Teigan Margetts is the Co-Founder of Ethicool Books. Founded in March 2020, Ethicool is a publisher who creates beautiful children’s books about the world’s big issues and encourages kids to take action. Ethicool’s mission is to empower children to create a more sustainable and equitable world, so the books cover everything from recycling to gender equality to sharing and caring. All of Ethicool’s books are also sustainably produced, with the books printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink. Unlike other publishers, all of Ethicool’s books are sold online in an attempt to further reduce carbon emissions from warehousing, distribution and transport.
Ethicool was founded after Teigan initially created a children’s book to help her young sons remember their grandmother. The process made Teigan realise that there seemed to be few children’s books that were truly uplifting and inspiring. Knowing the importance of early literacy and wanting to make a meaningful difference, Teigan set out to change that. To date, Ethicool has sold more than 10,000 books in more than 15 countries, and has recently celebrated the exciting milestone of opening their US warehouse..
Besides Ethicool, Teigan loves spending time in nature and if she isn’t there, you’ll find her at her ballet studio, playing with her sons, or lost in a good book.
Where did the idea for Ethicool Books come from?
I very sadly lost my mum when my youngest son was five weeks old, and my eldest was two. To help the boys remember her, the first thing I did was create a children’s book. That book really seemed to contrast with all of the books we had which were about monsters, or farts, or honestly, about nothing at all. It got my husband and I thinking – wouldn’t be amazing if children’s books were that bit more meaningful?
From there, Ethicool was born! We’re also both deeply passionate about making the world a better place, which is why a lot of our books have sustainability and equality themes.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As a business owner, there is no 9-5, but on the plus side, I also have the flexibility to completely manage my time, which is such a wonderful blessing, especially with two young children!
Again as a business owner, you really have to be the jack of all trades. In a typical day, I would manage our marketing and PR, liaise with our 3PL (third party logistics team), and even chat to customers directly, which I think is really important in continuing to grow our company.
In terms of how to be productive, I’ve got a good old to-do list which I try to follow, but often certain things get sidelined! One thing I always try and do is focus on the easy things in the morning (I am not a morning person!) and then move to more challenging tasks when I feel I am able to complete them. I hate doing half of anything.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m an introvert so I often have my best ideas when I’m alone, doing something like walking my dog or sitting by myself having a coffee. If I have a good idea, like a story I’d like to write, or a promotional opportunity, I honestly try to action it straight away while I’m feeling excited about it. For example, one of my books, Simon and the Sad Salad, was drafted and sent off to an illustrator within 24 hours!
What’s one trend that excites you?
A few years ago, people were saying that Kindle book sales would far outstrip physical book sales. They haven’t, and that’s because, quite honestly, reading off a Kindle is not the same as reading a real book (especially for children, who get distracted easily and are not able to learn basic literacy skills as fast or effectively when reading on a screen).
You might call this an anti-trend, then, but I’m actually excited that physical books continue to sell in droves, despite technology’s best efforts. to change that.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Prior to founding Ethicool, I was a copywriter and journalist and honestly, it’s my ‘thing.’ I get into flow whenever I’m writing, and so much of my job now involves writing, so being productive isn’t very hard because I love what I do.
What advice would you give your younger self?
That’s a tough one as I think life is a journey and you might not arrive at the same destination if you don’t have certain experiences. But in general, appreciate your parents more, and maybe swap a few nights out for more time in nature and at the ballet studio.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That I’m a good driver.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make time for exercise. With a few exceptions, I do ballet or yoga every day, and doing so helps ground and inspire me, not to mention keep me fit.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The one strategy I think we’ve implemented well is test and learn. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we think our business should or could be, it matters what our customers think.
Fortunately, we live in the day and age of data, so we’ve been able to test everything from our product descriptions, to our website branding, to how we market books and who we partner with. This has been incredibly powerful, and also surprising. The vision I had for the business initially is totally different from what it is now, but that’s great – I’m glad we’re incorporating customer feedback into everything we do.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failure to date is people related, actually! As a publisher, we have onboarded quite a few authors, and invested significantly in bringing their books to life (for which they receive generous royalties). Initially, we chose authors based on the strength of their manuscript but as a small company, I’ve realised that I should have also considered the character of the authors.
To cut a long story short, one of our authors has pulled out, and this has cost us a substantial amount of money, not to mention the time and effort expended in bringing that book to life. In terms of how I overcame it, I have resolved to better get to know authors prior to publishing their work, as having them as partners and supporters on our journey is really important.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Could someone create a robot who would unpack my dishwasher, vacuum my floor and do my washing? I think parents everywhere would invest in that!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I love supporting fellow female founders, and just yesterday I found this really cool company that makes knit kits. I may (or may not) have knitted myself a jumper by the time winter rolls around!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Can I say Shopify? Our store is hosted on Shopify and it does everything. I love the data it gives me and how I can use that to make decisions.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love stories about inspiring females and I absolutely loved Know My Name by Chanel Miller this year. We’re all responsible for creating a more equal future for both men and women so we no longer need to have books like this!
What is your favorite quote?
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
- Always make time for yourself. Your business can’t thrive if you don’t
- It doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what the customer thinks
- Always sleep on it. It usually isn’t as bad as you think in the morning.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.