Start:ME Spotlight:

Veoleo

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Entrepreneur

Janike Ruginis Gross

Community

East Lake

What the business does

Independent publisher selling Spanish bilingual children's books for Spanish speaking and learning families

Why did you start Veoleo and what was the story behind its creation?

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"All I wanted for my son were books that we would both enjoy reading while supporting his language acquisition.The struggle was that I could not find the right Spanish children's books for my then 8 month old"

The idea to start Veoleo, an indie press, was born in January 2018, the same month my grandfather, an immigrant from Colombia, passed away. Our conversation about his life evolved into my sister and I discussing the importance of sharing our love of reading and Spanish language to younger generations because he was an avid learning and reader. At the same time, I embarked on the journey of raising a Spanish bilingual child. All I wanted for my son were books that we would both enjoy reading while supporting his language acquisition. These books would encourage independent reading, with simple storylines, interesting and colorful illustrations, and, most importantly, a fictional world with authentic text in Spanish that spoke to our Latin American heritage. The struggle was that I could not find the right Spanish children's books for my then 8 month old. That conversation we had in January concluded with a statement: my sister, Alexis, and I would create those books. Between Alexis' extensive professional legal background and mine as a scholar in Latin American language and culture, we had the professional skills and the drive to materialize our idea. My sister and I launched Veoleo by October 2018 with our first book titled, ?D?nde est? el coqu?? Un cuento sobre una ranita cantante.

How are the main characters in your stories? How did you come up with them?

"Each animal in the book, as a result, is an imaginative representation of animals that are native to the region and that we personally love"

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We knew we wanted our first book to focus on animals. Specifically, animals that are representative of Latin American and Caribbean fauna. Each animal in the book, as a result, is an imaginative representation of animals that are native to the region and that we personally love. When we teamed up with our illustrator, Eduardo Espada, we had a long discussion of what we wanted to evoke with each character. It was clear that we wanted characters that had a life of their own, capable of generating individual, unique story. The word ?whimsical? was our guiding light throughout the creative process. The result are characters like the iguana, who we have named the abuela because of her wise eyes and glasses, a family of caimans that play soccer, sloths that peacefully sleep under the moonlight, and our main character, a coqu?, has playful eyes and dance moves. Don?t be surprised to find these characters taking on all new adventures in our next book!

What is the one thing you most want people to take away when they read a Veoleo book?

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"Joy. We want parents and children to find joy in each unique character and their story."

Joy. We want parents and children to find joy in each unique character and their story. We want them to find joy in learning about and connecting with Latin American and Caribbean culture. We want to bring joy to learning two languages because languages open the doors for every child to develop empathy and a deeper understanding of unique cultures and histories. We want each parent and small reader to find joy in connecting with each other while reading and learning.

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