This mother-daughter duo is sharing their love of traveling with the world!
Serena Minott and Asha Gore are the real-life stories behind “The Amazing Adventures of Aya & Pete,” an amazing children’s travel book series that shows the adventures of a little girl in some of her favorite cities alongside her stuffed sloth, Pete.
Completely self-published and owned and operated by Minott and Gore, these new children’s books were designed after they witnessed a lack of representation in the market when it comes to children’s travel books.
Since her daughter Asha, 7, has attended school on three different continents and traveled to over 23 countries, they wanted to share her story to inspire other families who want to show their children different parts of the world.
Minott sat down with AfroTech to discuss the vision behind the new books, how she’s using these stories to teach her daughter the value of ownership and their recent journey to landing in Nordstrom, and remaining completely self-published.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
AfroTech: What inspired you to begin creating children’s books?
Minott: The whole idea is that I wanted to take Asha and show her different parts of the world. My husband and I love to travel and we couldn’t find books anywhere that were about traveling for children that would show them different places.
I really wanted her to learn about different places. Even as I reflect back to her bookshelf about five years ago when we first started, there weren’t many Black and brown characters and there wasn’t even really a big push to diversify children’s literature. We made the decision that since we couldn’t find anything, we would make our own and create something that reflects our family and Asha’s reality.
AfroTech: That’s super cool. Speaking of representation, I understand that ownership is also important to you. How are you teaching this to Asha through the books?
Minott: The key thing I wanted her to learn is what it takes to own a business. I myself grew up in a house of entrepreneurs and witnessed my mom, grandma and aunts own their own businesses. I saw the pitfalls and the exhilarating experiences that come with that and wanted Asha to see the same.
It’s been all about her seeing and understanding firsthand what it means to have ownership of her own story, to fail because business isn’t always pretty, and to learn how to brush herself off and keep going when that does happen.
When we created the books, we made the decision not to shop them around and wanted to be completely self-published. We created our own publishing house and did our own marketing around the book.
We wanted to maintain ownership of our story and didn’t want a publishing house coming in and telling us how to tell our story. So, from the very beginning we have not only maintained ownership of the story but the intellectual property and the publishing rights too. It was important to me for Asha to see this.
AfroTech: Come through ownership! I understand that your books are even now in Nordstrom. What was that process like?
Minott: I actually used to own a clothing boutique in Miami, many many moons ago, and from my time working in fashion, I had a contact who landed at Nordstrom.
Through that very contact, we were able to find a buyer in our department and it turns out that the buyer was already familiar with the books so when I pitched them, it was kind of an easy pitch. The fact that she was already familiar and knew our books was mindblowing!
Once we started with them, we first offered the books and did so great during the holiday season that not only did they commit to reorders but we’ve just launched some additional products in Nordstrom stores last month [January].
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For more about the story of Aya & Pete, click here.