A Drexel University honors student is taking her business to the next level, printing the first book of her children’s series on mental health awareness.
Paris Gramann, the founder of Just Be Books, LLC, is proud of how far she has brought her business in the past six months, fundraising and printing the first copies while expanding her overall product line.
Gramann shared her struggles with depression and other mental health issues in the past, and said she realized that mental health awareness was not being taught to children. She started Just Be Books a few years ago to champion the cause.
In a May interview with the Triangle, Gramann confirmed she had developed an almost-final draft of the first book in her children’s series but was continuing to raise money to begin printing.
She launched a Kickstarter fundraiser to support the growth of her business in August after almost three months of advertising. Gramann said the fundraiser was successful and it has allowed her to take great strides in moving Just Be Books forward.
“Just Be Books is off to the races,” Gramann said. “[Our] August Kickstarter was a hit. [We] raised over $4,000 and had 85 backers, made up of friends, family and total strangers who wanted to support mental health.”
Current items on Gramann’s professional agenda include printing copies of her first book, sewing plush toys and selecting packaging for her products. The funds from her Kickstarter campaign have helped solidify her current product line and put important business practices in action.
“[The campaign helped me] understand how to manage multiple moving parts of small in-house production and make important partnerships with local organizations,” Gramann said.
In addition to the first children’s book, the current product line for Just Be Books includes two plush toys, custom stickers and downloadable material for parents and teachers.
Gramann has worked with numerous teachers and psychologists on further product development. Her team has conducted tests over the past two years with teachers and families of children. These tests have confirmed that the Just Be Books team is on the right track with the products they are creating.
“The plush toys, for example, make a really great opportunity for a child to play ‘pretend’ and facilitate conversations between the happy apple and the sad apple,” Gramann explained. “From [these] interviews, [I have] seen that the types of exercises these products might foster could have an impact in settings like a classroom, playground or even in a child psychologist’s office.”
Ultimately, her “larger dream” is to provide products on social-emotional learning, the process through which children are taught to understand and manage their emotions. Or, as Gramann defines the term, “schools’ version of mental health education.”
While Gramann still has ambitious goals for her business, she has achieved many goals over the past six months. One of her biggest is the plethora of partnerships she has developed with organizations around the area. Readings of the book are planned at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Franny Lou’s Porch in Kensington and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, all in the near future.
And while fundraising from generous donors and collaboration with local organizations have been key in expanding her business, Gramann credits the most growth to those working closely with her.
“I have friends helping to make the stickers, sewing the plush toys, running photoshoots and building lesson plan material for future teachers that are helping the teamwork in classrooms,” Gramann said. “Our team keeps growing with more friends who share the passion for mental health research and advocacy.”
More information on the success of Gramann’s Kickstarter campaign can be found at kickstarter.com. The entire Just Be Books product line can be found at justbebooks.com.