunities. (Like responding to this later than I should have).
Q: What are your Top 5 Tools of the Trade that you couldn't live without?
1. Monday is a project management software as a service tool that I couldn’t live without. My team and I use it on the daily! 2. We Zoom! Or Skype. But whatever video conferencing service suits your fancy. 3. Because I’m an entrepreneur and I work at home by myself, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are my office mates. Without them I would go insane. 4. Instagram and Facebook. 5. My phone. The fact that I am outside on 45th St. between Eighth and Seventh in New York about to go into a Broadway show and using voice-to-text to send you this message makes my phone my number one tool!
Q: How do you de-compress -- such as binge tv, activities, food, hobbies, pop culture guilty pleasures, etc?
Decompression is a big one for me. Coloring still works ... But I love watching British period dramas! So - Carnival Row, Outlander are faves. I love Schitt's Creek! I've been reading fiction again (the Shades of Magic trilogy) to get some #digitaldowntime and get my face out of my devices. Dancing is a go-to. But I also love mundane activities (product assembly, laundry, gardening) that allow me to listen to personal development books ... MY FAVORITE PASTIME. Wait ... did I say Broadway!
Q: Most-played track on Spotify?
Because Broadway ... the playlist is full of that. SIX is my current infatuation. But Be More Chill and Waitress are right up there! When I work ... It's classical music or Brazilian bossa nova!
Q: Favorite liquid refreshment?
Pisco & Simply Limeade / Simply Limeade & Malibu (My other half likes it sweet - so I have given in to the sweet side of the drinky winkies).
Q: Is there a woman who inspires you, or that you look up to?
Do I have to pick just one? I'm surrounded by them in my Broadway space - Alisa Hurwitz (the Dr. Drama), Jen Wheeler Khan (Scenery Bags), Gillian Pensavale (the Hamilcast), Shoshana Medney (BwaySho). If you don't know these ladies - you need to!
Q: Favorite inspirational quote?
Again ... ONE!?! really - I am kind of an Inspirational quote whore. I love them - and different ones speak to me at different times. Right now what is coming to me - though i can't remember where from is - Dreams + Clarity + Action = Possible
Q: For the other entrepreneurs out there, what's your best business tip?
Feel the fear and do it anyway. But, to quote Gary Vee - EMPATHY & SELF-AWARENESS.
Q: Everyone's got one... what's your favorite curse word?!
Haferflocken - it means Oatmeal but sounds sooooo good and is better than my go-to "Mother Fucker" (sorry for the poor spelling, my German friends).
Q: Last question: what about this job & lifestyle brings you the most joy and fulfillment?
IMPACT IMPACT IMPACT. Above all, I love what I'm creating - so even when I'm having to learn something I don't necessarily want to - I know that it's serving my bigger purpose. Self-Awareness is the only way we make this place better - If we don't know, we can't grow.
I want to send a HUGE thank you to Andrea for sharing her story with me, and bringing us all into her colorful world.
One of the things that resonated most for me was when she said:
Those "who are you to think you can do this" voices creep up and have derailed some really awesome opportunities.
Ugh. We have all suffered from the dreaded imposter syndrome at one point or another. It SUCKS. But it sucks a teeny bit less when you know that you're not alone in those moments of self-doubt. Thank you for being honest, Andrea!
But you know what doesn't suck?!
- - -
Are you (or someone you know) perfect for a future feature in this series? Click here!
Read our next interview: Amy Tipton of Feral Girl Books
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed within these interview answers are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Alycia Yerves Creative. Any content provided by our interviewees are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.