EVEN IF YOU DON’T THINK YOU’RE PROGRESSING, YOU ARE. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day of running a business. It takes a lot of time, that you’re constantly in a state of adrenaline. It takes reflecting to truly look back and see how far you’ve come. How much you have learned even when you don’t feel like you are.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Samm Stangeland.
Samm Stangeland is a 10+ year music veteran, working with and producing concerts with some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Lady Gaga, The Eagles, Coldplay, and Beyonce. Her experience coupled with her passion for music, motivated her to create Rock & Roll Candle Co., which are Scents Inspired by Your Favorite Songs. R&RCCO had been in formation for a couple of years, but as a direct result of COVID halting her jobs in the music industry, she redirected all her energy and time into it and here we are.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Yes, absolutely! I was raised by grandparents — both sets. Moved between them a bit growing up, so I definitely would say I grew up quickly and have always had an old soul thanks to them. My dad was in the picture though and did everything in his power to make a music fan out of me — successfully, showing me everything from The Rolling Stones and Beatles to The Cure, Gregg Allman, and Green Day. He definitely wanted me to be a female rocker. Sorry, Dad! But, at least he was able to reap the benefits of me working in the music industry.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
It was pure luck! I was going through all the woes of turning 25 and still working in the hospitality industry. I was so checked out and felt way too old to be there. Simultaneously, we were recovering from the housing market crash and biz was not doing so well. One day, I had a friend ask if I was interested in working a 3-day Spanish concert at Honda Center in Anaheim. I almost didn’t take it. I couldn’t see the big picture nor the opportunity, so hesitantly I decided at the very least that I needed the money and took the gig. After that one ended, I got calls to do more and more shows and by the end of that year, I had moved into a more stable position. I ALMOST DIDN’T TAKE THE GIG. I’m so glad I did; my entire career is in thanks to that gig and consequently starting Rock & Roll Candle Co.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
This is a tough one — I’ve had several pinch-me moments over the course of my career, but I would say one of the top ones was getting to work The Cure in Oahu. I had always been a big fan of theirs (Thanks, Dad) and this was still pretty early on in my experience, so getting paid to go to Hawaii and work with one of my faves was the ultimate reward. Come showtime, they played for 3 hours and I was standing in the barricade watching every second of it. Afterward, we found out that the band and crew were staying at the same hotel as me and my boss. We all went back to the hotel, sat on the patio, drank our congratulatory beverages, and then ran into the Pacific Ocean fully clothed. Yep, some of the band too. It was such a highlight and total “Rockstar” moment.
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?
Part of the job was getting after-show food for the bands. I remember one night locking all the pizzas in the van — along with my keys — big oops! Always remember to check for your keys.
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 about that?
There are SOOO many! From my friend, Mikey, who offered me the job and later on was a huge supporter of Rock & Roll Candle Co., to my dad, to my bosses. Everyone has played a significant role in helping me achieve.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Take any and every opportunity! Believe in the magic of life! You have no idea what could come from each situation, so don’t limit yourself.
What drives you to get up every day and work in Music industry? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I love seeing how many women are excelling in their positions of power! It used to be such a man’s world, but the women are shining through and it’s so beautiful to see. On a different note, I wish the industry would become more green and eco-friendly. There is SO much waste and it’s heartbreaking. Before COVID, I was working on an initiative to donate leftover catering. There is a lot of red tape but a huge area of improvement for it. There are so many people in need and so much food going to waste. Let’s connect the dots! In addition, I am adamant about R&RCCO being eco-friendly and sustainable. Also, working on a recycling program in the future.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I’m really excited to build out my candle company and take it as far as I can. It’s my baby and I’m learning at each turn but it’s so gratifying to see people receiving it well. On the music front, it’s just excited to get back to work. As I type this, I’m on a plane heading to Lollapalooza and then to NYC to work with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. After sitting idle and anxious for 18 months during the pandemic, I am overjoyed to get back in the arena again — get it? ;)
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in Music industry? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
- Diversity means culture and ideas! We are such an artistic industry that speaks to all walks of life. We need input and influence to appeal to such a mass audience and array of voices.
- To keep propelling the industry forward. Keep it on its toes and never let it become stale.
- To envelop the fan in such a way that the music speaks to them, gives them a space that feels like home.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- STICK WITH IT — There are so many times you’ll want to quit. Success can never be achieved if you don’t stay in the arena.
- IT WILL BE AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. It speaks for itself but truly running a business is a rollercoaster. Successes, failures, roadblocks, progress — it’s all part of the entrepreneurial life.
- NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU. Your product may not be for everyone. May not be for most people actually, but you will have an audience. There are nearly 8 billion people in the world ☺
- ENJOY THE RIDE. It’s limited and nothing lasts forever. Enjoy all the ups and downs — who knows, when you scale up, you just might miss all the baby steps and hustle from the early days.
- EVEN IF YOU DON’T THINK YOU’RE PROGRESSING, YOU ARE. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day of running a business. It takes a lot of time, that you’re constantly in a state of adrenaline. It takes reflecting to truly look back and see how far you’ve come. How much you have learned even when you don’t feel like you are.
Can you share with our readers any selfcare routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
It is not always easy to get sleep, so when I can, I definitely do. I also love intermittent fasting. It gives me a ton more natural energy, which is pertinent for getting through the long, long show days. I also enjoy walking and listening to my podcasts/music. It’s such a therapeutic exercise for me, almost meditative. And last, I have little phone reminders that go off during the day to keep me grounded, happy, and in a good mindset. Some days you need them more than others.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Believe in the magic of life! The little girl growing up in Riverside, CA never could have imagined that she would be producing some of the biggest concerts in the world and starting her own business. You never know what life will bring, so keep an open mind and heart.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
This is two-fold. I would say to love and help each other; simply put compassion. I’m sure this comes from my Grandma teaching me the Golden Rules but we just never know what someone is going through and I think it is so important to help others and make their days better, even just with a smile. Also, food waste. It breaks my heart that there are so many in need and yet we through away 40% of food. We can do better, we just can.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Matthew McConaughey! Perhaps, because I just read Greenlights and just find him so fascinating! A good human, a great husband and father, incredible actor but also just seems to get the most out of life. And well, because I can’t have lunch with Anthony Bourdain nor Tom Petty.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
Yes yes, my Instagram is @sammstangeland and my business is @rockandrollcandleco
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.
In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.
Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.
With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.