Naming a Company…….
In order to get through this, I would recommend getting a very large cup of coffee or tucking yourself into bed in case I put you to sleep! Hopefully it isn’t too boring!
Starting a business in New Hampshire takes on a different flavor from the rest of the world. Even when naming the company. While standing in my kitchen, I look out the window at two funny horses who have taken over our family’s life and captured our hearts. Hwin and Little Bear.
These two critters have found a way of becoming the name of this children’s book publishing company. It all seemed to have fallen out of the sky. Even from the beginning. I had never though of becoming a children’s book illustrator, although I spent my entire life drawing little characters. I became an interior architect - mainly because I majored in art and minored in math and the faculty at UMASS Amherst thought that would be a good thing for me. But after spending 8 years in NYC as a co-founding partner of a small interior architectural firm doing huge projects, designing homes for corporate executives and offices for major corporations, at the age of 30, I gave it all up. I missed what I had done my whole life - drawing and painting. So I gave it all up and began painting while living in New Jersey. I worked for an advertising agency and began learning desk top publishing. I started doing the advertising for the largest real estate company in NJ at the time and then, got married and ended up moving to rural NH. I continued painting, and also found odd jobs as a freelance designer. I also became a Master Gardener - I was selected for the program because they were looking for an illustrator for some publications. So that turned into an almost full time job designing and illustrating books for the UNH Cooperative Extension. Marie Harris, NH Poet Laureate in 2001 had written G is for Granite, A New Hampshire alphabet book. She had sent the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, 5 illustrators as recommendations to illustrate her book, and they rejected all of them. She was having lunch with a friend one day, complaining that she didn’t have an illustrator. By chance, her friend pulled out a book that I had done for UNH. Marie loved it. She called me, asked me if I’d like to illustrate a children’s book, and I said sure! Of course, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into, I just thought that sounded like a great project. I had to do 3 samples and was lucky enough to be picked. That turned into the most amazing career change. Over the next ten years I illustrated 11 more children’s books, painted murals in the NH Children’s Museum in Dover, and did the artwork for the NH Heirloom Birth Certificate and travelled in the northeast doing school visits as a children’s book illustrator.
After opening my studio at the Christmas Dove in Barrington, NH in 2015, and then creating A Cat’s Christmas Tale written by Peter Arenstam last year, I had the problem of figuring out how to publish it. After many calls, I decided, why not do it myself? I finally took the leap, designed it and found a wonderful printer and A Cat’s Christmas Tale became a reality. I named my little press Hwin Press(mainly because when you buy the ISBN number for a book you have to name a press. I wracked my brain(not really - life is always about Hwin in this house!) and named it Hwin Press, after my horse, who has travelled all over with our family, has always had some sort of ailment, but has somehow captured out hearts. When I insisted she move with our family to Ohio for three years in 2011, my husband’s comment was “ I thought you weren’t going to get attached to this one?” Well, 8 years later, back in New Hampshire, “this one” now has a little friend. They can be quite collectible. Last year, after being tired of spending endless nights sitting in the barn keeping Hwin calm during the fireworks, windy days, snow storms and just about every other weather event, I decided to get her a little friend. As if falling out of the sky again, a mini showed up on one of my facebook pages for sale. So I called and made an offer on this little critter. The day she arrived was the day our little animal family was complete. Her name was Bear and she looked exactly like a bear. But she was so tiny compared to big old Hwin that we started calling her Little Bear and the name stuck. So in the process of designing my second book, my little publishing company, formerly called Hwin Press, became Hwin and Little Bear Press. It has such a great sound for children’s books. So of course, when designing the logo, the image of the two, standing side by side staring at my kitchen window was the perfect solution.
The word got out and again, falling from the sky, 7 more books came in. This idea of creating a company where people can independently publish their books happened almost over night. As a children’s book illustrator and graphic designer it was only fitting to combine the two careers and help others achieve their dreams. After 35 years of working, I felt like I finally found my calling. I am sort of a “do it all dolly”(a phrase from one of our family’s favorite Christmas movies!) Hopefully it will become big enough that I can hire someone to help. In the meantime, I am the office manager, illustrator, shipping department, garbage disposal person, website designer, book designer, messenger, graphic designer and any other job you can think of to make a company run! Sleep is definitely over rated!
I think the best things in life happen when you aren’t looking. This certainly did. The best part is that it is allowing people to publish their books. One of the most difficult tasks for authors is getting that first book published. And for authors writing children’s books, even more difficult, because not only do they need the book designed, but they need it illustrated. It can be quite costly and takes an enormous amount of time.
I find working with first time authors a bit tricky. One of our specialties is nurturing new authors through the difficult process of publishing their first book. It is similar to giving birth to one’s first child. Each one that has been done has proven success. I am finding on their second book they are much more confident, and the learning curve lessened.
Hwin and Little Bear now have their own Amazon Selling page. They are pretty excited. We will be selling all of the books as well as prints of the illustrations from the books. The books are all wonderful reads - we are doing novels now as well. Our first novel, The Final Canoe Ride written by Inger Margaret Foster, a beautiful story about a woman’s journey with Breast cancer. We are now publishing a sequel and she has just started her third novel. I think Hwin and Little Bear have given people the ability to fulfill their dreams.
Of course, the home selling base for all of the books is The Christmas Dove in Barrington as well as a handful of independent book stores in New Hampshire and wherever our authors reside. I keep trying to figure out how to get Hwin and Little Bear down to the Christmas Dove as mascots to add to the animal flavor of a store cat and two little parakeets. Little Bear would fit fine marching down the aisles of the store with Portland the cat although one would worry that her incredibly cute little tail might swing around and knock down glass ornaments!
Hwin and Little Bear are quite proud of their accomplishments. I don’t think this all would have come about without them. I think creativity happens in unusual places and surroundings.
If you made it down to here, you most certainly have fallen asleep! Sweet dreams! That is our mission! To help author’s dreams come true!