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Name: Kerrine Bryan
Business: Butterfly Books Limited
Location: London, United Kingdom
Industry: Media & Publishing
Reason for starting? I am a chartered electrical engineer and have seen first-hand the difficulty in finding qualified engineers. At the same time, I fell into engineering by chance and had no idea what it was until I was 17. The common misconception of engineering is that it is a dirty hands-on job, which is not normally for women. If people knew what it really entailed, then more people might be interested and there would be less of a skills gap problem. I felt that existing children’s books only covered a small range of careers such as doctors, nurses, firemen, train drivers and that if children were exposed to a wider range of careers this could have an impact on their study and career choices later in life. Gender bias also starts at a young age, so by introducing characters such as a female engineer or a male nurse, this could change perceptions from an early age.
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How do you define success? Helping or inspiring others. It’s great when I visit schools with our books and see the immediate impact it has on children’s views and perceptions of certain careers. The original idea of the books stems from my experience as an engineer, and just like engineering, the highlight of the books is seeing our work and ideas come to life in order to solve a real-life problem.
Biggest success: It is very satisfying when our books receive positive responses and recognition, particularly with all of the hard work that we put into it. ‘My Mummy is an Engineer’ won the 2016 Bronze Wishing Shelf Book award and was a finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards and ‘My Mummy is a Plumber’ was shortlisted for the 2016 Rubery Book Award. I recently received a recognition award from AFBE-UK for inspiring the next generation of engineers. This is by far my biggest success as my motivation in creating the books and the aim of our company is to inspire the next generation in order to reduce gender bias in professions.
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What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? The biggest challenge for any self-publisher or independent publisher is sales and marketing. This requires the greatest effort, as it is very difficult to get books into the mainstream market without the backing of a large traditional publisher. However, we are passionate about our product and the changes it can make so we are willing to put in the extra effort! We have attended as many publishing conferences and events as we can in order to learn the ins and outs of sales and marketing in the publishing industry. We are gradually building contacts and networks, enabling our books to become more visible and accessible to our target market.
I recently became a mother and relocated to New York, USA. As my publishing business is a UK based company it has required me to make changes in the way that we operate as well as manage my time around my daughter. However, it has also enabled me to start promoting the books in the USA more effectively.
Who is your most important role model? My most important role model is my mother who is always positive, no matter what the situation. She has taught me to try and see the positive in all situations. In terms of Butterfly Books, this way of thinking has helped me in my journey of growing the business. I try to learn as much as I can from failure to help me improve when making future decisions.
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Edited by The Story Exchange