I broke a lot of rules because I didn't know the rules.
After graduating from Wells College in 1962, Rowland embarked on the first of several careers. From 1962 to 1968, she was a schoolteacher in several states. She was a news reporter and anchor for the ABC station KGO-TV from 1968 to 1971.
Rowland left that industry to pursue a career as a textbook Writer. For several years she was involved in writing and publishing children's textbooks. She was also the publisher of the Children's Magazine Guide. In the 1970s, Rowland created a comprehensive language arts program, called Beginning to Read, Write, and Listen. It was informally known as the "letterbooks", and designed to be used for kindergarten and first grade students. Through the years the program has undergone several revisions and updates.
She has been married to philanthropist Jerome Frautschi since 1977. Frautschi's family owns Webcrafters printing company.
In 1986 Rowland founded the Pleasant Company, which manufactures the "American Girl" dolls, books and accessories. Rowland was inspired to create the American Girl brand because of her longstanding interest in history. A visit to Colonial Williamsburg led her to think that young girls might become interested in history through identifying with dolls based on historic periods. Each doll is designed with a story that places it in a specific historical time period. Books, clothing and other accessories are marketed separately for each doll.
In 2001 Rowland purchased bankrupt retailer MacKenzie-Childs, based in Aurora, NY. After Rowland restructured the company's management team in 2006, MacKenzie-Childs became profitable. In 2008 Rowland sold MacKenzie-Childs to Lee Feldman and Howard Cohen – part owners of Twin Lakes Capital.
In 2004 Rowland founded Rowland Reading Foundation to promote the Rowland Reading Program.