Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Gonzalez and Reynaldo Mora.
Sandra and Reynaldo, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
“Our story” is best told by first recognizing Paulo Coelho’s quote from The Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” We believe that this quote truly captures our story like no other.
Rey and I met four years ago when I began to study and learn Aztec dance. One evening after our weekly practice, I shared with Rey that I was writing a children’s book and that one day I was going to publish it. He said, “Are you looking for an illustrator? I’m an artist!”.
Of course, I was looking for an illustrator! It turned out that he really was an artist and wasn’t just flirting with me. I learned from him later that he was “looking for a girlfriend” who shared his interests in community, arts, and culture. Fast forward, I now have my beautifully illustrated bilingual children’s book that was released this past December and is thriving in the market. And Rey, too, got what he wanted. He and “his girlfriend” now advocate for community well-being through arts, culture, and Aztec dance.
Today, as a blended family, we serve as agents of social change by aligning our skills and talents to supporting the needs of our communities. My background in early childhood education has provided the knowledge and expertise needed to develop our books. Rey’s artistic gifts support the creative aspects of our company. Our children, too, bring their own unique qualities to the success of our business. Publishing this first book is about the proud expression of culture, the celebration of language, and deep-rooted appreciation of Mother Earth.
For us, this action is also a political and social movement. As advocates for equity, we are ensuring that all children, regardless of their socio-economic status, have opportunities to learn and understand the meaning of new words that enrich their lexicon and life experience. We also wish to disrupt the status quo on traditional publishing. We are addressing the need to increase the number of English/Spanish bilingual children’s books that are written, illustrated, and published by Latino authors.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Shifting the status quo is never smooth. The challenges to achieve what we have achieved so far have been plenty. But, because we want all this “badly enough”, the Universe will continue to conspire to help us achieve it. As long as we continue to believe that, truly believe, then we will see results despite not having enough time, enough funds, enough energy, enough resources – blah, blah, blah.
Rey and I work full-time jobs outside of our home; in addition to running our business and doing a lot of community and volunteer work. Balancing our time and maintaining a strong focus has been a tremendous challenge, but somehow it always works out. A perfect example of how everything will unfold exactly as it is supposed to be is the successful Book Launch Celebration and Book Signing that we held on December 19, 2017, where almost 100 people attended and we sold out of books that night.
We don’t have a public relations department, yet on the day of our Book Launch, we had a camera crew from Univision come to our home to help promote our event. We welcome the challenges because the victories feel that much sweeter!
Please tell us about Skillful & Soulful Press.
The name of our business is Skillful & Soulful Press. We are very proud of our vision and mission statements that our family created for our independent publishing company.
Our Vision: A world where parents and their children are creators of social change and community well-being.
Our Mission: To inspire families to live courageously, learn endlessly, and love passionately so our world is better.
Through our business name, we promote what we refer to as living skillfully and soulfully. Mainly, it’s about living in balance within all aspects of our life – relationships, parenting, career, health, spirituality, play, and all other critical components of who we are and do. Skillful refers to living in a logical and analytical way – fully in our masculine energy. Soulful refers to living in tune with our intuition and creativity – fully in our feminine energy. For us, this is true regardless of a person’s gender, identity, and orientation. We believe wholeheartedly that our best, most blissful, experiences as human beings are lived when we master the art of living in a way that is both skillful and soulful.
We specialize in publishing bilingual children’s books that help address a “word poverty” that exists particularly in communities of color. Basically, this gap in words is what early literacy experts refer to when describing the disparity between the number of words that children from families of higher income hear compared to children whose family earns a lower income. Reading experts say that young children who hear new and interesting words are better prepared to succeed when they enter school. This exposure to words also promotes a desire to read books and awakens a love of language that helps children become stronger readers.
What sets us apart from other indie publishers is that our books are co-created with our children. Mommy, Tell Me Why I Am Radiant / Mami, ¿dime por qué soy radiante? is the first of four books in the Mommy Tell Me Series. A list of child-friendly explanations that Julia Rae Rodriguez created is included to help parents explain each fancy word used in the book. This project was inspired by my daughter, Julia Rae Rodriguez, when she was 4 years old and was fascinated with fancy words. Julia Rae, is now 11 years old and is the co-author of the series. Rey is the illustrator of the 32-page book.
Roy the Bed Head Boy is in progress and is being co-created with my 15-year old son, Cristian Gabriel Rodriguez.
Our book can be ordered online on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
- Mommy, Tell Me Why I Am Radiant Hardcover Book – $25
- Mommy, Tell Me Why I Am Radiant Paperback Book – $15
- Art Print of Original Illustration – $15
- Website: www.skillfulandsoulful.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/skillfulandsoulful/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/skillfulsoulful
Pedro Ramirez ActionX Photography