We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Zoppo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
People may tell you to make a plan and Stick to it. I disagree. When I started my company I thought things would go a certain way. I sure was wrong. and guess what? That is alright! Actually being flexible is a big plus! The only constant is change and in today’s ever changing world being able to pivot, change your plan, and work with what you have is key.
I’d also say that along with being able to adapt and move in new directions it is also important to jump in when you can. For instance, go ahead and set up a business. Use your business owner status to invest in yourself and what you want to do. From taking professional development classes to testing out product ideas in you kitchen, you can get started and build as an established business owner without having it all figured out. Like I said, everything changes and you may have to go into a new and better direction.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Through my passion of blending learning, play, and wonder of our natural world, I’ve grown a business and a brand that is evolving with the times. I started out primarily focused on working with families creating experiences and events around whimsical and earth minded themes. This grew and I brought on people to help. Our events promoted low carbon footprints, stewardship, and celebrating the seasons in magical fun ways through storytelling, costuming, puppetry, clowning, and nature crafts. Along with my background as an artist and teacher, the events and experiences grew and so did my skills as a facilitator, planner, and educator. I found that what I love most is bringing the magic and wonder of nature to children, teachers, and schools. My work with families and events led me to working directly with schools around metro ATL. I was able to team up with more educators and provide programs around food, wellness, yoga, art, and nature. In 2018 I was awarded the PBS Early Learning Champion Award with a focus on Innovative Play. Now I am most passionate about working with schools, educators, artists, organizations, and communities to create a culture of health, wellness, joy, and empowerment through our connection to our planet. From outdoor classrooms, to gardens, to the traditional classroom, I’m here to help educators, students, organizations, wherever they are at, feel supported and excited about using our natural world as a key context for teaching.
Carving your own path is never easy. I did not follow any model and did not see many people doing what I was and am doing. I did see there was a need for what I do. Seeing the need is the access point! Before starting as an entrepreneur, I did work in the field of environmental ed, programs, and teaching so I was able to see the need and try things out. Also, my mother ran a party and event service as a professional clown when I was growing up. It was a family affair and we all participated. So naturally I blended what I knew from the family fun business I grew up in and the education and skills learned working in the field. Building on what I knew, what I love, and what I want to learn, is how I shape what I do. The leap of faith or the leap of the fool, paired with dedication, discipline, imagination, and practicality is my recipe for making it happen.
As an educator who gets silly excited, and it shows, I became a character fondly called Ms. Ladybug by clients, friends, and family. Embracing this identity, Ms. Ladybug, my story and life grew into the magical fairy tale that my grandma said was more than possible. Through authenticity, passion to share and learn with children and adults, and wonder of our beautiful planet, my brand and company is trusted and valued. I’m so grateful for my community and clients who support me all along this ever-changing journey.
I want people to know that I’m here to help. I want to work with people to grow a greener and more joyful existence where ALL are welcome and celebrated.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Id say that Atlanta does not reveal it self easily. This city is wonderfully diverse and sprinkled with many magical and unique places. Friends who visit me say I’ve shown them sides of ATL they didn’t know about. Also, a great thing about ATL is that new places , tastes, and experiences are always emerging. I love how there are many black owned business and vegan places to check out and support! I like to take people on secret garden tours. Well they are not so secret but they are not the same as the hustle and bustle of the usual tourist haunts. First we’d go to Hell Yeah Gluten Free Bakery and grab an amazing seasonal treat. Id get the biscuit because they are so yummy I want one now. Then we would go to Lake Claire Community Land Trust and marvel at the winding paths and banana trees. Nearby is the sorta hidden wonder of the Mulberry Fields Garden where we can say hi to some goats. After we might grab some garlic fries at Candler park market. Next Id go to Constitution Lakes Park and hit up the Doll Head Trail and read quotes by Howard Finster and Neil Young because that is always good for the soul. Also I love the boardwalk feature at the park and sometimes there’s a bunch of huge dragonflies. We’d also have to visit the crowning jewel of gardens, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens! I can’t rave enough about our world class gardens and sometimes I am lucky enough to perform there with my company! We’d also have to visit the Center for Puppetry arts and say hi to Kermit! The center is another jewel! Hiking is one of my fav things to do so Id suggest Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area as it is truly unique and sometimes feels like your’e on another planet. There are many food options Id suggest depending on my guests preference and dietary needs. I may say hey, lets go get some funky fruits at YDFM. If its a weekend we can go to many local farmers markets. I love the one in Avondale for all its diversity and ready made foods. I also love the Decatur Market, Grant Park Market , the EAV market and the Freedom market at the Carter Center. Gosh.. there’s just so much to share!+
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shout out to my late Grandfather, Herbert Kohn, who gave me my mission which in Judaism is refereed to as Tikkun Olam, This belief, in his words, is that we are here to make this a better world for all for the privilege of getting to live on this earth.
Shout out to my late Grandmother, Riva Zoppo, who gave me my style and fed my heart and dreams. She taught me to weave magic into what I do and to care for the little things and beings. Most importantly, she taught me that the most important ingredient is LOVE.
Shout out to my community for the ongoing support! And a big forever heart thank you to Wande Okunoren-Meadows and her team at Little Ones Early Learning Center for elevating me, educators, children, families, and many important issues like health, wellness and access to local foods.