PHOTOS BY BRODY WHEELER & DEB MCGWIN
Who is Annika D’andrea? Well Rochester Woman Online asked just that questions as we sat down for our interview with our latest cover woman at her beautiful home in Webster, NY.
This woman is the true epitome of inspiration, ambition and an all around empowering entrepreneur. I am sure this is not the last we will see or hear from this amazing woman and her evolving journey.
Tell us about who Annika D’andrea is.
I am a passionate, dedicated and ambitious entrepreneur from a small island with big dreams. I was born and raised in Westmoreland, Jamaica – a rural area with little to no exposure to city life. I emigrated from Jamaica as a teenager and moved to the United States. Growing up in rural Jamaica, I was surrounded by hardworking, dedicated individuals and understood from an early age the importance of hard work. I was raised to respect others and dream big. I was also taught that I had the ability to achieve anything I dreamed as long as I worked hard. This is a belief I have carried with me throughout my life experiences, and have taught my own three children who are now young adults.
What made you decide to create Tender Loving Family Care and become a female entrepreneur?
My passion for caring and helping others. I realized from an early age that I was born to serve a special purpose and I don’t believe there is any other way. The passion to care for others was born in me. I love to care, and doing what I love makes it possible to thrive.My personal and professional life is guided by the principles of integrity, honesty, quality, commitment, respect, and dedication. At around six years old, I started helping and caring for those in need. At that young age, I would help people in my church and the community with any tasks that I was physically capable of doing. As an adult, I had first hand experience of what it’s like to care for a loved one, without having the resources and support available to provide respite and other much-needed services.
Tell us about TLFC. How was it created? What is the concept behind it?
Tender Loving Family Care, Inc., (TLFC) is a New York State Licensed Home Care Services Agency, offering compassionate care to individuals who need extra help to stay independent. We understand everyone’s desire to remain independent, and we actively work with our clients to ensure they live a well-dignified life in the comfort and surroundings of their own home. TLFC offers in-home care for the young and elderly.
Tender Loving Family Care, Inc. takes a comprehensive approach to providing home health care by offering complete solutions in the comfort of your own home. Our services and programs are designed to educate patients and caregivers on their medical condition, injury, or illness in an effort to maximize independence.
More and more older people, electing to live independent, non-institutionalized lives, are receiving in-home care services as their physical capabilities diminish. Younger adults who are disabled or recuperating from acute illness are choosing in-home care whenever possible. As hospital stays decrease, increasing the numbers of patients who need services when they return home.
Patients and families can feel confident that Tender Loving Family Care is committed to providing the best quality service and programs. Our focus is always our patients and families’ satisfaction. We provide service in Monroe, Orleans, Ontario, Livingston, Genesee, Wayne, and Wyoming Counties.
Our company is based on the belief that our customer’s needs are of the utmost importance. We are committed to meeting those needs. As a result, a high percentage of our business is from repeat customers and referrals.
What are some of the things you find help you to be a successful business owner and in creating a highly successful business?
We receive many referrals. We also utilize social media, radio, television and speaking at different community events. The most successful and rewarding are referrals – it is a testament to the great work being done at Tender Loving Family Care as we find many families are spreading the word of how pleased they are with our services and recommending us to friends and other loved ones.
Are you considering franchising in the future to other states?
No, not at this time. TLFC has so much more to offer its local communities.
If you could interview one of your mentors, who would it be and what would you ask them?
There are so many inspirational and influential people in my life that also act as mentors. That is one of the things I am so grateful for. I draw inspiration and strength from several of those individuals. In business, I have always had great admiration and respect for Bob Fox, CPA. I don’t have a specific question that I’d ask him because as a close mentor and inspiration to me he has always shared his knowledge and experiences with me of how to be successful in business.
Have you found social media to help or hinder you in promoting your business especially during the pandemic?
Social media has definitely helped me to promote my business during the pandemic. I have been able to connect with so many amazing people that need care and support. Through social media we have also been fortunate to recruit so many caring and passionate caregivers – they are integral to TLFC thriving, especially throughout the pandemic.
How do you juggle the fast paced schedule of being a woman entrepreneur with your family life?
Juggling the demands of being an entrepreneur with a family has many challenges. There was never a blueprint on how to do both and there were many struggles. However, a strong family support system has been my saving grace. My family understands the demands of my profession and as such have always been available to support my needs. I have also had to learn that a strong, efficient team is key to sustaining a work life balance. Trusting my employees to lead the cause when I needed to prioritize family life has also been effective for me.
What challenges have you faced this year and how have you overcome them?
My major challenges were keeping my employees and clients safe and sustaining COVID was a time of many uncertainties. Majority of my clients are considered to be the most vulnerable to the virus, and as a business owner my number one priority included keeping them safe and minimizing their exposure to the virus. In addition to keeping them safe, I had to ensure my employees were also safe. Simultaneously managing both was very challenging. We had to implement stringent policies for our clients which became a challenge to ensure adherence, and we also implemented policies for our caregivers that sometimes saw them being away from their loved ones for extended periods of time.
What motivates you and keeps you moving forward ?
My passion. My passion for helping my clients, my passion for caring. On days when I stumble upon challenges, knowing that the service I provide for my clients is what keeps them going, knowing my services is what gives their families hope. That is what keeps me going.
Did anyone ever prepare you, or encourage you to own your own business?
I had no preparation. Most of what I know now is through trial and error and learning as I go along. I knew my goals and what I needed to accomplish. With faith, dedication and a lot of research I prepared myself. My family has always encouraged me to start my own business as they understood my passion and knew my dedication for helping others.
Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in the next 3-5 years?
Growing. We never stop learning, and with learning comes growing. I believe Tender Loving Family Care will expand to more markets and serve many more clients. I also believe we will develop innovative programs to keep our communities and our clients engaged and build upon our group of companies to offer a wider range of healthcare services.
What makes your business unique and stand out from others?
My business is unique because we pride ourselves on the exceptional services we provide. Our employees are great at what they do and are passionate about healthcare, caring for, and helping others. Having a strong team and consistently providing good services and a successful employee wellness program are what has helped Tender Loving Family Care. We are proud to be a successful minority-owned business and promise to always deliver the highest quality service to our clients.
What are some of the pros and cons of being a female entrepreneur, especially in 2021?
The pros of being a female entrepreneur is the creative freedom and personal satisfaction I gain from knowing that I am positively impacting the lives of others – I am able to inspire other women to own their own business through my experiences. One con is that you are sometimes challenged by your male counterparts who may try to discredit your success simply because of your gender. However, with determination and agility I learned how to navigate the cons of entrepreneurship.
Do you have any helpful advice to someone interested in starting their own business?
Go for it! It may seem overwhelming and difficult but if it is something you are sincerely passionate about , you will succeed. It will take a lot of work, but this is your business, so the rewards and personal satisfaction will far outweigh the hurdles.
What type of schooling prepared you to be where you are today?
I wasn’t sure exactly what my career path would be, but I knew it had to include caring for those in need. I started my career as a Certified Nursing Assistant and knew immediately that I needed to advance my career. I received my undergraduate degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and completed my Master’s degree in Business Administration from Capella University.
If you needed to start it all over again tomorrow and you had just one thing to change, add or subtract, what would it be ?
I wouldn’t change anything about my experience. I have learned so much along the way, I had so many failures and successes, I believe each one of them molded me into the entrepreneur I am today. It also helped me to build a strong foundation for my business – learning what works and what doesn’t.
What makes you an expert in understanding the needs of individuals to age-in-place?
My vast experience makes me an expert. Which is one of the reasons why I wouldn’t change anything about my experience. I started my career as a Certified Nursing Assistant, I was at the bedsides of these individuals, I understand their wants and needs, I understand the importance of meeting their needs and ensuring they receive the care they need. As someone with such a significant foundation working with these individuals and gradually working my way up in this field, I have all the fundamental knowledge and more to be an expert in understanding their needs.
Did you always know you wanted to be in this field and help others?
Yes, caring for the elderly has always been a strong passion of mine. My story began as a young girl, helping seniors for countless hours in their homes after church with friends. We completed chores and served meals to the elderly. The feeling of seeing the difference we made in their lives was unforgettable.
Name one defining moment when you knew that you were going to be a nurse and help others.
There wasn’t one defining moment for me. Caring for others has always been a core value of who I am. As I grew up, my father had great plans for me, urging me to become a lawyer. I spent two years trying to fit into his dream but could no longer ignore my true calling imprinted in my heart from childhood memories. As I explored my career aspirations, I was led to pursue a career in nursing. I also realized that spreading joy and smiles became more difficult when loved ones faced the difficult task of caregiving without proper support services. Although many facilities have wonderful nurses, caregivers, and other caring staff, most patients feared being institutionalized.
Tell us about one moment in your life that has had a lasting impression on you and formed who you are today.
As a child growing up in rural Jamaica I would go to church every Sunday with the elders in my community. I remember constantly feeling compelled to help them with their activities of daily living. Even when I was not in church, I would find their homes, visit them and help them with whatever tasks they desired. These experiences were the defining moments and had a lasting impact on me. When I wasn’t certain of my career path, these memories were constant and helped me to be who I am today.
What do you attribute your success to? What advice do you have for others that you wish you knew prior to starting your business?
I attribute my success to my upbringing. I was raised to never doubt myself, be passionate about what I love and always strive for greatness. Giving up was non-negotiable in my culture. If I started something, I had to do it to my best ability and never give up. My advice for others that I wish I knew prior to starting my business is that there isn’t a one size fits all plan. You have to create a plan that works for you and your business, and even if the odds are against you, keep trying. Failures are inevitable, but many are blessings. They help you learn and grow.
Tell our audience one thing about yourself that not many others know.I am a big animal lover! If my family would allow me, and if I had the resources, I would have a house full of animals living happily ever after.
If you wrote a book and could only use 1 word for the title of your life story, what would it be?
Resilience. The story of my life has centered around being resilient and my life experiences have allowed me to master being resilient.