Monday, April 16, 2012

Spotlight on Mommy -- Barb Lawson-Miller of Barb-A-Mel Books

I have been excited for weeks about sharing my interview with Barb Lawson-Miller, author of  Barb-A-Mel Books with you, as I am fan of reading to your children, and am currently doing a "Welcome in Spring with a Good Book" feature here on my blog, where I am sharing books the whole family will enjoy reading together.  My mother read to me when I was younger, and as I grew up, I fell in love with reading and the all adventures that came with the wonderful stories I read.  Over time, I also found it as a way to unwind at the end of a busy day, or look forward to the warmer weather, when I could sit on the back porch and read a book.  And, when we found out were expecting in 2010 and 2011, I began reading to both of my daughters while in the womb, and as soon as they arrived.  Each and every day I make a point to read with Savannah in the afternoon after lunch, and then again at bedtime.  She loves having her father and I read to her.  And, with recordable books, she is also able to have Nana and Papa read to it.  But, now with Barb-A-Mel Books, she is able to have me read stories of love from her father and grandparents.  I am loving these books, after having been sent I Love Mommy.  With my husband's father living in El Salvador and his mother unable to speak English well, Barb Lawson-Miller's books will come in handy when the girls get a little older and wonder if her Abuela and Abuelo love them.

And, if you know someone in the military, who is deployed, or soon will be, this is a great book to share with a young children, to remember their parent, while they are away.  Head back here on Friday, when I will review Barb-A-Mel Books in more detail with you.  But, in the meantime, please enjoy my Spotlight on Mommy interview with Barb-Lawson-Miller, creator of these wonderful keepsake books.

Name: Barb Lawson-Miller
Company Name/Product/Service: Barb-A-Mel Books
Company Location: Ontario, Canada
Company Website:
Facebook URL:
Twitter Handle:
Age of Company: 11 years
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: ‘Read Together & Smile Together’
Favorite Book: “I Love Grandma Because...”

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

I have 2 children. Age 11 & 13. Hobbies include art, skating, skiing, & animal rescue. We
have 4 rescued dogs. They are a big part of my life. $1 from every book sold on my website
goes to animal rescue.

Briefly explain your business. How did it come about?

I wrote my first book “I Love DaddyBecause...” for my daughter because my husband travelled a lot for work and I wanted her to know how much her Daddy loved here even when he couldn’t be home. Photos or drawing are inserted into the board books so that children can look at photos and feel a
special bond with a parent or grandparent through the photos/drawings and hear the words “I Love Daddy Because...” on every page. My favorite page: “I love Daddy because... he makes me laugh” because the drawing is of Daddy bear doing a cartwheel at a picnic.

What is a typical work day like? 

24/7! I have an office at home so I can work around my kids schedule. If I have a lot of work and a busy week with the kids I get up at 3am to get ahead when the house is quiet too. I deal with companies across the NA and often I’m taking calls when I’m at activities with my kids or making dinner. For the most part people don’t know or don’t mind as long as you sound professional and can deliver what you promise.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company? 

I worked with a large publishing company here in Canada when I first started and they went bankrupt taking all the money I had made and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I took a few years off after that. People kept sending me emails asking for the books so I ventured back into the business but on my own terms with a lot more control. Don’t let people tell you what you have to do. It’s a new world and you don’t have to ‘go’ the traditional route. I’ve only recently started selling in the US and it has been a huge success. As soon as I started selling in the US, I started working 24/7 and I’m definitely not complaining. Thank you USA!

What did you do in your past work life?

Advertising & Personal Trainer

What have been some of your major successes?

Original success of my books when they were displayed at a flagship HUGE book store in Toronto...above Harry Potter. It was a sea of ‘I Love Daddy Because...’ Hundreds of them along a winding staircase. They took my breath away.  The beautiful Jeri Ryan crying over my books. When I met her at a celebrity event in LA, I didn’t know who she was. I just thought this stunning, beautiful woman is crying after I told her the story behind my books and I didn’t know what to do. She was so sweet. My husband said afterwards, “Did you know who that was?” She is not only beautiful but just such a lovely person. This is not really success but reassurance that I’m doing the ‘right’ thing. The phone calls, emails and letters from those that have lost loved ones and they are using my books for their children so that they remember the good times and that they are forever loved will always motivate me to keep working hard. It still breaks my heart to think of a child losing a parent.

What have been some of your major challenges?

Being a small publisher in a big publishers world. I have four titles so far and the big companies have hundreds. Stores and reps would rather place one order for a larger volume and I understand that but I’ve got a great product that they don’t sell. I’m more of a gift than a book and when stores realize that, things turn around but some people won’t listen. It’s the real world and small business have to work twice as hard but it’s doable.

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

Shania Twain’s song “Today is your day.”

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

Be present. Don’t miss it. Be there for your kids. They are the most important thing in the world. Kids grow up so fast, life flies by so fast...stop, listen and breath. Take it all in. Most companies understand if you are reasonable. Don’t over promise and under deliver. It is my biggest pet peeve. Having a supportive spouse is a huge asset. He knows when I am ‘over my head’ and he has to pitch in more.

What is next for your business?

Continue growing in the US and start hiring so that I have time to publish ‘I Love My Brother Because...”, Sister, Aunt, Uncle, Dog, Cat...and so on. It’s tough hiring when you are a perfectionist. No one will do the job like me, but I can’t do it all.

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

Believe in yourself. Research your product or business. Look at all the pros and cons and know that you report to you. No one is going to push you. I have to make decisions by myself. You’ll have ups and downs. Don’t risk everything. Protect your children and their future. Shows like ‘Dragon’s Den’ and ‘Shark Tank’ are excellent shows to start watching.

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