Today we’d like to introduce you to Andreea Ciulac.
Andreea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I came to the States four years ago through the lottery visa. I was 24 at the time and I didn’t know anyone in America, so I chose Chicago because it seemed to be an immigrant-friendly city. Plus, it was big enough to provide plenty of job opportunities.
A journalist in my home country, Romania, I did everything I could to return to my field.
By day, I was a part-time server at a retirement community. By night, I kept a blog to practice writing in English. I also networked and interned for a handful of wellness companies, doing everything from writing articles to managing their social media channels.
My goal, though, was working for the Chicago Tribune. I got in touch with a couple of reporters and that’s how I found out they were looking for editorial assistant. A year and a half after landing in this foreign country, I was living my dream.
But in order to move up in the company, I had to prove myself. Slowly, I was allowed to write for the life and style section, and, later, given a small section in the Sunday issue.
A year ago, I switched jobs within the company to become a photo editor. It seemed like a good way to acquire new skills.
Around the same time, I had this idea that started to keep me up at night.
I’ve always been into self-improvement. There is a sense that it is silly or self-indulgent. With so much stigma around it, I was embarrassed to admit reading books on how to become more confident, a better partner or make more money.
But when friends and co-workers were in a dilemma?
They’d come to me for practical, bite-sized advice that I read in some book they would have likely turned up their nose at for being too “self-helpy.”
I wanted to change that.
So in August 2017, I created The Sanity Snack.
And I promised my readers that they could get advice, encouragement and insight, without being told “The Universe is listening,” “To shine their light,” and other self-help platitudes.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’ll be honest: Juggling a full-time job and The Sanity Snack hasn’t been easy.
Growing an online following took time. Making a profit also took time.
If you’d told me a year ago everything I have to overcome to keep my business going, I’d have said “No thanks; I think I like my comfort zone better.”
I just took a leap of faith and opened it with zero entrepreneurial experience.
And while not the smartest way to start a business, it probably saved me years or being paralyzed by fear. That’s what keeps most people from taking action toward a project: They agonize over whether it’s the right idea and how they’ll be able to pull it off.
And yet, for all the challenges with it, the website opened so many doors for me. It allowed me to connect with amazing authors, influencers of the moment, world class athletes and it even brought me a potential book deal.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the The Sanity Snack story. Tell us more about the business.
The Sanity Snack is meant to be a go-to source of bite-sized advice brought to you by self-help experts. The concept of self-help makes most people cringe. But the self-help industry is much more than meets the eye. Sandwiched between trailblazers like Oprah or Tony Robinson and the mystical world of shamans and astrologists, there’s an entire ecosystem of experts. We’re talking about therapists, scientists, business coaches, fitness trainers and more. Their knowledge is pure gold. But many are not interested in acing the marketing game, which means you’re less likely to see their names popping up in your social media feeds. As someone who knows a thing or two about what makes a good story, I’m perfectly happy to dig through all this information and pack their advice into bite-sized content you can digest on your morning commute. While a sanity snack can be inhaled in five minutes flat, it has enough staying power to get you through your day or simply give you a nice jolt of mental energy. And if you crave more? Go and check out our sources’ websites, books and podcasts. Follow them on social media.
What are your plans for the future? What are you looking forward to or planning for – any big changes?
I am looking forward to teaming up with health companies and big wellness brands, creating a Sanity Snack app and perhaps opening a Facebook group where readers can leave feedback, suggest stories and share with each other their personal sanity snacks – those things they say or do to keep themselves in tip-top mental shape.
My wildest dream is to have Sanity Snacks Kiosks in places like Target. They would print out practical solutions to various real-life problems, all brought by experts. Ideally, there will be hundreds of topics and questions to choose from, including “How do I get my partner/kids to take out the trash/do the dishes etc. Those are things that chip away at one’s daily happiness.