Sometimes there are things that I come across that just touch my heart, & that I wish had been around when I was a child. When I first saw “Happy To Be Me”, it was something that drew me in immediately & I knew that I had to find out more. Then I saw that one of my favourite small businesses (Charlie Loves Studio) was involved as well & I took this as another reminder that I needed to reach out immediately!
I absolutely adore the look of this book & definitely want to order one for my friend’s little girl. I think it is so important to encourage kids to see that being different is ok & that they should love themselves for who they are. It is something I still battle with so I wish this book had been around when I was little.
Your name: Jessica Smith
Business name: My business, which I suppose it is now (still cannot believe it), is called Love for a Little, or Have Love For A Little Heart, in full.
What do you do: I teach in a Grade 1 classroom as an assistant teacher and am in my final year of studying Foundation Phase Education. I also Au Pair for a family with three little girls, who are 7,5 and 4 years old… I started there when the youngest was 18 months old, so I am extremely close to them and share an amazing bond with the family, loving the girls like I would my own. My first book is dedicated to them. I then also run Love For A Little, which started as, and occasionally still is, a blog where I document my journey of working with children in all settings, and has now become my business, where I sell my books and now character doll as well. I write children’s books and illustrate my own as well. I am hoping to develop my “brand” to one day have my own store, fully stocked with my own books, dolls of all my characters, pajamas, nursery prints and all sorts, all to do with my characters. (A girl can dream).
Tell me a bit more about your book: My book is the first of my range that will deal with emotional issues and topics. It is about a little fox, Daphne May, who is a little smaller than the rest and she struggles to find her place in her big, wide world. There are unkind words and confirmation of her fears dragging her down, and although the calm and constant reassurance from her mamma is there, she cannot seem to shake needing approval from others. She decides to move on and focus on finding new friends, when she ends up being needed and helping BECAUSE of the very reason she felt odd, and so she learns the worthiness of herself, despite the odd challenge it may present. Loving herself was important and those who did not, simply lacked understanding, but one day they will know, one day we all will. I am only 23 and struggle all the time to stop negative self-talk and terrible thoughts about myself and the parts of me that I so wish to change… It has become really important to me to stop this and to start loving and accepting myself for who I am, because let’s face it, what we are so hung up over, is often not even noticed by the people around us and we end up wasting so much time worrying about ourselves, that we forget to be happy and to LIVE comfortably and confidently and to be ALIVE in our amazing bodies, that do so much for us.
Why do you think the theme & lesson from your book is so important for everyone: Since working with little ones is my absolute passion, it became so important to me to try and change this body image struggle that we face in today’s society and with today’s social media pressures…
How did you come up with this idea: My girls that I au pair and the children that I teach always tell me how beautiful I am and compliment me on every little thing I do and move I make… One day, I actually felt so guilty about the way I felt about myself, because how dare I see myself as anything less than perfect, when I have a thousand little eyes loving on me and all that I do, everyday? So I thought to myself that writing this story would hopefully feed them so much self-love and help them to realize that it is completely okay to be different and to look different, and that we need to embrace our own uniqueness and accept ourselves, and also accept those around us, for all that we are, and for all that we are not. That is not to say that there won’t be unkind words and comments from others, dragging us down, but we need to teach our children that despite what others may think, do or say, what truly matters, is what comes from within. I wanted to give children the tools to understand that they are special and that they are needed in this world and to also understand how important it is to realize that accepting themselves and others is important for us to realize our importance. I could go on and on and on, but in the end the message is strong, bold and extremely simple: JUST LOVE. I have loved children’s books from day one of working with them and being exposed to it again in my adult life. It takes you on a journey of humor and hidden messages that we never quite stop needing to hear. I love that I can reach adults and children through my books, as they read to their little ones.
How long has it taken for this to come into being a physical book from your first idea: I wrote the book one evening and it sat around for a year and a bit, needing illustrations… I didn’t believe that I had what it takes, but when I realized that no one was going to make my ideas come to life, I got to it myself, and I was surprised as what I could create. I always wanted it to be child-like, imperfect, watercolor happiness and I tried to achieve just that. In about two years from when I wrote the story, I published it myself.
Have you always wanted to write & illustrate a book: I have always loved writing and never knew what to write, so when I found this passion and love for children’s literature, I knew I had a dream to harvest.
I see another one is in the pipeline – can you tell us more: In a couple days, my second book will be printed and on sale, called “See You Later Alligator” It deals with separation anxiety and coping mechanisms for children, promoting independence and confidence, reassuring them…
I am super excited to see that you have done a colab with Charlie Loves Studio. How did this come about: When I saw Charlie’s work, I immediately had a vision and acted on it. It started with me sending her an Instagram message and when she said she was keen to take on the challenge, I knew I would not stop until we could make it a reality!
Where can people buy your package (book & doll) from: If people want my book, they can buy it from Blume co. (boutique in Port Elizabeth) or Summerlane and Little Things (both stores in East London), otherwise our online stores are Bella Poppelina, Nordic Munki, Baby Bug Boutique, Laatlam Gifts and now of course, Charlie Loves Studio. To get the book and doll package, you can message or email me or Charlie Loves… We are currently promoting the package at a special price of R395 for both, IF your order is in before Wednesday! (The book retails for R120 and the doll for R325, with a combo deal of R425), So R395 gives a great discount and saving! Please, anyone who is keen, can contact me for any questions, I am always so happy to help (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0835559204).
Quote you live by: I have all these wild dreams and started with nothing and it all seemed impossible, but I did not stop until it was done and now I just dream all day and work so hard to make sure that I realize all my dreams for the future, because I want to make a difference, and I want to keep living out my dreams forever… So I would say, on that note, that something simple I love to hear and to believe in and to preach is: “YOU CAN”, you are never too old, too young, too poor or too bad at something. Believe in yourself and always remember that “YOU ARE YOUR MINDSET”.
Today (27/03/2019) is the last day you can place your order for the special offer at their discounted price, so make sure you get in quickly! I really think this is a book that we can all learn from – no matter. Plus the fact that Daphne May has been brought to life makes it all that much more exciting. I can’t wait to cuddle my very own…