Over her twenty-five-year career in education, Veronica has worked to help young people and their families learn more about the importance and value of the acquisition of knowledge. In addition to serving as a college admission officer at three liberal arts colleges, Veronica has tutored, coached and encouraged students to learn many of the soft skills required in order to be successful in school and in life. As a consultant, Veronica has taught young students how to successfully interview for admission to independent school and college as well as provide instruction on dining etiquette. She has also tutored students for the SSAT, an entrance exam for admission to independent school. She currently serves as Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Affinity and Identity Programs at Colgate University. Her primary responsibility is to develop events and programs that build affinity and deeper relationships between Colgate and Alumni of Color, LGBTQ+ Alumni, alumni of Greek Letter Organizations, alumni of A Capella Groups, and former International Students. In 2020, Veronica published a children’s book, “A Visit to The Bahamas from A to Z”. The story centers on three cousins who embark on an alphabetical adventure that explores the history, culture, and people of The Bahamas. The book was created as a tribute to her father and mother who are both native Bahamians, and is a recollection of many summers spent in The Bahamas visiting with her late grandmother and extended family who still reside in The Bahamas. As a Mellon Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia, University, she earned both a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and a M.A. in Bilingual-Bicultural Education. She earned her B.A. in Spanish, with honors, from Colgate University.
Why is your business a business to watch in 2021?
Knowledge is Capital Publishing and Educational Programs is an educational omni media corporation that focuses on providing learners of all ages with upbeat and interesting media and educational programming that focuses on multiple aspects of teaching, learning, and knowledge acquisition. Additional products and services that focus on learning will be developed over the next three to five years, to help meet the growing demand for diverse learning materials and opportunities.
What inspired you to start your business?
I created the company after the passing of my father. He was an elementary school custodian in a nearby town, and he always encouraged us to learn as much as we can, because his parents could not afford to send him to high school after the 8th grade. I decided to create a company that provided kids with access to opportunities to learn about the world around them, in honor of his memory and to encourage my children to have a passion for learning.
How did 2020 change your business? Was it for the better?
As many families with school-aged children juggled multiple responsibilities, including homeschooling children, we accelerated our efforts to complete the book so that it could be available for purchase. Despite not being able to make in-person connections to sell my book, we realized that social media is a powerful way to market and sell merchandise.
What lessons did you learn in your business in 2020?
To be adaptable and discover unique ways to sell your product in the absence of in-person opportunities to generate sales.
What kind of impact do you want your business to leave on your client or customer?
As a woman of color, and parent, I want my customer to know that they are purchasing a high-quality children’s book that has been well researched and vetted. As a publisher, I want my customer to know that I created this product and company because of the lack of books written and published by people of color. I also want my customers to know that you too can create and sell your own products if it is not readily available in the marketplace. If you decide to pursue entrepreneurship and be the first person in your family to be an entrepreneur, you will be a great role model to those who may consider entrepreneurship. I also want them to consider the challenges small business owners face in creating products for the marketplace and support small business owners whenever possible.
Do you feel your product or service meets the needs of the market?
I created the book and the company because of the lack of children’s books that had children of color as lead characters. I loved to read as a kid and remember how few books there were about kids like me so I created my characters to show that children of color are adventurous, curious, and love learning. I also wanted to empower young people and make them realize that they have the freedom to express themselves in any way that they choose. I also decided to create the company because we need more minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
What hurdles did you personally face in getting ready to open your business and how did you overcome them?
Having enough time to manage the business and a full-time job. I had to learn how to manage my time so that I could make time to work on my book and manage the business side of selling books. To complete the book project, I invested lots of personal funds and had the financial support of a few good friends and my eldest child who was an early investor. Funding is a huge challenge for small business owners and especially for women of color. Finding an illustrator was the greatest challenge as I was searching for many years to find someone who understood my vision. Luckily, my illustrator is a former colleague who is an extremely gifted artist who was interested in the project and shared his talents with me and subsequently the world. I am most indebted to him for his patience and the time he invested in the book.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship?
I started my company over a decade ago as a passion project and as a way to generate extra income. Entrepreneurship is in my blood. My maternal grandfather was a tailor who immigrated to The Bahamas from Barbados. My parents owned a small catering company when I was growing up, so we always helped in any way we could when my parents had catering opportunities. Watching my parents and hearing stories about my grandfather made me realize that entrepreneurship is for anyone who wishes to share their product or service with others who have a need for their product of service.
What would you say is your most driving motivation to keep doing what you do?
There are many histories, perspectives and stories about the black diaspora that need to be heard and seen. I created the book and the company to provide a platform to encourage others to share their stories and diversify the children’s book market.
What are you most excited or passionate about? (In both business and life or both)
Passionate about helping young people reach their full potential. I also love helping people learn about The Bahamas – its culture, history, and people.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your business? What are the goals that you hold personally?
Initially, my goal was to write and publish a children’s book about The Bahamas. I will write more books for children and adults to enjoy. Because education comes in many forms. I have provided services that help young people with interview skills, etiquette, and how to structure their college admission essays. I will continue to provide these services in order to help young people achieve their goals.
Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in, and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me about them.
My mother. She trained as a registered nurse and immigrated to the United States in her mid-thirties. She is a wise and kind woman who had great hopes for me and my siblings. She was also very tough, but as a parent myself, I am glad she raised me the way she did. She taught me the value of exposing kids to various activities at a young age (reading, music, sports, travel), and she and my dad made a lot of sacrifices to make sure that we participated in activities outside of the classroom which gave us the confidence to go anywhere and do anything we set our mind to achieve.
Two of my professors in graduate school, Dr. A Lin Goodwin, and Dr. Jennifer Robinson were instrumental in my development as an educator. As women of color, they are outstanding educators who worked hard to provide educators with strategies on how to improve instruction for children of color. I am very lucky that they were my professors as well as mentors and friends.
My children are the reason why I created the book and provide help to young people through other means. They inspire me every day to do more to help other children learn more about the world around them.
Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to be doing what you’re doing today? Tell me about them.
As a woman in my mid-fifties with three children of my own, I realize that parenting is an incredibly difficult job. I appreciate the sacrifices that my parents made for me and my siblings now more than ever, especially as I watch my children come into their own as young adults. A lot of my parenting skills are adapted from how I was raised, and my kids got a mix of old school and modified new school values.
Also, having had exposure to travel and the opportunity to learn Spanish at a young age made me realize that you can travel the world, meet different types of people and learn anything if you put your mind to it and make an effort.
What’s next for you in your brand? What can readers look forward to from you?
More books for children and adults about other parts of the world and potentially a memoir about my experiences as an educator and parent.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
The first time I took my eldest child to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, NY, I remember standing in front of Van Gogh’s “Irises” with my kid in a forward-facing harness. I just stood there and realized that even as an infant, the colors and the shapes fascinated them. This was back in the mid-1990s when parents did not take infants to the museum. I remember the unwelcome stares I got from museum-goers for bringing an infant to the museum. It did not bother me because I was determined to expose my child to art and music at an early age. I also started doing research into the importance of sharing the arts with children at an early age, and was fascinated by the impact early language development, and visual stimulation can have on a child. Also, because I studied bilingual/bicultural education, I wanted the company name to reflect my belief in the power of understanding and appreciating other languages and cultures other than your own. Additionally, I wanted the name of my company to reflect how the acquisition of knowledge or education can help to increase your ability to earn a living wage.