The Intentional Bookshelf
The Intentional Bookshelf
From the moment I learned about Samantha Munoz’s site, Addison Reads, I was in LOVE.
Fostering the love of literature while teaching important concepts that reflect your family’s values is a magical combination which Samantha has artfully tapped into. I’m gaga over her reading packs and am so glad she’s pioneered the idea of creating an Intentional Bookshelf – intention, mindfulness and conscious living and learning all wrapped up into one! Samantha’s story shows how you can combine the best part of yourself to create something purposeful in the world.
- Tell us about your business – what’s your mission; your soul’s purpose and why you created your business or service?
I teach parents how to find children’s books that reinforce their family values to their kids and also help cultivate their genuine interests. I wholeheartedly believe that we are what we read, and it is my mission to help parents see that if you take the time to curate your home library and create what I call your Intentional Bookshelf, you will be a better, more present, and more impactful parent. Trying to be a parent is tough work on your own, so I encourage my fellow mamas and daddies to use books to help them teach their children all of the amazing things they want them to know, and help their little ones become the best versions of themselves.
- Tell us about your journey and your story…describe your family and business and any major life events….what got you to this point today?
I am a military spouse and we were living in Japan when I started my business. As a new mother who is totally a Type-A personality I felt overwhelmed by the pressures of parenthood and being one of the most important teachers in my daughter’s life. I was at the library with my daughter one day when I realized the amazingness of children’s literature – it seriously just came to me as I was surrounded by pages and pages of words and illustrations. Books are so formative, why wouldn’t I give my daughter the absolute best books out there – books that spoke to who I wanted her to be? Why on earth was I putting so much pressure on myself to be her sole teacher when there are resources like stories to help me explain to her some of the most difficult concepts.
So, I was already seeking an outlet that not only made me feel like I was helping others, but also validated my analytical skills as an engineer and someone who loved to write. I started my blog, Addison Reads, where I reviewed the intricacies of the books I read with my daughter. This quickly turned into me realizing my ideas about children’s books were unique and I had to explain it all in a cohesive and meaningful way which led me to write my book, The Intentional Bookshelf. Since writing my book I have offered several services and products to help parents curate a library of resources for their families.
I still blog all the time, I won’t ever stop. I love sharing my brain on a silver platter for parents and I enjoy hearing feedback about what’s working and not working as my audience tries out my methods and as they begin to create their own Intentional Bookshelves.
- How do you create, innovate or break the rules in your life/business/organization?
Addison Reads is my passion. It drives me and is a creative and motivating outlet for me. It is a safe place to discuss my fears about parenting and my triumphs in living an intentional life, and a platform to share my thoughts and methods related to children’s literature. However, I also work full time remotely as a software engineer and that feeds another part of my soul and self. On the outside, it may seem like I am breaking some sort of rule – an engineer is typically seen as more analytical and perhaps less creative and a blogger / entrepreneur might be seen as free spirited. However, I mesh my business and my full-time career into one another and they feed into my whole self. When I need extra motivation to finish a coding project, writing a blog post makes me feel creative and like I can make innovative decisions (and is a sweet release when my brain is tense). When I’m feeling stuck and lacking progress in my business, writing out several lines of code and organizing software makes me feel productive.
- How long did it take you to reach important milestones in your business?
I wrote my book and had a successful launch of it only 4 months after starting my business. However, it was not until this year when I started thinking more about how I wanted to grow sustainably and bring in a true income that I reached some true milestones (like selling out of my first product launch, hiring my sister as my gal who does #allthethings and being on some big name podcasts).
- Tell us about the start-up scares: Was there a moment where you ever seriously contemplated quitting?
Absolutely. There appear to be many hurdles when it comes to owning a business (especially on the legal end). My fear of getting started with those hurdles made me delay making my business into a source of income for a long time. I was afraid of making legal mistakes so I just grew a following and readership without any real plans for monetizing it and making it a real business. However, once I just sat down and figured out exactly what legally needed to be done to start a legitimate business, it was easy! I wish I would have done it sooner.
- Did you ever fail or make a substantial mistake in business or organization? Any serious Challenges? How did you overcome and resolve it?
I would say the biggest mistake I have made thus far is not listening to my audience. This was seriously from a chapter of a book I am making up called “listen to your audience 101”. I polled my people about what they wanted most from me next – did they want in person workshops, did they want one on one consultations, did they want products – what could I give them that would help them achieve their Intentional Bookshelf and be of true value to their family? I got a resounding YES for products. The other options weren’t as popular at all. What did I do? I did an in-person workshop. It was so hard to sell the tickets, I had a small group and did not meet my goal of selling out. I believe the attendees truly got amazing value at the workshop, but it wasn’t easy for people to say yes to come. I didn’t listen to my audience.
After that I took a step back and thought to myself – okay, all of the options I provided align with my skills and what I want my business to look like. Why don’t I just give the people what they want? So, I created a product. And it sold out. Like I said, “Listen to your Audience 101”.
- What action has the most impact that you’ve taken to reach your goal/s?
I hired a writing and publishing coach to help me get my book not only written but in the right channels, marketed properly and into the hands of many. That was hands down the best action I have taken and it was what kick-started my business and the relationships I have been able to create from then on.
A bonus action is that I take the time to make meaningful connections with people. I answer emails when people send them to me. I stay up late to connect with parents who want to talk about books. I want people to know I am there for them, and it’s very important to me that my relationships are real and true.
- What would you tell your younger/earlier self? Any piece of advice?
I would say it’s okay to change your mind and you won’t disappoint anyone who loves you. I was so nervous starting a business. I mentioned, I have a degree in engineering. Yes, I have a great and amazing full time job, but I wanted more – I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit about myself. But I have been afraid to really embrace that and I think it is because of what people would think about me. I want to be bold and it to be ok to decide I’m not a one-track girl. It’s okay to change my mind and the people who love me are proud.
- What the best advice YOU’VE ever received about pursuing your vision?
My sweet husband is always keeping me focused and on track. He reminds me constantly about what my why is, what is it that I am trying to tell people – what is my message, what is my purpose? If what I am creating, or writing, or marketing does not fit within that message, it does not belong in my business. If it doesn’t all lead back to “we are what we read” and The Intentional Bookshelf is has to go, it doesn’t have a place here.
- Has having success in your business/organization or money changed you? In what ways?
It has. It has made me a more charitable, giving and grateful person. The more success I see in my life and the more money I see come in, the more I want to give to others. The more I want to spread success and wealth into the hands of more people.
- What does a typical work day look like for you?
I have the amazing luxury of having a full time job that is also remote. We are about to move (seriously, next week!) and so I’ll be sharing what my day will look like very very soon. I wake up, slowly and with thoughtfulness. I take a moment to breathe. I go with my husband to get my daughter up and we have a quiet but fun breakfast together. I give them both a kiss and a squeeze and they’re off for the day (husband to work, AJ to preschool). I’ll ease into my programming for the day after a shower and a warm cup of coffee. I’ll work until I’m feeling unmotivated (lunch time) and take a short break. Then it’s back to finishing up the last of my programming. I will have anywhere between 2-3 hours until my family comes home so I will look at my list of tasks (I only choose 3 main ones to work on daily) and get those knocked out. Some days it is packaging up orders, other days it’s writing content. Then my family comes home and it’s all about us and me and stillness and life.
- How do you juggle your business and being a mom? Any great tips?
I love this question, and I love when I am being asked. I have been “solo parenting” (ie: parenting on my own) for the past 8 months as my husband has been away with the military. So the word juggle is so accurate. I am very intentional and purposeful with my time. I work best when I am not multi-tasking and I hate to divide my attention. When I am working, I need my space and to be alone – otherwise guilt sets in and I can’t concentrate. When I am with my daughter, I am there. My phone is away. My computer is out of sight. It’s just us. We play, we read, we color. I think our children notice when we are present and truly there with them. I want my daughter to look up into my eyes and know I’m looking back at her and not off into the future or day dreaming. My best tip is to make a schedule if you need one to divide your time properly. It’s hard to hold a baby who just wants to play while trying to work. You’ll end up frustrated that you got nothing done and guilty that you couldn’t be there with you little.
- Tell us about your most successful launch. What was it for and what really moved the needle for you to make it a success?
My most successful launch was my first one! It was a bit of a beta test to see the interest of my audience and it turns out they are really quite interested in what I have to offer. I created summer reading packages themed around a certain topic – this one was animals. I sold every single one I created and even had several people begging for more. Because of this, I am planning to sell seasonal reading packages to help parents foster a love of reading with their children and slowly build their intentional bookshelf for their family through each new package.
- Stevie Wonder or The Beatles? (this, I personally must know.) 🙂
Samantha Munoz is a mother, wife, engineer, bibliophile and avid coffee drinker. She is also the expert kid’s lit curator at Addison Reads and author of The Intentional Bookshelf. Sam helps parents as they search for the perfect books for their little ones and helps moms and dads build a library with a purpose. Once a seriously overwhelmed and stressed out parent herself, Sam turns to children’s literature for the answers to all of her parenting dilemmas. She loves when it rains because it gives her an excuse to stay inside and read with her daughter!