Believe in yourself and take chances because essentially, you have nothing to lose so why not go for it!
Diana Lee Santamaria is a four-time award-winning author of a bilingual preschool children’s book series entitled DLee’s World. She independently published her books in 2014 and since then continues to grow her brand. She has been featured on Latina.com, El diario newspaper, El Reporte Hispano along with a variety of blog sites. Subsequently, she is not only a writer but an educator with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and over 9 years of teaching experience. As of 2015, she is the owner of DLee’s World, LLC, which sells children’s books and author services including readings, assemblies and public speaking engagements. For more information, please check out www.dleesworld.com.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The idea for DLee’s World started while I was working in the classroom. I had been an early childhood educator for about five years at the time. I would watch and analyze the children’s reactions as I read story after story, some being a hit and others being a miss. Since I always loved to dabble in the arts and struggled with illiteracy growing up, I had an idea that I could create stories that children would adore and be sure to engage with, incorporating some of their favorites elements- vibrant colors, bold characters, rhyme schemes, and repetition. As I thought back to my own childhood experiences, I reflected on a span of time where I felt bullied and wanted to ensure that I created a main character that was not the normal princess that I had seen in most storybooks I read growing up. Therefore, I decided to take a background character and bring her to the front lines. That’s how I created DLee. DLee the character is actually me when I was a young girl. I had a larger head and I wore very large glasses- the red ones being one of my favorite pairs. After focusing on DLee’s image, I also began to think about children’s books when I was young and how most did not represent Hispanic American people like myself. Resultantly, I decided to incorporate a diverse cast of characters that would be representative of the diversified cultures of children that I taught each year. Later, I designed the books to be bilingual including both English and Spanish translations on each page to help increase literacy and promote bilingual education.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Although I am an entrepreneur, I am also a full-time educator, therefore my typical day includes working from 8am-4pm as teacher, in which I sometimes use my lunch hour to respond to e-mails, create newsletters or flyers, do research, and take care of any business that is time sensitive. Once I get home I review my planner to see what I need to take care of for the day. I also ensure that I set aside about one hour three times a week for social media posts, research and overall brainstorming my next moves.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life one step at a time. Whether I am writing a new story or planning an event, I like to outline my ideas and do research to help me become more inspired. Then I work on the task piece by piece. I have learned throughout my experience to just take things one day at a time and if you continue to plug away, everything will fall into place somehow.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I have noticed that in 2018 there has been a trend in children’s literature including strong female characters! I look forward to continuing to watch this trend and hopefully one day have my character, DLee, become an inspiration to young readers worldwide.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, I stay focused through daily meditation, chants, use of a planner, and taking time to listen to uplifting audiobooks that fuel me with positive energy and an abundance of knowledge.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would encourage my younger self by saying, “Believe in yourself and take chances because essentially, you have nothing to lose so why not go for it!”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Sometimes I am my worst critic and doubt myself. There are times when I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough in this life however my family and friends beg to differ.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One thing I recommend to other entrepreneurs is to take part in some sort of daily meditation. I enjoy using meditation as a way to calm my mind and open myself up to what the universe has in store for me.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that has helped me grow my business is really just putting myself out there- meaning I host events and assemblies, attend conferences and large book events, and speak on panels. This allows me to network with people in the field and meet potential customers and valued supporters of DLee’s World.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of my failures as an entrepreneur is marketing my books and services as an author, educator, and public speaker. Although I have not fully overcome this battle, I continue to work to grow my brand through networking, constantly researching, attending conferences and large book events, submitting my books for awards, utilizing freelance services to outsource work and taking it one day at a time.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently invested in myself and enrolled in an animation course at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. It cost a little more than $100 dollars but it was worth every penny since my goal is to turn DLee into an educational and bilingual animated cartoon series.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use Wix.com for my website and to create e-mail blasts to send to fellow DLee supporters that I have gained over the years.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really enjoyed the book “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. Her book was really inspiring to me and made me feel like I could accomplish anything in this life as long as I believe.
What is your favorite quote?
One of my favorite quotes is “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams!” – Oprah Winfrey
- Take it one day at a time. Set aside specific days and times to work towards achieving your goal.
- If you have a dream, don’t hesitate, just go for it!
- Patience is key- things don’t always happen overnight.
- Believe in yourself!
- Don’t stress because things will always fall into place.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.