Entrepreneur stories: Charlii Testar
06 December 2022
Charlii Testar studied Creative Advertising at Falmouth before joining Launchpad to develop her children’s story book idea. We caught up with Charlii to find out more about her entrepreneurship experience.
Tell us about your book, how did the idea come about?
I was doing the Launchpad Summer Start-up Academy and a coach was hosting a masterclass in networking. One task we did was standing up and talking a little bit about yourself. I revealed that in my spare time I like to write children’s books. Later, I was talking to a Launchpad student about how I wanted to tackle the problem that there are few resources for children to learn about emotional intelligence. They exclaimed - 'you write children’s books Charlii, why don’t you do children’s books with emotional intelligence?' - and the idea was born!
What is the key message you’re trying to get across in them?
The key messaging in my books is the emotional intelligence side as well as inclusivity. In case anyone isn’t sure what emotional intelligence is, it’s the way in which we manage and perceive our own emotions as well as others’. Studies have shown that with a high emotional intelligence children can build healthier relationships, can do better at school, and carry these skills with them into adulthood.
On inclusivity, I feel like it’s incredibly valuable for my books to be as inclusive as possible. In literature there’s little representation of non-binary characters and I wanted to be one of the first to publish a children’s book with a gender-neutral main character. I deliberately made Boo Boo Finnegan non-binary, using ‘they/them’ pronouns because one of my close friends is transgender. When talking to them, they mentioned how the world wasn’t welcoming to them as they grew up. I want to change that, challenging the norm.
You do the illustrations yourself, is the Boo Boo Finnegan character inspired by anything?
Yes, I love illustrating my books. It’s very relaxing! Boo Boo Finnegan is inspired by dreams. They often pop in, cause havoc and munch noisily on oranges! In the real world, I’m inspired by The Moomins, Mr Men and Japanese anime. There’s one anime called Bananya which is very silly and fun where cats bounce around in banana skins. I love it.
Who are the books aimed at, and how are they being received so far?
My books are for ages three to six and are being received well by parents and children. At my first book launch in November the children were really engaged, clapping and singing along which made me smile. To see how my books cause such positivity is an amazing feeling.
Tell us about your journey at Launchpad?
I first found out about Launchpad via its Summer Start-up Academy. I knew it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss - six-weeks of building a business and being paid to be there looked amazing, and it truly was.
Upon arriving at Launchpad, I was extremely nervous as I didn’t know anyone. Quickly I was reassured as everyone was very friendly. During the start-up academy not only did I make lots of friends, but also gained the confidence to expand my network through various masterclasses.
I’ve learnt from my coach that my ‘network is my net worth’, to take the bull by the horns and just get out there!
I joined the final Launchpad cohort in September to continue developing my books. One of my key successes so far was self-publishing my book and having a launch at Raze the Roof. Both were nerve-racking, but experiences that I will never forget.
You only started this idea in the summer and have already incorporated as a business, how does that feel?
Everything has happened so fast… it feels amazing to see my MVP printed and making children laugh and smile.
What are the key priorities for you over the next few months?
One of my key priorities is selling online. I’m setting a business bank account up currently and am very excited to be able to sell on social media. I also want to start advertising online and get an endorsement from a professional in the field of child psychology so I can target schools.
Any advice you’d give someone thinking of turning their idea into a business?
If someone was thinking of starting a business I would say speak to Launchpad! Everyone is very helpful, and the positive environment helps you foster your ideas.