“We want to create a product that people love and are really loyal to.”—Fourbears founder Juliette Eames
How do you get children interested in family stories?
This is a questions asked many times by many parents, searching for ways to educate youth on the lives of ancestors. Family heritage is important, but how do you get kids excited? Most children want to do things like crayon unsanctioned pictures on the wall or crush cornflakes on every item of furniture in the house. And surprisingly, these are not great segues into examining branches of a family tree.
So what do kids love? Dazzling children’s books, illustrated in colorful, unique ways. Juliette Eames — both mother and founder of Fourbears — wanted to find a fun way to teach her son about his namesake. She ended up creating a personalized children’s book about where his name came from and based upon the positive reaction, wondered if others would enjoy the same.
She created a prototype centered on the idea of a personalized children’s book that tells the story of individuals or the legacy of their own family. And as a new entrepreneur, she was learning on the fly.
“It’s been a very gradual step into entrepreneurship for me,” said Eames. “I did not think I would be starting this but it has just felt really natural and the right thing to do. The hardest part of this process has been getting a prototype out there. I had to find an illustrator who would illustrate the book — that was really unknown, I was super unfamiliar with illustrators. And I had to figure out how I was going to write it.”
With prototype in hand, Eames showed up to the Pinners Conference in Atlanta to see if anyone was interested. She threw together a few forms to capture any interested parties and the information needed to personalize their own children’s book. Just like that, Fourbears had its first customers.
“At the time it was barely a concept, I only had a prototype,” said Eames. “That’s when I realized this is something people want. There was a lot of excitement from people at the conference and that was a huge confidence booster for me.”
Eames quickly realized that more customers meant Fourbears needed a better way of producing customized children’s books. Previously, Eames had written the content herself, had an illustrator draw each page, and then printing took about two weeks. As more people expressed interest, this method became less of an option and Eames began to explore different growth avenues.
“We really wanted to automate the process,” said Eames. “As more and more customers were interested in the project, we knew we needed to scale it. That’s when we decided to automate this, we want to have a platform where people can log on, essentially fill out a Mad Lib and give us the information we need to create a book, and then we’ll have a digital rendering on the site so people can see what is going into the book.”
Building a platform requires money, something that most early-stage entrepreneurs don’t have. Over the course of 30 days, Eames put together framework for a Kickstarter campaign to fund the platform and launched at the end of October. The goal of $10,000 was quickly met and at the time of this writing, backers have supplied over $22,000 towards Fourbears and an automated platform.
After the Kickstarter ends on December 8, Eames hopes to have the new platform rearing to go by February 2018. At that point, the automation of personalized children’s books begins.
“We want to create a product that people love and are really loyal to,” said Eames. “We’ve seen that before with our early adopters — we send them these books and in the process, we’ve gotten to know them, their families, and their past. A lot of the families we work with, the individual who the book is about has passed away. It’s something really, really special to them, a way to commemorate this person’s life. As we’ve worked with these different customers, we’ve grown close to them and developed real relationships. It’s a really unique process and something we hope can continue. Help people commemorate these lives and share these stories with their children.”