For many people, writing a book is on their list of life goals: a big-reach dream that seems to call us….but that is nearly impossible to actually do.
Karlin Housen is determined to help people get their book published by creating the space for authors (both young and old) to create stories that connect, enrich, and nurture.
As founder of Brooklyn Publishing, Karlin has passionately and fearlessly blazed her career path by establishing a company based on meaningful core values and a vision of legacy. She remains true to her ideals and intentional in her work, and seeks to help others “be the face of kindness.”
On today’s Talking Shop, Karlin shares the history behind her own book-writing journey, how Brooklyn Publishing works with authors through the writing process, and why we all need to be our own biggest cheerleaders. She is an inspiration to me, reminding me powerfully to give my heart and effort to my inspired calling, courageously define my vision and values, and let my progress — no matter how small — be my motivation to move forward. She’s going to wow you, too.
Everyone, meet Karlin!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m just a girl born and raised in Brooklyn, New York that always knew she was meant for so much more than what was the status quo growing up! I am from Caribbean descent — Trinidad and Tobago. I moved to Florida for the suburban life, palm trees, and flip flops…and most of all, no more snow! I met and married my husband Atiba, and gave birth to my first child Karryl in Brooklyn, then we moved to Florida because I wanted a house with a big backyard, palm trees, and a cul-de-sac! I wanted a different trajectory for my family’s life. I later gave birth to my daughter Anessa and then there was four!
I worked in corporate America for a while but always had a yearning to be my own boss, to be
creative, expressive, and cultivate a different type of work environment for myself. I would later
find out that this yearning was my entrepreneurial spirit yelling at me to get out! Finally, with some Come-to-Jesus conversations with my family and best friend, I let the entrepreneur out and have enjoyed every, scary, funny, lonely, exhilarating, and loving moment it has brought and continues to bring me.
How did Brooklyn Publishing get started?
I absolutely love this question because I never get tired of telling the story! So while I was working in corporate America, trying to figure out why I always felt like I was supposed to be doing
something else, I joined a Steering Committee that adopted a Title 1 Elementary School. Title 1
schools receive federal funds for low-income students.
At this time, my son was enrolled in Lavilla Magnet Middle School of the Arts. A good friend and
colleague who was also on the steering committee asked me to have my son write and illustrate
a book for the kids at the school. I immediately looked at her like she was crazy — she looked at me
like she asked me something as simple as handing her a pen off my desk!
After a week of practically making me believe writing a book would be effortless because my son
was in art school, I decided to ask my son what he thought about it. Karryl has such a go-with-the-flow personality, he immediately said, “Sure why not?” We then went about the business of writing this book. We asked ourselves, what would the book be about? What would we call it? How would we print it? All these questions, we would answer quicker than expected. We decided to write about bullying. We named the book Max’s Story and would print 8.5 x 11 paper copies in the office copy room.
We wrote the book, printed the copies, and sent it off to the elementary school. The outpouring of
appreciation, thank you cards, posters, and pure celebration for the book we wrote was
heartwarming, to say the least. I told myself and colleague that one day, I would make this into an
actual book! She replied, “You will!” in such a reassuring way!
Fast forward to a few years later. I was no longer working at that company and was out attending a networking event. I bump into a former colleague that was on that same steering committee that I had not seen in over 2 years. The first thing she asked me was, “Did you ever publish the book?” I
felt a feeling of guilt and disappointment set in almost immediately. All these questions raced
through my mind. How did I totally forget what I said I would do? I softly answered her, no. We
talked a bit more, then she leaned in and said one last time, “Karlin, you need to publish that book!” It was as if God was speaking directly through her to me. I went home, told my family, and began working to create what is now the Max the Blue Jay Kindness book Series, published by my
independently-owned company, Brooklyn Publishing.
What makes you passionate about what you do?
By nature, I am a storyteller and helping those who have something to say, say it. I’m passionate
about creative collaboration and being intentional to make this world better than how I met it.
What is the vision of Brooklyn Publishing, and how does it guide what you do?
To leave a legacy of creators, inclusivity, and empathy through books, events, and service that
makes people proud to be a part of the Brooklyn Publishing Family. We want our books to connect
souls, enrich minds, and nurture creators. At the end of the day, I’m building this company to leave a legacy of kindness and build generational prosperity for my children’s children. I lead this company by knowing that what we do is much bigger than me.
What values are most important to your business?
I remember doing an exercise about core values for a non-profit I worked for a few years back, so I was ready when it became time to choose what core values I wanted for Brooklyn Publishing. I
can literally say that we as a company embody these values daily. They are the foundation of who we are and what we believe to be Brooklyn Publishing: Integrity, Empathy, Transformative, Positivity, Imagination, Freedom, Mindfulness, Kindness, Vision, Resourcefulness.
What is the creation and publishing process like for your authors?
Brooklyn Publishing works directly with our authors to create books they can be proud of. Each
Author Project takes approximately 6-8 months from beginning to end. We define clear goals,
expectations, and guidance that are easy to follow. We believe that mentorship, collaboration, and
transformation is the recipe for ensuring our authors have the best and most productive experience while creating their book. In the end, our authors know for sure they have a book their readers can connect to.
What kind of authors and creators does Brooklyn Publishing work with? Who are your services aimed at?
We’ve decided to be very intentional with what type of authors we work with. Brooklyn Publishing works with adults who want to publish children’s books and kids that would like to publish a book of their own (children’s book or a YA novel). We didn’t start off knowing this, but as time passed, it was made clear that the heart and soul of the company were in publishing children’s books.
What have been some of the most rewarding moments of your work? The most challenging?
The most rewarding moments — I have two that stick out the most. Creating Max the Blue Jay, our
Kindness Bird character was sheer brilliance. He was created by my son Karryl. I can see so much
of my son in that bird, it’s humbling. My son is strong, kind, and compassionate, and knows what
he stands for.
The second rewarding moment happened when I met and began working with Natalliah Bowdoin, our first Young Author. She was shy and an intelligent book worm who grew into a determined, outgoing, and confident published author. To watch her lead discussion panel groups around the work she created was pure bliss.
The most challenging would have to be wearing the social media and marketing hat at my
company. I remember creating my first website, the experience almost took me out! I’m better
at it today but know there’s definitely someone who can get what we do and market it better. I can’t wait to meet them.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a female entrepreneur?
I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to trust my gut and to let my friends/family off the
hook. We often look to those closest to us to keep cheering us on and motivating us. The truth is,
they’re our family and friends first. We have to learn how to cheer ourselves on, in every moment, even the little things. Have a mini-celebration because you replied to that email and made that
phone call today! It helps to not wait for someone to reassure you that you’re doing a great job.
Then when you do get that support and cheering section, it’s the cherry on top! I’ve learned to
make progress no matter how small, and let that be the thing that inspires me to keep going.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
It has been said many times, I absolutely believe every word. Don’t give up, trust the process. You
will never get to the end because there will always be something else that inspires you to create
and be more than what you are today. Enjoy the journey of every goal you set out to accomplish,
its the best part, trust me! I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger entrepreneurial self
this valuable lesson. Thankfully, I’ve learned!
The Fun Qs:
What is your favorite out-of-office activity?
Definitely shopping, especially things for the home. I’m an interior designer in my head! Ha! I
recently fell in love with houseplants and my outside garden during the quarantine. I call them my plant babies, and yes, I’ve named every potted plant I have so far. I talk to them and tell them how gorgeous they are; I worry about them not getting enough light and water. These plants have somehow found a way into my heart and soul.
What is your favorite dish?
I’m from the Islands, so my favorite dish is a Trinidadian specialty called “Roti.” You generally eat it with curry chicken, shrimp, or beef. It resembles a burrito when wrapped, but I like to eat mine separated, with the protein on the side.
What was the best movie you saw recently?
The best movie I saw recently was called Just Mercy, starring Jamie Fox and Michael B Jordon. It
was a true story about a young lawyer Bryan Stevenson making history through his battle for
justice. Sad but uplifting. I love a good movie that makes me cry, but so do the Publix
Thanksgiving commercials, ha!
What makes you laugh?
My husband really knows how to make me laugh. It’s one of the reasons I married him, he literally
won’t let me stay upset or sad for too long. He knows me better than I know myself at times. Ahhh,
the power of love is real.