Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Julia Flaherty, Author and Illustrator of Rosie Becomes a Warrior, based in Appleton, WI, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The name of my book series is "Rosie Becomes a Warrior." The two books in the series, "Rosie Becomes a Warrior" and "Rosie the Type 1 Diabetes Warrior Goes to Diabetes Summer Camp," are designed to empower children with type 1 diabetes to live their happiest lives. As the author and illustrator of this series, I hope to serve children with type 1 diabetes and their parents with the skills and support they deserve to feel empowered while managing diabetes.
I hope this book series may provide healing to adults with type 1 diabetes who didn't feel supported as children. I also think families and children with no direct relation to diabetes but who are also facing a significant life challenge (as we all do being human) will relate to Rosie and find her attitude and the lessons of these books helpful.
Tell us about yourself
From a young age, storytelling was always important to me. I was always incredibly immersed in the arts and even had dreams of being an actress. Type 1 diabetes sadly stopped me from pursuing that dream as my fears of job instability and potentially having no health insurance while trying to break into the entertainment industry overwhelmed me. As a young woman with type 1 diabetes, I knew if I didn't get a good job with health insurance, life would be very difficult. I was terrified of being unable to afford my insulin at 21 years old. While it's unfortunate that that fear was stronger than my dream, rest assured—I pivoted and chased a new dream. That's the beautiful thing about dreams—you can have many of them, and they can evolve as you learn and grow!
I still moved to New York City after graduating from college, which was another lifelong goal of mine. I started as a marketer in wholesale fashion while there and moved across industries, including online publishing and niche beauty. After a few years on the coast, I returned to the Midwest to be closer to my family again. Upon returning, I worked for a magazine part-time and completed several freelance gigs before finding another full-time role as a digital marketing specialist for a CRM firm. I have spent the majority of my career as a digital marketer, learning how to combine the creative, strategic, and technical to achieve an organization's goals. I have applied and continue to apply everything I learn in my 9 to 5s to my passion projects like "Rosie Becomes a Warrior."
The isolation I felt during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic led me to finally write this book and publish it in 2021. "Rosie Becomes a Warrior" is the story I needed when I so often felt alone in my type 1 diabetes journey throughout my life. It is the support mechanism I could've used at 10 when I thought my life was over in that hospital bed. It was the comfort I could've used when at 12, I thought I could only have apples as a dessert thereon. It was the reminder I probably needed at 15, then again at 17, when I thought because I lived with type 1 diabetes, I had to hide my disease, and I wasn't enough because of it.
While children's books are simple, they are helpful and meaningful to all ages. They provide a feeling of warmth you don't get from other literature. They are a hug and a friend. That is what I hope "Rosie" is, anyway, and where she comes from—that deep place of childhood where you don't know what you need until you hear it. I hope "Rosie" is exactly what young children with type 1 diabetes need to hear now as I did then. That is why I do what I do, to help people feel better about the problems they face—to help them manage their difficulties with more empowerment and joy than before.
If you would like a more thorough life story, I invite you to visit my other professional website here.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment in creating this book series is the feedback I receive about how the books help. I think these customer reviews from Amazon say it best:
Tiana: "I read this book to my daughter tonight, who is now almost 4 years old, and she liked it. I started crying a few different times while reading, and she would ask me why I wasn't reading the story. It is a well-written book, and very nice to think about the way the kid would feel and think because I have no idea what my 8-1/2-month-old was thinking when she was diagnosed. She is definitely my Type 1 Diabetes Warrior!"
Anastasiya: "I love this sweet book. I truly think this book is NOT only for kids impacted by diabetes. It is so thoughtful, and we need to educate all kids and adults alike about life with diabetes. I love illustrations too. Rosie is relatable and empowering 💕."
Laura: "Rosie Becomes a Warrior is an empowering book to have on your or your children's bookshelf whether you have diabetes or not. This is a story about learning to overcome something that may be unfamiliar and scary at first, told through a child's perspective. It's a great lesson in having the patience and grace to become a warrior in your own life.
I'm really proud to read it to my daughter and share with her a story about a girl not so unlike herself, being able to manage her T1D. This book makes what could be a scary hospital experience not so scary anymore and is broken down in a great way for kids - and anyone - to learn about T1D.
Rosie is brave, so YOU can be brave!"
Feedback like this tells me that the book series is doing what I intended for it to do when I created it, and connecting with other people in this way truly means the world. What is life about if not establishing meaningful connections?
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I don't know that I would call myself a business owner so much as the owner of this book series. I have no LLC to my name or anything of that sort, but I am proud to own these books for the ways that they help. Even if they only help one person, writing it will have been worth it. If I can help make a few people's lives better, amazing! If I can help make a hundred people's lives better, fantastic! If I can make hundreds of thousands of people's lives better, wonderful! Whatever I can do to help the greater good using the skills I have in the business lanes I'm passionate about is chef's kiss.
As a business owner, I think the challenge is building credibility and making the right connections. I wouldn't consider this a hardship so much as a trick of the trade. It's a challenge you must embrace when pursuing a passion project or starting a business. Whenever you decide what your goals are, consistency and dedication are key. Never give up when you decide it's what you want! The second you give up is the hardest because it means you no longer believe in yourself. Others will pick up on that. Never give up if it means something to you and you think it will positively impact others.
It will take time, but it won't be time wasted. Even if it doesn't turn out how you initially envision (and it probably won't because you can't anticipate everything), you will learn something from it and find a new way to pursue your passion project or a new project altogether.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Never give up on a project that is meaningful to you. The confidence you carry your project with will be evident to the people who can help you grow your project or business! You won't always get it right but try to show up fully present to everything that matters. Be intentional about the connections you make and the way you carry yourself. Don't burn bridges. You are capable of handling obstacles with grace and professionalism.
- While it may be your project, don't be afraid to invite people into it and get support for the parts of your project you aren't an expert in. If your project or business is beyond you, look beyond you to grow it.
- Stay humble. If you are lucky enough to be successful, never let it go to your head. There is someone out there you can be a mentor to or a fellow passion project chaser or business owner you can help support. Don't be afraid to be a collaborator! We need to support one another in the spaces we share.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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