Founder & President - Knowledge is Capital Publishing and Educational Programs
Describe your company, product or service, business location and number of employees, and years in business.
Knowledge is Capital Publishing and Educational Programs is an educational omni media corporation that focuses on providing learners of all ages with upbeat and interesting media and educational programming that focuses on multiple aspects of teaching, learning, and knowledge acquisition.
Tell Us About Your Company
Why did you start this company and when?
I created the company after the passing of my father. He was an elementary school custodian in a nearby town, and he always encouraged us to learn as much as we can, because his parents could not afford to send him to high school after the 8th grade. I decided to create a company that provided kids with access to opportunities to learn about the world around them, in honor of his memory and to encourage my children to have a passion for learning.
What kind of corporation is your business? And why?
My company is an ‘S’ corp. I started the company on my own and wanted the flexibility to hire contractors/consultants until I could grow my business.
Did you have an “Aha” moment that made you write your first book?
When I decided to write my first book, A Visit to The Bahamas from A to Z, I realized that there was a larger market for other products beside books, so I began to think about what other products/services I could offer families and kids who had a passion for learning. Additionally, my experience in K-12 and higher education made me realize that I am uniquely qualified to help kids and families increase their child’s cultural capital, so that they can take full advantage of educational opportunities post K-12.
How did you come up with the company name?
The first time I took my eldest child to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, NY, I remember standing in front of Van Gogh’s “Irises” with my kid in a forward-facing harness. I just stood there and realized that even as an infant, the colors and the shapes fascinated them. This was back in the mid-1990’s when parents did not take infants to the museum. I remember the unwelcome stares I got from museum goers for bringing an infant to the museum. It did not bother me because I was determined to expose my child to art and music at an early age. I also started doing research into the importance of sharing the arts with children at an early age, and was fascinated by the impact early language development, and visual stimulation can have on a child. Also, because I studied bilingual/bicultural education, I wanted the company name to reflect my belief in the power of understanding and appreciating other languages and cultures other than your own. Additionally, I wanted the name of my company to reflect how the acquisition of knowledge or education can help to increase your ability to earn a living wage.
What were your initial goals?
Initially, my goal was to write and publish a children’s book about The Bahamas. Over time, I have been called on to help kids with interview skills, etiquette, and college admission essays, and will continue to provide these services in order to help young people achieve their goals.
Tell Us About Yourself
Describe yourself and your family
I am a first-generation Bahamian-American. I was born and raised in Glen Rock, NJ. I am a graduate of Colgate University, and Teachers College, Columbia University.
I am the mother of three adults who range in age from 20-25 years of age. I have been married to my husband for 27 years. We met on a college study group to Spain in the late 1980’s and have been friends for 35 years.
I enjoy cooking, studying international languages, and traveling. I also enjoy doing historical research.
What is your background and how does it relate to your company?
As a kid, I fell in love with learning words. I loved to read and my mom read to me very often when I was little. She always said I was very curious and would go to great lengths to satisfy my curiosity. Sesame Street was my favorite show which introduced me to the Spanish language. I ended up majoring in Spanish in college and continue to speak it with my husband at home. I created the company to help curious kids learn more about the world around them, because a curious mind seeks out knowledge.
What was your past career, and did you ever dream of being an entrepreneur?
I currently work full time as an assistant director for alumni relations at a university. I started my company over a decade ago as a passion project and as a way to generate extra income. Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My maternal grandfather was a tailor who immigrated to The Bahamas from Barbados. My parents owned a small catering company when I was growing up, so we always helped in any way we could when my parents had catering opportunities. Watching my parents and hearing stories about my grandfather made me realize that entrepreneurship is for anyone who wishes to share their product or service with others who have a need for their product of service.
Did you experience an epiphany that changed the direction of your life to where you are now?
Life is a process. As I got older, and my children became more independent, I decided it was time to fulfill my dream of becoming a children’s book author. I think as women, we are so busy trying to help and please others, we sometimes forget that we have goals and dreams that we need to fulfill for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with pursuing our own goals. There has to be a balance between taking care of others and taking care of ourselves too.
How did you test out your book so you knew people would buy it?
I read drafts of the book to my kids and got their feedback. I also took my manuscript to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conferences and local critique groups to get feedback from other writers. I also asked Bahamian historians and government officials to review my manuscript to ensure the historical accuracy of the facts I shared in my book. Additionally, I did a lot of research on the children’s book market.
What process did you follow to publish your book?
I read many books about publishing and the publishing process. I created my process based upon what I read and from speaking to individuals who are self-published authors.
Were there any setbacks in product development that had to be overcome?
Yes. Finding the right illustrator and finding the capital to publish the book.
Was it more expensive to create than you originally thought?
Going into this project, I knew that it was going to be expensive. My project from inception to print took 14 years. Printing costs have increased tremendously since 2006, which had an impact on the selling price of the book.
How did you determine the price?
I added up the cost of the research, editing, illustrating, and printing, to determine the price. Public relations, marketing, website development, and other costs had to be considered as well when determining the selling price. I knew that I wanted to create a high quality, hardcover book, so the price reflects my desire to share a quality product with my potential customers and readers.
Did you personally finance your company – or did you have an investor?
My eldest child was an early investor. Several friends also invested in my book project and I am eternally grateful to them. I also ran a small fundraising campaign. To complete the final phase of the project, I took loans from my retirement savings. I am really glad that I had that as an option.
Did you ever pitch your business to an investor? If so, what was the result?
I did not pitch my business to an investor because this was my first project and product.
Were you right on target for your startup costs – or did you exceed your initial financial needs?
For the most part I was on target with regard to budgeting for startup costs. I did my project in phases - purchasing what I needed as I had the funding to pay for it.
Through what markets are you selling (retail, wholesale, internet, specialty sales)?
My book is for sale on-line through the publishing company, Knowledge is Capital. My product is not available on Amazon.
How did you introduce buyers to your book?
My illustrator and I did a virtual book launch on Facebook this past summer. We also had our first book signing in Maine this past summer as well. Our family, friends, and colleagues have been very supportive. We have met many people who have visited The Bahamas who purchased the book because they love the country. We also have customers who want to learn more about The Bahamas before they travel to the islands who purchase the book as well.
What secrets have you learned in terms of publicity and marketing your book?
Your personal networks are extremely helpful when it comes to sharing information about your product. Social media is a very powerful tool and can be helpful when it comes to marketing. But making connections with people by mail, phone or other “low tech”, “old school” methods are also important. A combination of several approaches has been helpful to me in terms of selling our book.
What was the biggest learning curve in terms of marketing your book?
Because our book is not on Amazon, we have to be creative when it comes to marketing and selling our book. I have to say, I really enjoy making connections and meeting new people who are interested in The Bahamas or just want to support a new indie author.
Time Management & Personal Needs
How long did it take to get your book/company from idea to market (conception to product launch)?
I drafted the book in 2006. Started working with my illustrator in 2017. Printed and published in August of 2020. I worked on the book in phases, and I was very happy that I was able to find such a talented illustrator who understood and supported my vision.
What parts of the business did you decide to delegate to employees?
Because I am a sole proprietorship, I do not have employees. I hired a freelance editor and an illustrator. I found a printing company that could print a high quality, 80-page hardcover book. I also hired a public relations professional to help with marketing and outreach.
How have you managed to juggle the roles of business owner and family/personal life?
When you manage a full-time job and a small business, you have to budget your time wisely. Luckily, my sons and my husband are self-sufficient and are also really good cooks! Any free time on the weekend is dedicated to errands and tasks related to operating my business. During the week, any free time after 7:00 p.m. I use to focus on tasks related to operating the business.
What kind of support system do you have in place personally and professionally?
My sons and my husband are my support system as they are all going to school and working from home because of the pandemic.
What are your hours?
I work from 9-5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. I work on my small business from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. most weeknights and on weekends.
How do you balance your family’s needs and your own?
Time management is key. My sons are self-sufficient and so is my husband so that really makes it easier to focus on my work. Some days, they make me lunch and dinner and bring it to me at my desk. I still have to do my own laundry, though.
What drives you to keep going every day?
Knowing that my parents' investment in me and my education and experiences are paying dividends.
When you need a break, what is your go-to activity?
I make a cup of tea and look out of the window. Sometimes when I have more time, I will take a walk around the block. I also like to check my social media accounts.
How much vacation do you take?
I take a few days off in the summer. It is harder to plan a vacation during the fall/spring because of the academic calendar.
Your Journey and Success Stories
What has been your greatest success or "high point" in the process?
Sending the final manuscript for “A Visit to The Bahamas from A to Z” to the printer in June 2020.
Have you experienced a “low point” and if so, how did you rally yourself to get back on track?
After my dad passed away, there were times when it was hard to get motivated to write. I realized that he would want me to finish the project as he was one of my greatest cheerleaders.
Did you expect as many challenges – personally and professionally – being an entrepreneur?
Life is challenging. Being an entrepreneur is challenging. Facing challenges presents opportunities to create solutions. That’s what keeps you going and makes the journey of entrepreneurship interesting and exciting.
Were there more financial challenges and risks than you expected?
I had done a considerable amount of research into what I would need to structure the business, who I would need help from and the cost of the goods and services I would need to complete the project. Some things were more expensive than I anticipated, but I would wait until I could afford to pay for them or I found a less expensive, but good quality substitute.
What was the greatest surprise in the process?
The importance of marketing. You can have the greatest idea or product, if you don’t invest in marketing, your product will not get the sales you think it deserves.
Who has been your biggest source of inspiration?
My mother. She trained as a registered nurse and immigrated to the United States in her mid-thirties. She is a wise and kind woman who had great hopes for me and my siblings. She was also very tough, but as a parent myself, I am glad she raised me the way she did. She taught me the value of exposing kids to various activities at a young age (reading, music, sports, travel), and she and my dad made a lot of sacrifices to make sure that we participated in activities outside of the classroom which gave us the confidence to go anywhere and do anything we set our mind to achieve.
Did anyone help you along the way?
Lots of friends volunteered professional services and advice that helped me to establish my business. My kids encouraged me to complete my book and publish it too. My Aunt Rosie in The Bahamas was very supportive as well. She would send reference materials and refer me to friends who were instrumental in completing my research for the book. I am most indebted to my illustrator, RJ Jenkins for believing in the vision and mission of this book.
How does your family feel about your business?
They know it’s important to me and give me the time and space to work on the business. They are glad that I completed the book.
If you work alone, do you miss the connection with others - and if so, how do you build a work community?
I like to network using social media. Virtual calls are also important. I think we all are learning new ways to connect with others outside of our family circles because social media and virtual platforms erase time and geographic borders.
Our team - editor, illustrator and I - managed to complete the project by virtual means because of the pandemic. We also relied on the postal service to share physical copies of the manuscript and other correspondence.