Q&A 4Her – Aisha Greene, Co-Owner of Hartlyn Kids
Aisha L. Greene, Esq. is a lawyer, wife, mother, entrepreneur, Brooklynite, and blogger. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York University with a degree in Sociology. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, she practiced corporate finance law for six years at a Wall Street law firm. She enjoys blogging about her adventures in raising a globally minded child with her business partner at www.HartlynKids.blogspot.com. While blogging, Aisha and her business partner quickly realized that that there was a stark void in multicultural children’s books.
In 2010 Aisha co-founded Hartlyn Kids, an independent children’s book publishing business dedicated to providing children (and their parents) with the opportunity to travel the globe–one book at a time through a multicultural reading series about the day in the life of a child from around the globe. The series has started with two books: one about India and the other about the Philippines and both are written by authors that grew up and live in these countries.
Aisha, who recently won 3rd place in the Volusion Mompreneur Makeover Contest, took the time to talk to MyCity4Her about her business, the things she underestimated about her industry and more. Read the full interview below.
Did you ever imagine yourself achieving what you have?
Not at all – not as an entrepreneur. I’d always hoped to be successful by some measure but I never thought I would have the courage to branch out and start my own business. I’m a pretty risk averse person and don’t often take chances especially in business – so to now be a successful entrepreneur is pretty amazing and rewarding. I thank my business partner for encouraging me to take a chance on such a great idea!
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about your industry or business and why?
Absolutely underestimated how difficult it is to get books into bookstores! We knew that there was plenty of work to do in that area but did not really appreciate all the work it entailed. Right now we are primarily selling our multicultural children’s books online – via our website www.HartlynKids.com and via online sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This year, we are working hard to include our books in bookstores, particularly independent bookstores and children’s bookstores. At the start of the year, we contracted with BCH Fulfillment and Distribution with the goal of getting our books on more shelves.
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
The best business related advice that I have been given is to ALWAYS OVERESTIMATE COSTS. I have found this to be true. Whatever you think something costs, add at least 5-10% more to that because there are always hidden costs/fees and expenses. As an example, when we were anticipating our first shipment of children’s books we were required to have our books go through a customs examination which we had to pay for. This cost was totally unexpected but we were able to manage it within our budget because we had already overestimated costs.
What do you love most about what you do and why?
I love that our business requires us to interact a lot with children and also grants us the opportunity to meet people who are really passionate about culture and diversity. We are learning so much from children and adults alike! Children’s literacy and global awareness are both passions of mine and to be able to incorporate that in my day-to-day work is a blessing.
What if you knew then that you know now –would you do differently and why?
Knowing what I know now, our company would have created more collaborative relationships with schools and learning institutions based around the learning outcomes in our books. Schools that have a focus or desire to focus on multicultural education would be great locations for our children’s book series that includes “Learning Tools” at end of each book. As a result of our current knowledge, we have started visiting local elementary schools and libraries and recently created FREE lesson plans that can be downloaded from our website and used in conjunction with our children’s books.
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
I love to travel outside of my home state and also love to explore and travel within my state as well! On my blog, www.HartlynKids.blogspot.com, I write about my experiences exploring exhibits, museums and cultural institutions in my home state. I love taking my daughter to see the best of New York. When I have the chance, I also love to travel with my family outside of New York City. My daughter at the age of three has already been to Chicago, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Panama, Costa Rica and the Bahamas.
How do you define success?
Every business wants to be profitable but for us, success in our business also includes spreading the message about diversity and cultural awareness – not just to children but also to adults. We hope that our books demonstrate that no matter where you are on the planet – we have so many similarities and our differences should be celebrated.
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business – what would it be?
Don’t stand in your own way and defeat yourself before you even start. Before you decide that you can’t do something, actually try it first. You might learn something even if the result is failure.