It is beyond exciting to share that we are finally registered as a company, and with this milestone, it felt apt to look back on our journey as a team and reflect on some of our achievements together.
‘Adventures with Amara’ was conceptualised in one of our numerous crazy brainstorming sessions, inspired by the United Nations’ 17 Goals for Sustainable Development. We felt compelled to provide our take on destigmatising taboo subjects, building awareness around topics important to us and essentially creating the books we didn’t have whilst growing up. We realised quite soon how we could use our youth to our advantage, offering a unique perspective on topical issues that we connect to. Our aim was to provide a modern and relevant moral influence and education, an extension of the more traditional basic morals taught in many existing children’s books. As a team of girls from primarily ethnic minorities, we felt it very important to base our stories around a female character of colour, as minorities are so often underrepresented in children’s literature, and by prioritising diversity we aim to emphasise inclusivity and validate our readers belief in their own importance and value. With a strong concept in mind, we worked on making our ideas come to life.
RESEARCH AND CREATION
Our next stage began and consisted of extensive research into the children’s’ book market, illustration & writing styles and the psychology of young children. Based on this, we chose the three subjects we wanted to base our books on the environment, mental wellbeing and discrimination, covering the vast majority of the United Nations Goals. These issues are very topical, and they come up all the time in the news, and as a child it can be quite overwhelming to make sense of it all, this is why we wanted to build up a foundation on these topics and hope that our books are used as a prompt start up a conversation between children and parents. Through continuous team discussions, writing and editing we finalised our three storylines leading onto the illustration stage which was distributed among the marketing team. Our market research revealed that there was a gap in the market for children’s books with digital content, and we felt it important to adapt to the everchanging world of technological advancement. We worked on adding a digital platform that readers can further enhance their learning and engagement with the topics, taking the experience of Adventures with Amara beyond the pages of the books. In what has become our style as a team, under a very tight turnaround time, we managed to turn our ambitious ideas into a reality, and we were ready to share our project with everyone.
I think it would be fair to say, we surpassed all our initial expectations when we launched the book. Our first sales experience was in the heart of London at the Spitalfields trade fair where we far exceeded all our sales targets and pitched to many corporate professionals with several opportunities arising as a result. Our books sold out in less than two weeks (which none of us anticipated), so we ordered more and replicated our Spitalfields success at other trade fairs and sales opportunities at HSBC and Morgan Stanley’s head office. Adventures with Amara received its stamp of approval from experts working in education, sustainability and healthcare, to WHSmith and the British Library and even the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan! Through readings at primary school and feedback from parents, we felt extremely rewarded to know that young children had successfully managed to identify the key messages of our books and felt inspired by the books in many different ways whether it’s our female lead ‘showing that girls can do anything boys can do’ or it’s motivating them to write and illustrate their own stories. It’s always amazing to see the impact that our books can have on young minds and to hear about the small details that really resonate with people.
Under Young Enterprise, we had the opportunity to compete in our regional finals as well as the South London finals, picking up awards for the ‘Best Digital Presence’, ‘Best Teamwork’ and ‘Best Overall Company'. After becoming independent of Young Enterprise, we went on to be awarded a Global Youth Award for ‘Educational Innovation’ and our team are all now ‘Global Youth Ambassadors’, with the opportunity to participate and judge the 2021 awards. At the awards ceremony we met a whole host of amazing young people doing inspiring work and so to be recognised amongst them was truly such an honour.
As lockdown was introduced by March 2020, we, just like all businesses, had to adapt to a new way of working; our cake filled team meetings were replaced with remote zoom meetings but nevertheless just as fun and collaborative. With all the extra time on our hands, we endeavoured to produce another book to be released on the Kindle Store. Given the current coronavirus pandemic, it felt fitting to base the story on healthcare, teaching children key tips on staying healthy and reducing the fear around hospitals. During lockdown, we also represented the UK in the AmCham EU Youth Entrepreneurship Award 2020 and made it to the finals. Once again with tight turnaround times, we managed to create a pitch, a teaser video and a full business plan in a matter of days. Although we were not named winners, we are very proud to have made it so far as the youngest team in history to participate amongst such high calibre competitors. Two of our team members were invited onto SwitchRadio to talk about Adventures with Amara. We were also named as one of the 20 most promising start-ups by TransferWise 20 under 20 with Nico Rosberg, a sustainability entrepreneur and Formula 1 World Champion, describing Adventures with Amara as an ‘innovative idea... raising the next generation in full awareness and tolerance, embracing diversity.’
By October 2020, the team embarked on our respective journeys, at university, apprenticeships or gap years, but we have continued to work remotely on exciting projects. As an official company, we can finally share our 4th book ‘There’s Nothing to Fear Here’ on the Kindle Store, which will be available by the end of the week so keep an eye out!
- Arushi Bajpai