Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Kickstart This: Queen Girls

Several weeks ago I received an email about Queen Girls, a new series of picture books featuring the stories of real women from history told as though they were fairy tales, and was immediately intrigued! I have always felt as thought many of these women's stories are magical, so to learn that there are others who not only agree but who have the talent to create something this beautiful is remarkable!

Earlier in December, before I got terribly sick, I was able to chat a bit with Andrea Doshi, one of the three amazing young women involved in the Queen Girls project. They have since met their original funding goal, but I still recommend backing this project. The artwork is beautiful and the stories are so very important!

SRPS: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? What's your background? What inspires you?

AD: Of course! My name is Andrea and I was born and raised in Chicago by a multicultural family. I graduated with a Master's in Speech Pathology and worked within the Chicago Public Schools. I have spent the past couple of years on the road, exploring different countries and cultures.  I am inspired by traveling, the beauty of nature, and the true feeling of joy -- and I am determined to share what it feels like to be driven by inspiration with as many children as possible!

SRPS: What is Queen Girls? Where did the inspiration for this project come from?

AD: Queen Girls is a collection of children's books. The stories are based on inspirational women from the past and turned into fairy tales, inspiring girls to follow their dreams. We are using a one for one model meaning for each book purchased, we will donate another to national and international organizations that empower women and fight illiteracy. Our first book is just about ready to be sent over to the printers. It is about Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot in the world!

The Queen Girls project was born about a year ago. After my sister-in-law had her first baby, she started taking a closer look at children's literature and realized that they were full of stereotypes. She saw that there were not many empowering books for girls. When she mentioned the idea, it didn't take me more than a second to make a decision! From my experiences, I know first hand that girls from all over the world struggle to dream. We started brainstorming Queen Girls immediately!

SRPS: Why is it so important to you to tell the stories of real women in history?

AD: Because we believe it will help girls envision their dreams as real. Books often act as mirrors in which young girls see their reflections and the impact of that is huge!

SRPS: The artwork is beautiful. And they convey so much about the lives and dreams of these women on each page. Can you tell me a little about your process of sharing the stories in pictures?

AD: The illustrations have been done by Chiara Fabbri, a good friend of ours from Italy. We all worked together, giving each other space to express our ideas. We've done it remotely since Chiara is in Italy and Jimena is in Charlotte, NC. We've worked slide by slide, with a lot of back and forth, and a lot of love and patience. We've managed to make it work wonderfully and Chiara has surpassed every expectation we could have possibly imagined!

SRPS: Jimena is your sister-in-law and Chiara is a close friend. How has the experience been working together on this project with two women you are also close to personally? Have you learned anything new about yourself or each other?

AD: Where to begin!! We are three extremely passionate women and I would say that is what has gotten us to where we are now! We've spent countless hours connecting remotely. Lots of three-way calls with a talking baby in the background! It's been challenging at times considering we speak 3 different languages and are on 3 different time zones, but we have managed to make it work!

For me, and I think I can say this for all of us, we've learned how important communication is. It is key to understanding one another and making sure everyone is on the same page at all times.
I've had this conversation with Jimena before - working with family can be intense. Sometimes you get to be a little too honest, but at the end of the day, family always is more understanding and loving with each other. It is so special to share this journey with each other!

SRPS: Your Kickstarter campaign is doing well! Do you have any plans for stretch goals?

AD: We are so amazed at the love and support we have already gotten from the community! We cannot believe we've already reached our goal! We want to reach as many kids as possible, so we plan on continuing to spread the love and collecting as many funds as possible to print more copies of Bessie, Queen of the Sky and get them into the hands as as many kids as possible. Stretch goals are being discussed as we speak!

SRPS: After Bessie, Queen of the Sky, what comes next?

AD: We'll continue creating Queens of all kinds! Queen Isadora and Queen Savi are next on the list! Queen Isadora is inspired by the life of Isadora Duncan, the first ballerina of Modern dance, and Queen Savi inspired by the life of Savitribhai Phule, a woman poet, an educationalist and a social reformer.

SRPS: You have been working on this project for a year. How exciting is it to finally see it so close to complete?

AD: I can't believe it has been a whole year! It feels surreal to be honest. It is truly amazing seeing our idea turn into a dream and now our dream into reality. "Almost complete" is far from where we are. We have so many more books to write and so many hands to put books in. This is just the beginning, and the support and love we've received shows how much this type of content is needed and is fueling even more inspiration! We envision creating a community where other authors and illustrators can bring their own Queens on board of the collection, so there is a lot more to come!

SRPS: Where can folks find out more about Queen Girls?

AD: We'll be available on Kickstarter through January 15th. There you can find more information regarding our collection and campaign! We also have our website, where you can go to check the latest updates, as well as checking us out on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Bessie, Queen of the Sky! If you haven't already backed this project, please consider doing so ASAP! We need more inspirational stories like this in the world.

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