I searched for books with characters who looked like her. I was alarmed by the lack of diversity in kids’ books and toys. Therefore, it became my mission to ensure that my daughter, who is the muse for the main character, Philly, has books that feature children that look like her. I started Philly & Friends, a diverse children’s brand that creates picture books, wall art, and toys that instil confidence and self-love in our little ones. It’s my gift to her and kids all over the world because representation matters. I believe you have to be the change you want to see. If you can’t find it, create it.
My brand has a purpose at the centre. I am passionate about raising confident kids, and every product we design has that as its foundation. We are also excited about giving back and for every book sold, we sponsor a book into the hands of an underprivileged child. We want to give the gift of literacy to those who are least likely to afford it.
Self-publishing has to be the greatest challenge I have encountered. I had to teach myself everything, figure out each step involved in publishing a book and self-fund the project. Self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted, and it requires a lot of financial, mental and physical investment. You are the writer, marketer, producer, salesperson, logistics, supply chain manager; you are everything. There were many times I wanted to give up, but I am glad I didn’t because the feedback, support and appreciation for the book have been nothing short of amazing. I honestly never expected it to have this much impact.
I’m watching the brand evolve in ways I never imagined. I don’t know where Philly & Friends will take me. The only thing I’m sure of is we want to change lives and will endeavour to continue to do so.