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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.


Ep131 Transcript: Interview with Sandra Angelo

July 31, 2023

Andrea Vahl: Can you start an art business that makes millions and impacts people all over the globe?

Well, my guest today, Sandra Angelo did just that. She’s amazing. Listen to our interview as we dive into how she got started, how she transformed herself as an artist, and how she’s impacted thousands and thousands of people all over the globe.

Hello, dreamers. Welcome to the late starters club, giving you the inspiration, mindset, and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Hello, late starters. It’s your host, Andrea Vahl. And I am here with the amazing, this super talented Sandra Angelo, and she is an amazing artist. So welcome Sandra.

Sandra Angelo: Andrea. I am so happy to be here. This is such a great podcast. I’ve listened to many episodes and they’re so inspiring.

Andrea Vahl: Oh, that’s so awesome.

That is so awesome. I, I so appreciate you joining us. So for those of you who who are not familiar with Sandra, she equips women over 50 with classical skills so that they can master art in days instead of decades. She’s a Rhode Island school of design or Rhode Island school of design named her america’s leading art coach who takes people from amateur to amazing fast. And you guys have to go check out her website. You have to check out the things she’s doing because she puts all these before and after drawings of her students who have made these huge leaps. And I feel like I need to take your class as well because I’m a terrible artist. I know that it’s just a matter of getting the right training and it’s just incredible to see the progress people make.

So I’m so excited to dive into how you have crafted that and how you’ve how you started this journey.

Sandra Angelo: Yes, Andrea, if your art never made it to your mom fridge, you’re in my audience because I mainly work with people who want to be an artist, but they’re awful. And so I’m really good at taking from stick figures to realism.

And then I relented eventually and let some of the gifted people in, but I mainly work with the non artists.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. And she’s got an amazing Facebook group called master art fast with thousands of members in there where she helps teach some great, great skills.

And then she has all kinds of other, programs that she, does. But I want to dive into your story and how you got started doing this because you did not start out, like you said, as a great artist and this was a journey that you took later in life and now have this amazingly successful business later in life.

So tell us about how that all came about.

Sandra Angelo: Yes, absolutely. So if you look at my list of credentials, you’d be blown away, and I’m kind of blown away. I can’t believe it myself, but I didn’t start there. I started as a really weak artist, and unfortunately, I went to school in the late 60s, early 70s, and they had just started to vomit paint and, put a urinal under plexiglass and frame rope and, duct tape a banana to the wall.

So they weren’t really concerned about Michelangelo and da Vinci and Degas and Monet and all that. And I wanted to learn that. So I graduated with a BA in fine art and I was legitimately a teacher, but I was terrible. Thank God I was better than my students and I kept working at it. Books and videos and trying to get better.

And it just wasn’t, I was going from mediocre to not quite so mediocre. And I am a perfectionist. So I like to win, and I like to be the best and I just didn’t know how to get there. So one day a miracle happened. I got this invitation in the mail from a world famous master and he was classically trained.

He was from Canada. And so he invited me into an apprenticeship program, a short apprenticeship. And at the time I wasn’t making a lot of money. I have a job where I had moved from Illinois to San Diego trying to get away from the snow. And I was hoping to be able to stay here. And the only job I could get was this horrible job where you travel 25, 000 miles a year, going from college to college to college, teaching people how to draw.

And all the people were adults. And so they had no background. They were doctors, lawyers, engineers, and they’d never had any art because they weren’t allowed to. They had to be on the college track and there was nothing for them. I mean, there was no books, no videos. They were having the same problem. I was, they were a little worse than me.

Thank God. but anyway, so I wasn’t making a lot. I was making 20, 000 a year pathetic. but it was worth it to stay in California and I got an invitation from this guy, the apprentice, and it took a bunch of, well, all of my savings to go, but oh, did that investment pay off? Cause like literally within months, I went from mediocre to winning top awards in corporate and private collections and earning thousands of dollars for my art from, really weak and mediocre to really amazing. And the reason that that happened was I’ve been struggling all that time and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. But the master pinpointed my mistakes and he’d spent 30 years. studying the masters and learning what books and methods and materials and, all the stuff that you needed to know.

So he kind of just gave me a pass to the head of the class, the head of the line. And I went on to become a world famous millionaire artist. And we’ll get into the credentials later, but what happened during that process was people started noticing because I mean, your students are polite. So they’re not going to say you’re not that much better than me, but I wasn’t, and all of a sudden I was amazing.

And they were like, what happened? I have to know how to do that. And so I started developing. A curriculum and testing it in the classroom, traveling school to school and all that, and I started figuring out what they needed to know by listening to their questions. But there were no books, no books for the non artist or the beginner, absolutely knows nothing.

And so I approached a major publisher to get my books published and I always like to be number one. So I went to number one art publisher, not only did they turn me down, but they plagiarized some of my work and no compensation there. And I decided. I’m going to leave that in the dust instead of a book.

I’m going to change it into a course. And here’s the crazy thing. Their payment would have been a dollar per book and bestsellers in the art world of 25, 000 copies. So the max I could have earned would have been 25, 000 for them. And instead that creation has made more than a million dollars, and it’s continuing to grow.

And so that was really good. No, what an important lesson I learned early in life is that No is a good answer. It just means you’re going in a different direction. So that was number one. And number two was, since I couldn’t get them to publish it, I decided, okay. I’m putting a Ziploc bag and I’m selling it for $10, and, and they bought it like crazy.

And then I earned enough money to get 500 copies made at Kinko’s. And so sold out in a weekend at a convention and it just started taking off and winning awards and I became a national magazine columnist. I started appearing at ABC’s Good Morning Texas HGTV, the Discovery Channel, I did five shows for TNN and so forth and I was, my fame was building.

And the Washington Post heard about me and they wrote a full page article. This was when I was 42, they wrote a full page article about my program. It’s not, it wasn’t a book anymore. It was a course and we literally, made more than six figures in a weekend. It was syndicated in 36 newspapers and it just.

Took off like a rocket. And so it was amazing and incredible. And I want you to know that there were five years of blood, sweat and tears and unbelievable humiliation from people who just. Brush me up like I was a gnat, and so I, I went on to amazing success but I want to just jump back a little bit about what it’s like to be a woman in business.

Okay. So when I was a little girl, 18 years old, I scored off the charts in a vocational guidance test in marketing, but they never mentioned it because women could be a mom, secretary, a nurse or a teacher, and I’m not good at the first three. And so, I chose teaching because it was my only option.

And so I, I ended up in a lab where I was really inventing what I was going to sell. Because I was learning what it takes by listening to what, what don’t they understand? What’s hard about this? How can I make it easier? And that’s how I became a specialist. And then of course, the working with older adults who are super smart, but they feel like an idiot when they’re in first grade again, I was able to put it in super simple language and take all the masters old concepts and put them into a streamlined system.

And so I ended up getting an MBA in marketing, scored off the charts when I was in my forties and And it had an amazing business, 17 years of success. And then on October 26, 2003, at 9 11 AM, my home and business burned along with 2, 500 homes in San Diego. It was called the San Diego Cedar fire. And so I lost all the masters from my books and videos, 900 pieces of art, 17 years worth of work, everything I needed to earn a living.

And there I was, at 53, starting over because I’d started back when I was in my late 30s. so anyway, so, I let’s see. So I decided, it was, it was gut wrenching. It was like being punched in the stomach, like where are you going, and then just the whole thing of trying to find a place to live and dealing with the government and thousands piles of paperwork.

And I hate paperwork, two years, solid stack this high, five feet tall, five foot seven. Was the stack of paperwork and I didn’t have time to cry. I just had to keep doing it. So two years later I laid beside that stack and cried for five hours because I needed to cry, and it was just grueling. So anyway, so that was all.

Going on. But here’s the cool thing. I’m a woman of faith. And for me, all things work together for good because I love the Lord. And so he makes sure that what was bad becomes good. And so just like that book deal that he shut off. No, that’s not the path I want you to go. I did not like that. But here’s the crazy thing.

After the fire, I Had time to rebuild my courses and I was better, so my art was good and I’d had tons of research and I could really make the courses much better. And not a coincidence, Facebook was invented. Right then in 2004. And this happened in 2003. And of course, it took them a while to figure things out.

And I ended up having to code to build my own website and, lots of Maalox and dark chocolate over that one. And then I, I stumbled onto Dan Kennedy, who is an amazing marketing genius, I he showed me how to take my content and turn it into courses. And so the minute Facebook opened up groups, I started hosting my courses in the groups because I now have customers in 49 countries.

Andrea Vahl: Because before your, before this all happened, your program was all in person. And it was all… Live people would come to you.

You would host it at a, at a space. And, and then you took everything online and you, you don’t do anything. Do you do any like, in person courses anymore? I know you work with people one on one, but do you?

Sandra Angelo: Yes, I do. For my inner circle, they get to come and spend time with me in what we call art spas, escape and, and they get this concentrated help. So, but it’s very select inner circle because I’m picky about who’s close to me, and so most of my customers are consuming this online. And here’s the thing, the fire forced me to get away from local. I have done a lot of national workshops and international, but I, I’ve gotten tired of traveling.

It loses its glamour, and so after 40 countries in 48 states, I wanted to stay and I was settled in San Diego, but I needed to be bigger. And so I almost feel like I need to apologize to the other 24, 900 people that lost their homes that. God had to burn my home so I could, obviously that wasn’t true.

But I, it took me higher, and one of the things that happened during the, and I’m going to talk later about how I deal with. Anxiety and stress. And when life doesn’t go the way you plan it, which is about 90% of the time and I, when I sat beside the rubble, it took us two days to get back in to see the mess.

And as far as I could see, there was ashes. It was just a gray, molten ashes. My books lay in ashes. My. Videos were twisted like molten sculptures and, everything I had worked for was right there in front of me as far as I could see just ugly gray. And then I looked up and I could see clouds and blue of the sky.

And like I said, I’m a woman of faith. So I said, I’m going to decide right now that the heavens declared the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork, so he’s still in charge. And so I’m going to declare I’m writing this on an envelope because that was the only thing I had to write on. And I said, I’m going to declare that this is going to take me higher.

I had to believe that, and it was hard. I’m not going to. paint this like it was easy. It was a hard path back. And part of the hardness was my internal changes. I had to change who I am in order to see that my gift wasn’t meant for me. It was meant for the world. And so that started me on that path where I began to share with the world.

And my first customer from the Norway, she’d been buying my books and videos in the mail and it costs her 50 every time she says worth it, but can’t just put it online. So that’s when I went to Facebook and I started videos and PDF files and stuff like that online. And I started a business that’s now in 49 countries and four continents.

But the fire was the gift. And here’s the thing. In Africa, I grew up in Africa, and we were the first white people in the Belgian Congo sea tree forest. And in Africa, they burn on purpose because ashes are really good fertilizer. And there’s a certain seed that will never pop above the soil unless it’s exposed to extreme heat.

And that was my seed. The fire was my seed, which is why I was forced out of my cocoon in my comfort zone because I’ve gotten kind of comfortable. And I now had to take this gift to the world because it wasn’t a gift for me. It was a gift for the world. And so, the fire was a really good catalyst for that.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that’s, that’s amazing. And that is like, when you can reframe it and I’m sure it wasn’t easy to reframe, but you know, I think that’s it. It’s, it’s, it’s happened, it’s passed. There’s no use in dwelling at it and just lamenting it. So, So deeply, I mean, obviously you can feel your feelings around it and know that it’s going to be hard, but to to be able to then see the gift in it, I think, is a huge thing because that propels you forward, takes you into the future rather than dwelling on the past.

Sandra Angelo: Yes. Adversity is a gift, if you choose to make it so, because I saw people who let the fire ruin them, and I saw people who let… The fire take them higher, so it is a choice. You have to choose to believe when it isn’t true, when it can’t be true, when it seems impossible. In fact, my whole business was built that way.

31 years ago, I sat down when I was so poor, you couldn’t believe it. And I wrote, I couldn’t afford a computer. So I was writing on a. a legal pad and I couldn’t afford a desk. So I had a cardboard, tattered cardboard table from Walmart. Or no, it was Kmart in those days. And I had a metal folding chair cause I couldn’t afford a regular chair.

And I wrote down, I’m going to be a world famous master. I’m going to be a bestselling author. I’m going to be an award winning producer. I’m going to be a millionaire. I’m going to be taking people from amateur to amazing and I’m going to be traveling the world creating art and culture tours for people who are curious about the creative people and I’m going to be in a studio with my pencils behind me, which is there.

They are. And I’m going to be in a room where I overlook the water. I now have a 280 degree view of the San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean and I wrote down everything that happened when I was really bad. I was a terrible artist. I’d never had a writing course. So the thought of being an author was a little preposterous, and I’d never had a producing course, I didn’t even know I could, but my first piece was nominated for an Emmy, and so all of this stuff was within me because there’s this voice.

That tells you why you were born, and who you’re supposed to serve. And I listened to the voice and I wrote it down and all of that stuff came true. Not without a rollercoaster ride.

Andrea Vahl: I love that. I love that. Well, the other interesting thing about your journey, I think that is amazing.

And I think that we need to, highlight just a little bit is the role of investing in yourself and investing in your marketing knowledge as well, because, you know, obviously you’re very good artist and everything like that, but you invested in marketing and in learning that so that you could grow and get your message out further.

And we met in, in Jeff Walker’s product launch well, it was actually a launch club where we met originally. So you were up there on the stage and I was just really inspired by your journey.

Sandra Angelo: so Jeff Walker changed my life because when Dan Kennedy taught me how to do the courses and everything, but then Jeff Walker taught me the marketing and I, I made every mistake you can think of.

And I was super small and tiny. But when I went to his first, I was one of the founding members of launch club. When. And I watched the people on stage. I said, that’s where I want to be. And within three years, I was in the top 10 and I had taken my gift and learned how to find the people who need it, and then began to serve them.

And then it was at his launch con that I learned about becoming a coach, and how important it is to do what that guy did for me, to help people. Buy a ticket for speed so that they can learn in days instead of decades. So now I coach, inner circle and apprentices one on one. you can get into the apprenticeship, but the inner circles by invitation only because I’m particular about who I work with. I want people who want to be good. And so that means you need to do the work and it’s, the work is fun, but it’s still, if you want to be a violinist, you have to practice the violin, and so, Jeff was where I learned that at LaunchCon, and then now I’m working with Barry and Blue, Barry Baumgarner and Blue Melnick who are really, really good at virtual because when 2020 happened, we all learned that we have to live in the virtual world, and so now I’m learning with them.

So yeah, it’s been super fun knowing you. And one of the things I love about this world is we meet, The incredible people like Andrea, we’ve known each other quite a while. We’ve watched each other’s journey. I’m here to support her. I love what she’s doing because don’t count us out, just because we’re over 50, watch yourself.

Way more than you do, and we’ve made all the mistakes and we know what not to do and We’re we don’t waste our time on things that don’t matter, you know We’re just clear about what you know matters and what doesn’t and so I love being this age I love being I don’t tell my age because we live in a Very ageist culture, but I’m over 50.

I’m going to get, and I don’t care that I am my age because my age doesn’t have anything to do with the way I behave. Occasionally it attacks me, but It’s a mindset issue. It’s a mindset of being wanting to give what you have to give so that the world is a better place because you were here, and I have seen huge transformations in my students, not just in their art, but you know, body, mind, and spirit, a guy who is bipolar had to work two jobs because he had so much manic energy and he called, he taught himself how to.

Draw from the Washington Post article and called me and said, you gave me my life back because I’m down to eight hours a day because I’m so calm, and another lady called and said she felt like she was a drug addict calling her pusher. She finished her course and she needed another one.

I said, that’s pretty drastic. What do you mean? And she says, well, my husband and baby have cancer. And so my life is grueling. But at the end of the day, I go in the studio with you. And you take me to a world where stress doesn’t exist. And that’s how I reboot so that I gain the creative energy that I need to move through this.

And there’s just been so many stories like that. And so it was about 10 years into my program that I realized that I’m healing as much as I’m teaching.

Andrea Vahl: Right. And that’s the amazing thing is when we are sharing our gifts with the world, you just have no idea the impact you’re going to have, even on people who are maybe just reading about something or, you, you don’t even know what you’re putting out there and how those seeds get planted in all these different people in magical ways. And, and just, I just feel like it’s when we’re creating from the deepest part of ourselves, that, that reason we’re here, that that, that joy that we get, that is just magnified. throughout, throughout the world. And it doesn’t matter what age you are. It doesn’t, who cares, who cares how old we are.

It’s makes me crazy that people say, I’m too old to learn that. Or I’m too old to start that. Or I’m, I was never a good artist. So I’m always never going to be a good artist. We can, we can make these big changes at any time.

Sandra Angelo: The first call I got after the Washington Post came out, cause I didn’t know it came out.

I didn’t realize they wrote about me. And I was on my way to a workshop and this lady said, hi, my name is Sadie Brown and I’m reading here in the Washington Post that you could teach anybody to draw. And I said, the Washington Post and she said, yes, I’m 92 and I’ve always wanted to learn to draw. I said, the Washington Post.

I said, if you’ll send me that, I’ll send you the course for free. And it, my oldest student right now is 97. She still walks three miles a day. She started at 70 and she’s became so famous that at 90 she was invited to a one woman show at a prestigious art center. 99% of my people are over 50 because a lot of women in our culture are taught.

You’re last on the list. First, your kids, then your husband, then your job, then everything in the house. And then you get to play, which there’s never a time for that. And so they come to me when that’s all off the list and they say, now, please teach me. I’ve always had this muse, but whenever she creates.

Her work looks ugly. It’s not like in my head and I need skills. So I give them the skills. So there are starts to match the ideas in their head. And it’s amazing. I have a guy who’s now a world famous millionaire with galleries in Bahamas. San Diego and Hawaii. I have others who’ve won top awards who, but most people are just drawing their grandkids and their puppy and their kitten, and they’re drawing one lady when she lost her husband, which is real common in my age group.

She’s got pulled out the. They’d been married 61 years and it was just gut wrenching because they had no kids and it was just him and so she pulled out their courtship photos and she’s all of a sudden giggles started mingling with the tears and it just happened the blow of grief. So art isn’t you can’t say this is going to happen to you.

I can’t predict. Or prescribe or whatever. I just give you the product and it does what it you need it to do for you. It comes from there and it gives you access to the right side of your brain, which is where your creativity center is. And it also just siphons off that anxiety so that when you come back to the world, suddenly you see solutions because stress turns into creative energy.

When you disappear for a while and that disappearance just kind of reboots the body, mind and spirit.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. Being, I think creativity and using our creativity is so good for us. And I, I, I just think there’s not even, we don’t even realize the depth. Of the, of the benefits that we can get when we’re, when we’re creative.

So. I’ll

Sandra Angelo: give you a first hand experience that happened this weekend. I forgot that about the serenity of art and all that, because my internet went down and I was in the middle of a course and I had to get it back up. So I spent a week and a half. With tech support. You know what? That’s it in hell. So full of anxiety that I started getting sick and I ended up in bed.

I couldn’t function because I wasn’t doing my normal routine. Normally I get up. spend time with God so I don’t have to run the world. And then I do my art and siphon off my anxiety. And then I feed my body and I move into what my list of things to do. And I wasn’t doing that. And I got physically sick from not siphoning off that pain on a daily basis because you really need to escape the world where there are no boogeyman.

When you sleep, you can have nightmares. You can toss and turn, you can grind your teeth, but when you go into the art zone, there are no boogeyman. You just forget that the world is there.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. Well, Sandra, this has been amazing. You are amazing. And I feel like I could talk about this all day with you, but I wanted to just also, I love to always close out our interviews with.

Your favorite quotes or inspirational sayings. What, what inspires you? Cause I love to hear that.

Sandra Angelo: Well, I just came across, I can’t, I must’ve been living under a rock because I’d never heard of her before, but Jamie Kernan, I can’t remember her last name, but yeah, Lima one of the things that she said really resonated with me.

And I’m not going to get this exactly right, but it was something like, rejection is God’s protection, and I would add the word add. Rejection is God’s direction because when you’re told no, that same company, by the way, came back to work with me many years later, and they got a teeny tiny portion of what they had turned down.

And so it’s. God sending you in the right direction. So don’t don’t get upset when you hear no, and then the next quote that kind of comes for me, and I’m I Haven’t memorized it. This is my own quote, and I haven’t memorized it yet, but During the time that I went through the fire aftermath I had to change who I am because you have to change who you are because before you can grow and become bigger You have to be bigger so that you can serve in a different way.

And when I was going through that time, God gave me 12 habits that when I practice them daily, they can take me from trial to instant triumph, instant. And When I practice those 12 habits, I can go from, feeling really awful to feeling okay with the world. And so I guess it’s kind of paraphrased in a book in the, in the Bible that says all things work together for good for those who love the Lord.

And who are called according to his purpose. And then my favorite is don’t worry about anything instead, pray about everything, tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him when he answers. And when you do that, the peace of God that passes understanding will keep your heart and mind quiet and at rest as you trust in him.

And so as I’ve learned to do that, and I’ve learned to follow these 12 habits, my life, just. It’s exploded in a quantum way and I’m living my dream, making other people live their dream.

Andrea Vahl: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And I think that’s, that’s a way to do it. It’s, serving others. And I think that just is, that just brings everyone to a higher path and, and I’m so excited for all that you are doing in the world and the way you’re impacting the world, the way you’re bringing art into the world and helping people of all ages, but especially the older population, but so let’s find out where share with people where they can find you. We will have all those links in the show notes, but just, I always like to make sure I Have people know where to find you if they’re listening in and can’t take notes right at that moment.

Sandra Angelo: Somebody hacked my Facebook groups Facebook. So I lost access to all that So the best way to get me right now, I am on Facebook in a new way Trying to rebuild that. But the best way is just to go to sandraangelo. com and sign up on my mailing list, and then you’ll get emails from me that, Facebook and Twitter and all these other social media platforms can’t destroy.

I had been on Facebook for 10 years and that blew up in my face. So, anyway, so yeah, sandraangelo. com don’t forget these two aces in the middle. And you’ll see whatever’s going on in my world will be offered on that page. And feel free to reach out to me, about this podcast. I am a hundred percent behind this, Andrea.

We need to show the world that women rock until we slide into first bait, into plate when we get. Robin, you don’t have to, you don’t have to let age stop you. Just keep going. Do what you were created to do because that keeps you alive and energetic and gives you a reason to bounce out of bed and to fall in bed with a good tired.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Well, thank you so much, Sandra. This has been amazing. And I know you’ve inspired my listeners and and I love what you’re doing. So

Sandra Angelo: thank you.

Thank you for inviting me, Andrea. Keep going. Yeah.

Andrea Vahl: Hope that was helpful and make sure you grab the free guide top tools for late starters on the website at late starters club. com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.

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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.

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