Monday, May 20, 2013

Spotlight on Mom -- Amanda Kleback of The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, LLC

 Synopsis of Book:

"Readers follow Butter Chuck through his transformation from a woodchuck with low self-esteem to a beautiful Butter Chuck proud of his differences. The story is perfectly accentuated by the illustrations of Nikki Roquet, whose use of bold colors and exquisite artistry gracefully flow from page to page. A perfect book for every child, Butter Chuck can help any child embrace their differences and be proud of who they are."


I love stumbling upon new children's authors and their books, to share with my girls.  And, it makes it even more special when I learn that they are also mom or dad entrepreneurs.  This was the case with this week's Spotlight Mom, Amanda Kleback, of "The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, LLC."  Amanda's newest release, "Butter Chuck," is a wonderful book to share with young children, as well as use as a beginner book for early readers. Children will not only enjoy the story and beautiful illustrations, but they will also learn to embrace their differences, as this is what makes them unique.  

Amanda was kind enough to send along her new book, and cute 12 inch Butter Chuck plush for me to share with the girls.  Savannah grabbed for the book, while my snuggler, Arabella, happily accepted the cute Butter Chuck, as she gave it a great big hug and kiss.  :-)  This book has become a staple in our daily readings --either in the afternoon or at bedtime.  While the girls may be a little young to understand the true purpose of this story, I always make a point to talk about how they are different from others, but this is what makes them so special -- and, that they should embrace their differences and not let others make them feel bad about these differences.  I will continue to share this book with my girls, as they grow, and when they begin to experience peer pressure in school, as it will make for talking about their differences that much easier.  I am so happy I stumbled across Amanda Kleback, and had a chance to not only read her book and share her cute plush Butter Chuck with the girls, but also because she took time out of her busy schedule to respond to my Spotlight on Mom questions, so that I can share my interview with her today on my blog.  Enjoy!

Make sure you head back here on Friday, when I will give one lucky reader a chance to win a signed copy of Butter Chuck, along with the cute and cuddly 12 inch plush Butter Chuck, to share with their children/grandchildren. 

Name: Amanda Kleback

Company Name/Product/Service: The Hoo Hoo the Bear Company, LLC

Company Location: Whiteford, MD  

Company Website:

Twitter Handle: @ hoohoothebear

Age of Company: 2 years

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How many children do you have? What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.

I am a mechanical engineer with a degree from The University of MD. I paid for my education as a railroad car man (I fixed RR cars!) and a certified welder. I even did a tour in Afghanistan with the United States Army as a civilian Mechanical Engineer (in 2011).

Now, I have two wonderful mischievous (children, boy, Sam-age 5 and Maddy, girl-age 3) and a VERY supportive great husband, Brian.  We live on a farm in Maryland, where we raise bees, chickens, goats, horses, my parents, sheep, rabbits, etc... And yes, the partridge is on back order- we already have the pear tree.

Briefly explain your business. How did it come about?

I found my inspiration for Hoo Hoo the Bear reflecting on my childhood. As a family, we moved A LOT! I was always the new kid and wore very Handed down clothing. I did not have many friends, but I always had the one truest friend that went everywhere with me, my teddy bear.

I wanted to be able to provide and share that same thing to every child, hence- Hoo Hoo the Bear and his first story.  I immediately noticed the stigma to self-published authors (which is unfortunate) but I self-published anyway.  During a book signing I was noticed by a small publisher and picked up.  While self-published and by a publisher, I felt “held back” by the price of my book: at the time $12.95 for a paperback book.  I did A LOT of research and decided “I can do this” and eliminate ALL of the middle men and started my own small publishing and gift company.  I established relationships with printers, distributors, and manufacturers and went on my way. Next was the tough part- Marketing.  There are so many people who are out there ready to take every hard earned penny you have to “market” your product-and there is no need for them.  Again, more research and reading and I figured out the marketing portion from Facebook to Amazon to store placement.

At the end of the day, I am able to offer a truly great product to consumers at a VERY reasonable price and that is important to me.

What is a typical work day like? 

I get up at 5:30 a.m. with my husband while he gets ready to hit the road for the day, and I start my day.  I work for a couple of hours before the kids get up (sometimes they get up that early too!).  The rest of my day alternates between work and playing.  I have been told I am getting pretty good with building robots out of Legos and I am the princess of She-Ra land!

Even if I am curling ribbons for my next project or reading/writing emails, I always make sure to do it with my family.  I will sit in our living room with them in the evenings, still get work done, but I know I am with them.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 

Before even getting the chance to speak to a store manager, or a buyer, they already have their minds made up that you are inconveniencing them and they do not want your product.  The biggest struggle of mine has been to really put myself out there.  I have always been more like “the man behind the curtain” but this venture has forced me to step out from behind the curtain and say “BUY WHAT I HAVE!”  It has taken every people skill I have ever learned through my life, but I am getting there!

What did you do in your past work life?

I was a mechanical Engineer for the United States Army.  I did research, design, implementation, project management and analytics.

What have been some of your major successes?

Being able to build trust worthy relationships.  There are WAY too many people out there who will take advantage of someone’s enthusiasm and passion for the almighty dollar.  I figured this out the hard way, and that’s why I offer publishing to others….so…if you have any readers interested in publishing, they can contact me through our website.  It turns my stomach when people are taken advantage of- so I want to help whomever I can.

What have been some of your major challenges?

Building trust worthy relationships.  This has been  a huge challenge for reasons like above J

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?

My family plays a huge part in keeping me motivated.  I want to be able to provide for my family no matter what it takes.  I also think to myself how lucky I am to be doing something I love.  I honestly haven’t had a real impossible day yet, I just have had a few frustrating moments that I just have to fix and move on.

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?

The secret is…..I just have a great family.  Especially my husband, who helps/chips in when I need help with the house “stuff”, kids or business. He is just an all-around great person.

What is next for your business?

Carton of Cute!®  I have a new product line that is called Carton of Cute.  I designed mail-able boxes that hold everything you need for a gift.  The have one 12” Plush Animal, one hardback book, one greeting card, one Mylar balloon and a curly ribbon topper.  That way when you pick on up from the store, just sign the card and top with the ribbon and give, OR sign the card, address the box and MAIL!

There are different styles for Get well, Birthday, “For Boys” (new baby), “For Girls”(new baby), Christmas, and one even specifically for our Baltimore Friends that has “Hoo is from Baltimore, Hon!” book, crab mallet, and a steamed crab patterned box!

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business? 

Just do it.  No one is going to do it for you.  YOU have to make your dreams come true.  DO NOT make excuses why you can’t do something, make reasons why you SHOULD do something.  It is hard, but remember that YOU are in charge of your life.  Make it happen!

1 comment :

  1. This was really inspirational to read thanks for sharing.