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Meet Markita Staples-Green

Today we’d like to introduce you to Markita Staples-Green.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
The idea for the Curly Crew came in 2019 during storytime with my one-year-old daughter Emerald. I had a hard time finding books in the store with characters that looked like her that were also written for babies and young children. I then decided to create my own stories that would be easy for my daughter to understand. I still had a full-time corporate job, so used nights and weekends to write, research the self-publishing process, and connect with others in the children’s book industry. Along the journey, I discovered a love for drawing and learned to illustrate the books myself. I released my first book, “What Should I Do Today?” at the end of 2019. Curly Crew Books has since grown to include three titles, including “I Am Not Sleepy” and “I Love Being Me”. My vision and desire to make my daughter smile and brighten her day has translated to thousands of sales on Amazon and a community following on social media. Emerald is now three, and I also have a one-year-old daughter, Autumn with my husband Keith. I am originally from Detroit, MI and I’m new to Atlanta. We absolutely love it here. I’m launching my fourth book “I Have So Many Feelings” next week.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The biggest challenge for me was working on the book while learning. Once I decided that I wanted to write this book, I wanted to get started right away and I basically jumped right in! So I learned everything that goes into being an author, illustrator, and publisher while doing it. Of course, add two young children and an exhausting job and it was overwhelming at times. I spent a lot of time doing things completely wrong and later trying to find the right answer. For example, the first iteration of “What Should I Do Today?” was rejected by Amazon publishing 15 times! There were nuances to formatting the book like text and image placing, and I had such a hard time getting it right. It pushed back my publication date by two weeks and had me close to tears at times. Also, when I later looked at that first book, I decided that I had to make major updates since I had learned so much. So the version that was published in 2019 looks nothing like the one that is out today. I had a professional graphic designer redo my cover and layout, and I completely redid all of the illustrations. In hindsight, I would have done things completely different so that I didn’t have to go back and do so much rework. But as they say, if you’re happy with the first version, you took too long to launch. 🙂

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’ve been an artist for my entire life, but it took some time to realize it. As a child, I spent hours every day playing the flute and I even decided to pursue Music Performance in undergrad. However, I quickly realized I wanted a more earning potential and better job security, so I switched to a Business degree and did not do anything art-related (including music) for the next decade. I worked in Corporate America for 10+ years at big companies like Deloitte, United Airlines, and Adobe in strategy and operations roles. While working at Adobe, I rediscovered my love for the arts as I played a key role in launching updated versions of applications like Photoshop and Illustrator. This role happened to have the perfect blend of my expertise in operations, problem-solving, and creativity. I’m not sure I would have attempted doing my illustrations without this experience. I am most known for my ability to bring an entire story together with both the words and illustrations. There are not many author-illustrators of color and I am extremely proud to be able to create books targeted to people of color that have a strong and authentic perspective. I believe that the biggest key to my success has been an openness to change and a willingness to learn. The world is constantly evolving, and there are so many opportunities to grow and advance. I’ve found that the hardest obstacle to overcome is to take a chance and learn a new role, project, skillset, or anything else. It can be scary at first, but it can easily open so many doors and be so rewarding.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
In the last few years, content targeted to people of color has really been elevated – everything from Netflix to major television networks to children’s literature. I believe this trend will continue and there will be even more of a demand for children’s books. Also, one of the specific reasons I started creating my books is because there were so few books out there for babies and pre-readers (0-6) that feature minority characters. This is mainly because board books (these are the hard, cardboard books that babies can chew on) are more expensive to produce and have a low price point, so publishers only do them for books with obvious mass appeal. I think this will change. More parents are reading to their babies and young children (and don’t like for their books to be destroyed!) and the benefits for early reading are better understood. So, board books will become more of a necessity and less of a novelty item – and I think we’ll see more variety and a lot more books targeted to people of color.

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