This week's next Spotlight Mom wears many hats. Not only is she a mom to two adult children, but she is also accountant by day and children's fiction author by night (and weekends).
As the daughter of a single parent who worked for a major airline, Lisa's exposure to (and interest in) travel began at an early age. Later in life, as Lisa's own children grew up and her love of animals continued, the idea for the Bella and Harry series was born.
The series was developed with the hope of inspiring young readers to embrace the world and encourage its exploration. Done through the comedic and informative adventures of Bella and Harry, while traveling through various countries, Lisa hopes to stimulate children's imaginations and foster a thirst for understanding the world in which they live."
Please enjoy my Spotlight on Mom interview with Lisa Manzione, author of "The Bella and Harry" series. And, I hope you take a look at her books when you are done reading the interview, as they would make for great gift ideas this upcoming holiday season.
Name: Lisa Manzione
Company Name/Product/Service: The Adventures of Bella and Harry
Company Location: Delray Beach, FL
Company Website: www.BellaAndHarry.com
Age of Company: 1 yr.
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: “Never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.”
Favorite Book: James Patterson. I enjoy reading the books related to the Women’s Murder Club.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How many children do you have? What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.
I am a full time resident of the Sunshine State…Florida. I have two children (25 and 23), both born and raised in the Florida, and both are currently attending college. My favorite hobby is spending time with my “pups” (I have seven dogs, 3 Labrador Retrievers and 4 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels) and of course, writing the Bella and Harry series!
Briefly explain your business. How did it come about?
About 5 years ago I realized most US children are geographically challenged. Sadly, geography has fallen to the wayside in our school systems. I thought the idea of two cute pups traveling with world, would be a good way to introduce youngsters to geography. My hope is that the series will stimulate their minds and create a desire to learn more about the world in which we live.
What is a typical work day like?
Currently, I still have my “day job” and I work on developing the series during in the evenings and weekends…so, my work day is LONG!
What has been a struggle while starting up your company?
I believe the major struggle has been getting major retailers to consider the series. I have found most larger retailers only want to deal with large publishers. It has taken persistence, but I am happy to say, we now have major distribution throughout the US, Canada and France. Currently, I am working with a major distributor in England and hope to solidify the relationship by the end of this year.
What did you do in your past work life?
As I mentioned, I still have a full time job. I have been an accountant for over 20 years and still spend forty hours a week counting beans!
What have been some of your major successes?
We are happy to announce all six of the current books have been awarded “The Mom’s Choice Award”. We consider this a major success, as the Mom’s Choice Program represents quality, family friendly products. We are also extremely excited to announce the entire series will be part of the “Reading Rainbow” program.
What have been some of your major challenges?
The biggest challenge..TIME! There is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything that needs to be done.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
On those days when “time” is running short, my motivation is the love of the series. The series has been received in a positive fashion and the idea that children are learning about different customs and cultures, from this series, is truly rewarding.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
Organization is the key! Knowing what, when and where helps keep the day in order.
What is next for your business?
The next step is to secure a position in the school curriculum where the books are used not only for fun, but for education as well. There are lesson plans that accompany each book for no charge, just to help with the learning process. You can download them at www.bellaandharry.com.
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?
Don’t let anyone discourage your dream! I can’t tell you how many people laughed at my idea. In one year, we have completed six books and sold in excess of 50,000 books throughout the US, Canada and France. Anything is possible, as long as you believe in yourself!