[quote style=”boxed”]Lean In by Sheryl Sanders is a thought-provoking book that every woman in business should read then pass to their husband, partner, and boss.[/quote]
Kelly Mistry is the owner and founder of MyFairyTaleBooks – a personalized children’s gift company. Launched in 2009, the business began as a reseller for licensed, personalized books, CDs and DVDs including popular characters such as Elmo, Superman, Disney Princesses and more. The company has evolved to expand their product offerings as well as publish their own exclusive personalized book titles including the award winning A to Z and The Good Friend.
What are you working on right now?
This fall we are launching our latest exclusive personalized children’s book titled, Counting Party. We are very excited to bring another educational book to market that has an adorable main character illustrated by Denise Bosler.
Where did the idea for MyFairyTaleBooks come from?
One holiday season I took on a side job with a personalized children’s book company to make a little extra holiday cash. I realized the joy that personalized children’s books brought customers and since my seasonal job was concluding I contemplated whether this would be a viable business I could start on my own. The reseller market for licensed personalized children’s books was saturated, but we decided to start with that foundation with the end goal of publishing our own exclusive personalized storybooks. Personalized Children’s Books become heirlooms in a family’s library and we’re so happy to be able to deliver smiles from generation to generation with books that we’ve created from scratch.
How do you make money?
MyFairyTaleBooks is an ecommerce business that makes money on margin from each of our product units.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day for me includes checking on any customer service inquiries (we pride ourselves on speedy responses!), processing orders and ensuring appropriate shipment. On a weekly basis we meet as a company to discuss marketing strategies, new business development and to review concepts, manuscripts and illustrations for new products.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ve been servicing the personalized children’s gift customers for a while now and feel that I understand what they like, what they want and what is missing in the market place. I surround myself with a creative team who can bring my vision to fruition.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Carolyn Brodie, President of the Association of Library Services to Children mentions that one of the 2013 Children’s Literature Trends is the topic of bullying. Parents, Grandparents, and Educators need valuable tools to combat bullying. We tackle this issue in a sensitive, age-appropriate manner in one of our exclusive titles, The Good Friend. The story at its core is one of friendship, what makes a good friend and how to instill strong character in our children. MyFairyTaleBooks has been named a PACER Organization Champion and have pledged to donate 10% of all October sales of The Good Friend to PACER to support anti-bullying initiatives.
We are also pleased to share that Creative Child Magazine awarded The Good Friend a 2013 Preferred Choice Award.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked in a retail store in college that worked on commission. It was more of an “every man for himself” type thing instead of a working team/family that worked for a common goal. It made for a very unhappy work environment.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were to start MyFairyTaleBooks all over again I would have chosen a different brand name. When we started in 2009 we were exclusively selling books. Now we offer many personalized gift items including puzzles, placemats and bookmarks with plans to expand into even further categories. We have such strong brand recognition with our customers that we are hesitant to make too many bold changes to our identity, but we’ve taken subtle steps to share the news that we’re no longer just books!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
We monitor our search engine ranking daily. It’s important to know where you stand, especially with the increased challenges that Google’s new algorithms have presented. Study your Google Analytics and adjust strategies accordingly.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I consider my biggest failure to be allowing fear to cloud my risk-taking. Our business could be a lot further along if we had expanded our product offering sooner. I have learned from this and know that when I want something, I have to take the steps and just do it!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have a 5 year old daughter so I’m surrounded by a lot of children’s accessories. Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of retro products come back around again. Slap bracelets (popular in the late 80s/early 90s) are becoming the rage again and I can’t help but wonder what other 1980s product can be reinvented to create a 2014 phenomenon.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
As our daughter begins her elementary school career we’ve been strongly impacted by a sad statistic: Every 7 minutes a child is bullied. As parents we strongly advocate for anti-bullying initiatives and have high hopes for improved educational tools to be available in every school system to eradicate this problem.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I do not like to fly!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Basecamp is a fantastic project management tool that fosters communication and collaboration between business partners.
We often use DropBox to review files from our Illustrator. It’s easy to navigate and free at the lower package levels.
Kickstarter was a great resource for us when we were raising funds for The Good Friend. We ran a successful crowdsourced campaign and met 102% of our goal!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Lean In by Sheryl Sanders is a thought-provoking book that every woman in business should read then pass to their husband, partner, and boss.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Jill Salzman is a spunky entrepreneur, founder of The Founding Moms and an inspiration to other female business women.
Leslie is the Blog Owner and Editor of Leslie Loves Veggies. She has been a great brand advocate for MyFairyTaleBooks from inception.
Denise Bosler is the talented Illustrator of our most recent book, Counting Party. She is a Professor and the Author of Mastering Type: The Essential Guide to Typography for Print and Web Design
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I guarantee the last time I laughed out loud was in direct correlation to something my Kindergartner said. She keeps us on our toes!
Who is your hero?
He’ll laugh when he reads this, but my husband and business partner. We make a great team even if we don’t always agree!
What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Maintaining a work-life balance is hard, but one of our top priorities as a family. We want to teach our daughter the importance of working hard, but we also want to be sure that we have enough fun time to play hard as well! Last summer we took our first vacation since launching our business back in 2009. It was long overdue, but not possible without help from trustworthy staff that could help us keep customers serviced while we enjoyed a few days away.
You mention your daughter, how does she inspire you?
Maya inspires us every day. We read her the manuscript for The Good Friend to ensure that she connected with the storyline, and we always look at our product offering and ask ourselves if these are products that we would want for our child.
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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.