Be persistent and have patience — Persistence and patience are probably the most important attributes to possess when you’re starting your own business. Never give up and know that success never comes overnight.
As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Lehmann.
Andrew Lehmann is the founder and creative behind Lehmann Design Haus, a small design Haus creating scented ambiance with high quality natural and sustainable materials. In 2010, Andrew moved to sunny California from his home state of Wisconsin to start a new adventure. Little did he know that six years later, he would start another adventure — establishing his own brand.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In 2015, I was working in tv commercial production helping make big-budget commercials. It was not at all glamorous the way you’re probably imagining it to be. I was involved in the paperwork side of the business and not the creative side. In short, it was draining and I was desperate to tap into my own creative side. Creativity is something that truly fuels my soul and being creative was a really huge part of my life when I was younger.
I toyed with the idea of making my own candles for years but didn’t know where to start. So I Google-d how to make a candle and my interest quickly became an obsession and that obsession turned into my brand, Lehmann Design Haus.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When I started Lehmann Design Haus, I had no clue what it took to build an eCommerce business and I didn’t really know anyone trying to do what I was doing. To add to that, I was selling candles — a product most people want to smell before they buy. So in the beginning, I was really just selling to friends and family. Getting my name out there was a very daunting process.
Where did you get the drive to continue even when things were hard?
This question is kind of funny because when things get hard, I turn to my candles and dream of new products. I’ve found the whole candle-making process rather cathartic and actually the easy part of running a business.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Honestly, things are going really well and I feel awkward admitting that given how difficult last year was for so many people. When the world came to a halt in 2020, I was scared I was going to lose everything I worked so hard on since 2016. That was probably the only time I was happy I was wrong though. With everyone stuck at home, Lehmann Design Haus really took off. Who doesn’t like having a good-smelling home (or Haus)?
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Not cat-proofing my studio apartment when I first started. Imagine a cat jumping on a table full of freshly poured candles and wax flying EVERYWHERE. My cat (his name is Loki) was fine but I was a total wreck. After spending a couple of hours getting wax off Loki and bathing him, I returned to my kitchen where the wax had spattered the ceiling and walls like a Jackson Pollock painting. Needless to say, I was up until sunrise and 65 candles (who’s counting though) had just gone to waste.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The attention to detail that goes into every single product. Everything is poured, labeled, and packaged by hand in small batches using high-quality natural and sustainable materials.
Our fragrances are composed of both synthesized and natural molecules. We blend non-toxic fragrances and essential oils to create a tapestry for the senses. Each fragrance starts as an idea or a story and is then carefully crafted note by note.
Once I compose the final iteration, I begin testing the formula with our proprietary natural coconut wax blend and create a fragrant candle that lasts longer than most on the market. We make our products without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and dyes- offering one of the most luxurious burning experiences you will find.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take time for yourself and set healthy boundaries. When you work from home and it’s your own business it’s really easy to always be ON. I never said I was perfect at that 100% of the time but I’ve definitely improved.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
This question is a tough one to answer because I’ve been fortunate enough to lean on so many of my friends and family over the years. I am honestly grateful for everyone in my life who’s supported my dream and continues to cheer me on.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I use my success to be a better ally to those who want to start their own business. It’s not easy and self-doubt can be very real for some when you’re first getting started. There are a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Those downs sometimes make you want to quit but I want to be the one to tell you to keep going and to not let go of your dreams.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Trust your heart — You don’t need to say “Yes” to every opportunity. Especially in the beginning.
- Always be open to feedback even when unwarranted — I encourage you to always listen to others but never lose sight of your own vision.
- You will do math literally every day — I don’t know many people who actually love math and mathematics sounds like a given when you start your own business but I didn’t know just how much number crunching I would be doing on the day-to-day of my operations.
- Leverage Social media but don’t obsess — Social media has quickly become one of the most important tools for staying connected however don’t make it your only focus. There’s so much more about social media and the internet you need to stay on top of in order to keep growing!
- Be persistent and have patience — Persistence and patience are probably the most important attributes to possess when you’re starting your own business. Never give up and know that success never comes overnight.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
Breathe! Everything works out the way it’s supposed to in the end. I’ve called my parents in sheer panic countless amounts of times because something didn’t quite go the way I had planned. Looking back at all those moments, it was only spilled milk in the grand scheme of things. Also, my partner has been an amazing pillar of support since we met. He cheers me on in moments of celebration and he picks me up when I feel broken down.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I could start a movement, it would be raising awareness for mental health. I would love to use my brand as a vehicle to drive the conversation around normalizing mental health and getting help. I feel lucky to be surrounded by so many people where we can talk about it freely but there are so many people in the world that still have a lot of shame around it and I want to break that. Hopefully more on that in 2021. Stay tuned.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow us on Instagram @lehmanndesignhaus and check out our online store lehmanndesignhaus.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!