Tag Archives: inspiration

Inspirational mum Reem from Ossass-Stories.

July’s inspirational mum is Reem, author and publisher from Ossass-Stories.

 

What is your career background?

After studying English at university, I started working as a translator and researcher in Jerusalem, mainly with The New York Times. In 2006, when I was 26, the Israel-Lebanon war broke out, and I urged my boss to let me go to the frontline because I knew the area well. It was my first major journalistic assignment. I realised that being fluent in Arabic would be even more of an advantage in video than in print, so I taught myself how to film and edit video. In 2009 I started doing videos for The New York Times, going into the field, interviewing people, filming them, writing my own scripts and editing together the video reports. In 2012 I moved to New York, and was hired as a staff video journalist by The Wall Street Journal. I mainly covered Middle East affairs, the war in Syria and Iraq, the rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis.

 

How did your career change after having children?

I put my career on hold twice, both times after giving birth to my daughters. After my first, in 2011, I waited 9 months before going back to freelance video journalism, although I was able to do some translation before that. I really enjoyed being a mother, but I also loved my work as a journalist, and I was happy that I could be both. I was happier and more fulfilled, and although I had originally intended to stay at home longer to bring my daughter up bilingual in Arabic and English, it very quickly became clear that she was learning more words and language skills when she was at a nursery interacting with other children her own age and other adults. There was a similar pattern after my second daughter was born in New York in 2015. I left my job at The Wall Street Journal when I was 9 months pregnant, spent the first 18 months with her – and settling my family into a new life in London. I only recently started freelancing again, but I have spent the last few months working on building up my small business, which publishes Arabic books for children.

 

Where did the idea for your business come from?

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” Or, in my case, the mother who invented. Arabic has two registers: formal and colloquial. All books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes  – even for children – use the formal version of the language. That was very frustrating to me as a child, to read children, animals and cartoon characters talking like lawyers and newspaper editorials. When I became a mother I just couldn’t read those books out aloud to my children. So I decided to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. Things are changing in the Arab world – satellite television channels have familiarised people with other Arabic dialects, and social media has got people accustomed to the idea that it is all right to write as you speak. Other mothers and fathers in the Arab diaspora told me they felt the same, and that it was more important for their children to learn to speak to their grandparents and cousins than to struggle their way through high, formal Arabic texts.

I talked with my husband about this idea in March 2014 and we published our first book in December 2015. When I got the first actual solid book in my hands, it really was a huge feeling of achievement, an affirmation that we were doing something new, and a little bit revolutionary.

 

What drives you do what you do?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was always in the back of my mind, but I never really formulated a plan. But then the world changed around me and I realised that we were living in an era of mass migration of Arabs to Europe, America and elsewhere.

As someone who lives in the Arab diaspora I saw these new arrivals turn up – as a journalist I even went to interview some of them – and it became even more important to me that we should have a new children’s literature in Arabic, featuring the contemporary world. Our books feature a confident, outgoing young Arab girl who feels entirely at home in places like New York. Because it is her city. That is how our oldest daughter defines herself if anyone asks her where she is from: she says “I am from New York City.” I love that. And I want books that show Arabs living in the West comfortably, being an integral part of the scenery, fluent in the language and culture. It’s a passion to me.

 

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I was really surprised by how quickly an idea became a real product. It all started one evening in March 2014. I was frustrated after reading a bedtime story to my daughter in formal Arabic. I went to the living room and told my husband that I wanted to write children’s books in colloquial Arabic. It was a eureka moment, it was so obvious to me that this needed to be done, and I had no doubt in my heart or mind that I was going to do it. My husband was so positive, encouraging and very excited about the idea. I started with my research work that evening. I contacted an illustrator the next day after seeing his work on the internet. We found a lawyer to help us set up our own publishing house, we signed a contract with the illustrator two months later, and our first book was published a year and a half after the idea was born. We’ve just published our second book, and I couldn’t be prouder.

 

Who is your target audience?

Our books are mainly designed for Arab children living in the diaspora. But since we started selling, we have also seen interest from college and university students, who are studying colloquial Arabic, but can’t find books to practise it. The book is now on the shelves of public libraries in New York, Norway and Sweden, and in bookshops in cities around the world where there is an Arab community.Our books are for everyone who enjoys a good story. We’re even thinking to translate it into other languages, including English.

 

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Most of it is done on social media. We have a Facebook page, and Twitter and Instagram accounts. We also have people who subscribe to our emailed newsletters. We have held readings in schools and colleges and we have a pink business card in the shape of a bookmark that we send out with every book, and encourage people to tell a friend. We are right now preparing for an Arabic cultural street festival in New York – where we had a stall last year – and for our first one in London. I tell everyone I meet about our books, because I am very proud of it, and also I would like people to spread the word. It’s a lot of work.

 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

I think that there aren’t enough hours in the day to manage to be a mother and a business woman. There’s so much work to do when it’s your own business, every little decision from deciding the name of your company, to designing your logo, to choosing the paper thickness of the books, to writing the best promotional post on Facebook. Much of it is up to me, although my husband does help as much as he can while doing a full time job in journalism. Publishing involves a lot of back and forth with printers, smoothing out the text and pictures with the illustrator, and with the friends and colleagues who are more fluent in, say, the Egyptian dialect than I am. My husband and I both post the books personally – those sent from London, at least – which takes up time but provides an enormously satisfying moment when another envelope gets sent on its way.

 

So, I would say that time is my biggest obstacle. Being a mother to an 18-month-old toddler also means there are some feelings of guilt. Am I giving my younger daughter enough attention? But I also see that my older daughter is immensely proud to see her life chronicled in books that are – loosely – based on her life. And I am proud to see a small publishing house that started from nothing growing every day.

 

And your proudest moment/biggest success so far?

I think the happiest and proudest moment for me was when I first saw the first copy of our first book. I was 9 months pregnant, very heavy, and it was an incredibly emotional moment. We had worked for months on the story, the illustrations, the backstory, the rollout plan. It was more than anything a lesson that you can do anything with persistence, hard work and big dreams. Nothing beats the feeling of working for your own company. Seeing it all come together… it was almost like giving birth. But much less painful.

 

Who inspires you?

I admire ambitious women. I remember a few years ago I used to follow a New York Times video series featuring business women from different backgrounds who started from zero and built their business empires. And I remember so clearly looking at their stories and thinking “I want to do the same! I want to have an idea and turn it into a successful business model.”

NEWSFLASH
Reem will be appearing at some amazing cultural festivals over the summer. To find out more read her newsletter.
Full name: 

Reem Makhoul

Author and Publisher

 

Company: 

Ossass-Stories

(Publishing House | Children’s books in colloquial Arabic)

 

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OssassStories

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OssassStories

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/arabicbooksforchildren/

Website: www.Ossass-Stories.com

Emailcontact@Ossass-Stories.com

 

Inspirational Mum Kerstin from Natural Magic Wear

This month’s inspirational mum is Kersten of Natural Magic Wear. She sells clothing with uplifting, encouraging slogans and you help a charity into the bargain. The SUPERDAD© Shirts are perfect for Father’s Day and what is a full £10 of the prices goes to The CALMzone – Dedicated to preventing Male suicide in the UK. Suicide is now the single biggest killer in Males under 45 in the UK. Charity Number: 1110621 Being the nosey person I am I had to find out what drove her to do this, so, on to the interview…

What is your career background?

I started off working in a care home at the sweet age of 16. I served the little dears tea and coffee, and knew all their favourite biscuits as well as how many they preferred. I often heard about the ‘adventures’ they used to have back in their day, which always brought a smile and a giggle to my face. I moved on through customer service roles until getting married and having two children showed me the reason I never felt right in any of them: I was to have the most important job of all – to be a Mum.

How did your career change after having children?

I have to say, in all honesty, that I never had a ‘career’. The jobs I had were a means to an end and that was to live and enjoy life as best I can, being a single gal of 20, with my friends. Having children and getting married brought a sense of security and a strange familiarity, which has helped launch a career (you could say) helping others, just like my first job.

Where did the ideas for your business come from?

They grew from my passion for breastfeeding. Originally, I promoted and sold Pro-Breastfeeding slogan shirts and bags, but I watched the market grow deeply saturated. Also, my ideas were becoming noticed by others, so I knew I had to branch out. I saw a lot of self-hate and depression in mothers on Facebook, and I saw that many times I would comment “You are a SUPERMUM!” and it would lift their spirits, so an idea was born: Self-Love and Empowerment.


What drives you do what you do?

During the day we often forget ourselves amongst the hustle and bustle of dealing with life. Getting the kids to school, getting to work on time, making sure we go food shopping and I am home to get dinner on in time. Bath and bed, and the day is done. Where were you within today’s rush?

Self Care is important and has to be recognised as a step forward for good mental health. I am committed to helping charities as well as raising the standards for self-love and empowerment. Our designs help a whole range of charities and our Instagram actively promotes self care and teaches how we can look inside ourselves to better care for our inner beings, so we may become better Mums, Dads and Humans to the people around us.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

Luckily, I already had the products and printing machine that is my friend Mr B., and I simply set to work designing and setting up Instagram and Twitter accounts to start ‘getting out there’. Social media can either be your friend or your worst enemy and so far I’ve seen both.

Who is your target audience?
Everyone. No one is above being sent some positive vibes and some love. We need more in this World.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
Word of mouth is my biggest gift. I love to talk and listen to others and help where I can. the next comes social media with the likes of Facebook and Instagram being my biggest too.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest obstacle is the fear and worry inside myself that I shall fail and not succeed at my goals. It rises up when you see a picture on Instagram similar to your own and it has more likes and comments on perhaps, or you email so many people and weeks pass and no one returns the letters. It can be very disheartening, but when one person sends you a note from an order saying how happy the shirt made them, or that one day they are feeling emotional, they wear that shirt and it empowers them to push through the fog and make sunshine in their day.

And your proudest moment/biggest success so far?
Most proudest is perhaps having Angela Womb Warrior like some pictures of mine. She hasn’t done for a long time now but I loved that. And my biggest success……..lets just see if they email back first.


Who inspires you?
The Women out there in the World – The Matriarchs of the Family, the Men supporting their families and the tiny humans we have at our sides. Seeing their achievements and their dreams come to life pushes me to make sure my family feels so much love and happiness they could combust in a shower of glitter. I inspire to be better because my family make me want to shine among the stars.

Want to see more of Kersin’s products?
www.etsy.com/shop/naturalmagicwear
www.instagram.com/naturalmagicwear
www.Facebook.com/NaturalMagicWear

If you think you are an inspirational mum and would like to be featured on the blog, get in touch.

Inspirational mum Kerry from Discovery Bubbas

This months inspirational mum is Kerry from Discovery Bubbas.

Hi Kerri, could you tell us a little about yourself.

I am a mummy to one 2.5 year old girl and a wife to a musical and hard working man. I was a nursery nurse prior to having my little one, so I am qualified and experienced in childcare and early years education, I initially took up some nannying when my daughter was 11 months old which was lovely because I could take her with me and she became friends with the families own little girl, but I stopped the nannying because I was at the same time just developing my ideas and starting up my Discovery bubbas group- which is sensory, messy exploration and creative play sessions. I decided to set up and run these type of sessions because I love it, all of that kind of play was my favourite thing to plan for and watch the children enjoy during my nursery nurse career. It is so beneficial to their development as it links in with many areas in the EYFS- EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE. It is very well known and widely researched that creative play, art and the freedom to explore and express themselves is great for a child’s individual way of learning and their current play and learning patterns or ‘schemas’.

How did your business come about?
I had the idea of setting up a messy play type group quite a few years ago, whilst I was still a nursery nurse
But the time just was never ‘right’,but once I had my daughter I just knew I didn’t want to go back to a ‘normal job and my husband and I agreed that I should be there for her and not put her in someone else’s care, especially if it meant me returning to doing just that but for other people’s kids, that just did not make sense to us, me looking after other kids whilst our precious little one was being looked after by someone else? No sense in that! anyway, I started thinking about this messy play group idea again whilst on maternity leave and the more I thought about it and the more ideas I wrote down,I knew I had to just go for it and do it. I started to get resources and equipment in here and there whilst I did the bit nannying and with some help from my mother in law I set up and started running Discovery bubbas at the end of Feb 2016. What I love the most about running the sessions is not only can my daughter come along with me and get the benefits from the sessions herself too but I just LOVE it, from the planning of session activities and seeing all the ‘little Discovery bubbas’ enjoying it and reaping the benefits and learning whilst having fun. The sessions are suitable for and mainly aimed at little ones from approx 6 months to 5 years, it’s a stay and play session which means parents/carers are to stay and join in the discovery fun with their little ones.

I am currently just making plans for this new year to start running some separate sessions for older children 6+ during school breaks, these will be; Discovery kids- STEAM (science,tech,engineering,art, math) club, this is a hands on mixed activities workshop which incorporates the STEAM concept/education system.
I am also planning to put together a range of ‘little discoverers’ activity kits, including busy bags, Mini STEAM challenge kits, ‘create, make and do at home kits’, tinker/DISCOVERY boxes and more.

How do you market your group?
I mainly use Facebook to advertise and promote Discovery bubbas,I have given out flyers but Facebook is working fine for me at the moment, I am listed on some kids activity directories and bloggers sites like Sophia’s diary and I have noticed an increase in page likes since listing on there. I do find that word of mouth and people recommending and reviewing my sessions helps a great deal, I have had new people come to sessions after being told about them by a friend.

What is your biggest success so far?

My best moment or session so far just has to be the special ChristMESS session I did on 12th December, I raised £50 for Herts young homeless and put together a kindness care basket from donations I asked people to bring to put in it and as there was a lot donated I split it, half to Herts young homeless and half went to the St Albans and hertsmere women’s refuge. I also had Mickey and Minnie Mouse come visit near the end of the session which was great.

Who inspires you?
My dad has been my biggest inspiration when it comes to working hard and to try things out, to see the funny side of life and to be honest and kind, he did and still does work hard to provide for his family and that instilled in me the drive to always value whatever ‘work’ I did and do, it just so turns out that I followed a path which has now lead me to set up my own little venture doing something I enjoy and it makes a difference by enhancing and promoting children’s development. Of course my daughter, my little star, is also my biggest inspiration, do it all for her.

What advice would you give to anyone out there thinking of setting up their own business?
My advice to anyone thinking about setting up a similar class or any other type of class or little business, is to just ‘go for it’, do your research, talk to people and just do it!

Thanks Kerri, it’s been a joy to chat to you!

If you want to find out more about Kerri’s Discovery bubbas sessions check out.
Facebook.com/discoverybubbas and Discoverybubbas.webs.com