By Vivian Nunez
Have you ever dreamed of going into business with your best friend? Does it stay a dream, or in your mind does it turn into a nightmare? Ariana Stein and Patty Rodriguez, have been best friends since the age of twelve and will happily tell you that adding a business level to their friendship was the best decision they've collectively made.
After becoming moms, the duo kickstarted a business partnership with one goal in mind — creating the bilingual children's book series that every Latina mom would love.
“The books aren’t designed to give lengthy, in-depth history lessons, as they're only 22 pages long,” explains Ariana. “Instead the goal is to teach the basics, introduce them to culture, and motivate kids to continue learning additional words and languages. The books have always been about starting the bilingual learning journey with subjects that parents feel a connection with.”
Since its launch, Lil' Libros has steadily become a presence on the shelves of Targets and local bookstores alike. The journey to getting Lil' Libros on those bookshelves though has not been an easy one.
In her episode of Creating Espacios, Patty stated, "I think there's so much strength that can be drawn from a bad day" and told a handful of stories of the ups and downs of building a business with her best friend.
But, those small glimpses weren't enough. Here's a full look at how Ariana and Patty describe their entrepreneurial success with Lil' Libros.
Vivian Nunez: How did Lil’ Libros get its start?
Ariana Stein: It was our passion to ensure our children were raised to be bilingual. Being best friends and knowing each other’s background, both being first generation Latinas, made it easier for us to decide to do this together.
Patty Rodriguez: Ariana and I have known each other since we were 12 years old. We’ve always tried creating something together. There was a time when we actually worked on a hot dog start-up! We were probably 18 at the time. And then there was a time when David Beckham arrived to the states; it was such a big deal back then, we took it as an opportunity to capitalize on it, we ended up making shirts inspired by him! That didn’t turn as planned, but we did it! I think Ariana’s husband still wears the shirts! So I feel that this was always meant to be.
Stein: That’s not it! We also started a bilingual entertainment site. This was actually picking up steam, and going the direction that we wanted it to go, but we weren’t passionate about it. I think this is why it failed, but everything is a lesson. Had we not had the hot dog business, shirt business, entertainment website, we wouldn’t have Lil’ Libros.
Nunez: How would each of you define Lil Libros mission?
Stein: Our mission has always been to introduce bilingualism and encourage parents to read to their children at the earliest age by focusing on subjects they are familiar with, and making it as fun and rewarding as possible.
Rodriguez: Each book we are creating is a seed. A seed we hope a parent plants at home with their child. We want parents and children to love to read, to create those moments together.
Nunez: What's been the biggest entrepreneurial lesson you've learned since starting Lil Libros?
Stein: To be fearless. Not be afraid to ask for anything. The worst thing that you can hear is the word “no.” Rejection can be hurtful and discouraging but this is what makes us stronger. Stronger to succeed and prove everyone that anything is possible.
Nunez: What's key to keep in mind when going into business with a friend?
Stein: Keep in mind when going into business with a friend that sometimes you won’t see eye to eye on certain things. People have different personalities and different perspectives. The only advice we can give is that you need to make sure you will be there for each other no matter what. It’s like a marriage. If something bothers us, we talk about it, and move on.
Rodriguez: You can easily start your own business all by yourself, but what’s the fun in that? I think there is no better feeling than sharing every milestone and setbacks with the person you love.
Nunez: How are the responsibilities divided between you both?
Stein: Patty manages the media and creative portion of the business. I manage the business operations. However, we both do a little bit of everything from creating content, shipping, logistics, etc. We just ensure our areas of expertise are well achieved.
Nunez: Describe the process of getting a book from idea to bookshelf.
Stein: It begins from deciding on a subject, to creating our ideas on a manuscript, meeting with our illustrator and ensuring she understands what we are trying to achieve. Every book has a story behind it and it’s just a matter of making sure that story is portrayed accordingly with our content and illustrations. Once we finalize the manuscript, we send it off to our printing company. The printing process alone can take anywhere from 2-4 months. Once the books arrive into our office, we begin our fulfillment process to get them into the bookshelves.
Nunez: What is in the works for Lil' Libros in the next year?
Rodriguez: There will be two additional titles coming out in Spring of 2017. These titles are currently in the making!