“One of the things I struggled with was charging the correct prices for my services. I had a poverty mentality and it followed me for so many years coming from a working-class background. I just love what I did in a creative manner and would work for free. Publishing takes time, commitment, focus, and attention to detail. I think my highs came from authors who were so emotional and grateful for me helping them to tell their stories, that is my greatest joy”.
Winsome Duncan joins our list of Black female entrepreneurs who we have interviewed showcasing the fastest growing group of business owners but the least funded. Winsome is an author and publisher. Her bestselling children’s book “Look Like Me” is among her range of 15 children’s books. The book represents voices of BAME children from 7-12-year-old. Her ambitions do not stop there, offering other authors the opportunity to publish and helping them to have a platform their work. As with any business for Winsome it does not come without it’s challenges and joys.
- How did you get into publishing?
Ans: I published my first book in 2006, it was called ‘The Food Spiral’ which was a collection of 21 poems addressing body image and identity. My self-publishing company was called ‘The Healing Factory Publications’. I did try to get a traditional deal however; I received several rejection letters. I called a printer and they showed me how I could print physical copies of my book myself this was before Amazon KDP print on demand services. I only published my own books under that brand. Then five years ago I decided to expand my income stream to create Peaches Publications to help other budding authors like me to publish their books without the commercial industry support of a traditional publisher.
This year I set up Look Like Me Ltd Social Enterprise in order to create a diverse book that features black main characters as a protagonist. During lockdown I worked over a 3-month period with 30 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children aged 7-12 years old. The demand was so huge that we ended up working with their siblings, also from the ages of 4 – 13. I could not turn away. The children drew characters for their book, thought of names and gave ideas and concepts. Although, I have been in the best sellers list before this was my first number 1 children’s book. We have so much support from our local community and celebrities. We managed to raise more than £1,100 to produce The Popcorn House – Teamwork Makes The Dream Work.
- Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?
Ans: In 2003 when I performed my poetry at Soul Food and I got paid £50 which was the embers of my entrepreneurial journey. Up to that point, I was severely depressed and unhappy with the telecoms job I was working in. My shift was 7am to 4pm and I am so not a morning person and was often late. I am a straight-up night owl. It was then that I learnt I could be paid for my creative talents and it just grew from there. From poetry to CD’s to live band performances and I finally decided to leave my job and start my own businesses using my credit cards to sustain income.
- What is your USP?
Ans: Ermmm good question, probably my sense of humour and my ability to connect with others on a soul level and make them smile through their tears.
- What have been some of the challenges and joys of building a business?
Ans: My biggest challenge was having self-belief, when I trained with motivational speaker Les Brown he taught me how to change my thoughts into a positive narrative. Now I look at my cup of life as half full and sometimes overflowing. One of the things I struggled with was charging the correct prices for my services. I had a poverty mentality and it followed me for so many years coming from a working-class background. I just love what I did in a creative manner and would work for free. Publishing takes time, commitment, focus, and attention to detail. I think my highs came from authors who were so emotional and grateful for me helping them to tell their stories, that is my greatest joy. Also, winning my five awards was a great confidence boost, it simply means that I am an Expert in my field.
- What other products do you sell?
Ans: I have a string of products and services. My books, JUST WRITE IT workbooks, audiobook CD’s, workshops, masterclasses, publishing packages, hosting, singing, and poetry.
- Black women are the fastest-growing group of SMEs what would you say to the financiers who are afraid to fund them?
Ans: It is clear to see that when we get financial backing and business mentoring support, we can level the playing field in any industry with our white counterparts. Black Panther has clearly demonstrated a need for Black led content. The reason why it was so successful was simply down to the fact that it had a huge investment, a well-oiled marketing machine as well as a strong brand behind it. To the financiers out there I would also say bet on black (she smiles).
- How has lockdown shaped your business?
Ans: My business has been phenomenal, so much so, that we have closed submissions till November. I will only be taking on 2 manuscripts per month, while I focus on the promotion of my number 1 bestselling children’s book ‘The Popcorn House’. It has forced me to expand my business and go online and teach the one to many models so I can reach the masses. I am also going to be creating online courses to teach budding authors how to write and create income streams, write books and establish authors on how to set up their book business.
Find out more about Winsome.
Look Like Me book: www.looklikeme.co.uk
Amazon author page: https://amzn.to/3dNwHwh
Website: www.peachespublications.co.uk If you are a Black or Asian SME and and would like to share your journey get in touch: