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Raleigh entrepreneur builds coloring book business to celebrate diversity

For the last two years, Latoya Nicole, through her company Entrepreneurs Color Too, has been working hard to fill a diversity gap.

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Latoya Nicole, owner of Entrepreneurs Color Too
By
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
, Go Ask Mom editor
For the last two years, Latoya Nicole, through her company Entrepreneurs Color Too, has been working hard to fill a diversity gap. She created a series of coloring books that celebrate women of color and their diversity. With titles including "80s Ladies," "24 Shades of Business" and the HBCU-inspired "Alma Mater," she seeks to offer up an opportunity for all women to be inspired and get creative. " Since 2018, she's sold thousands of copies of her coloring books. "24 Shades of Business" was even endorsed in "O, The Oprah Magazine."
Now she has two new books for moms and their daughters in mind. "Me and My" is a mommy-and-me coloring book. And "Mom and Teen" is a prompt journal aimed at strengthening the mother-daughter bond.

The mommy and me coloring book celebrates the joy of motherhood with illustrations of moms and daughters crafting, braiding natural hair and traveling. It also contains crossword puzzles, activities and motivational quotes. The mom and teen journal includes activities and coloring pages, guided prompts and provides plenty of free space for writing about whatever comes to your mind, Nicole, who lives in Raleigh, tells me.

In addition to being an author and working in marketing and social media, Nicole also is a mental health counseling professional and works for a large health care company. I checked in with Nicole to learn more about her coloring books and journal. Here's a Q&A.

Go Ask Mom: You launched your coloring book series in 2018. What was your aha moment for the series? Why did you want to create it?
Latoya Nicole: It all started due to a series of events. I was frustrated and overwhelmed at work, I prayed and then had the idea. So, I started researching. But when I looked around at the other books already out there, I couldn’t find any that looked like me, so I knew I had to create it. I wanted my community, including friends and family, to be able to see reflections of themselves. And with that, 24 Shades of Business was born and then it grew into a series.
GAM: You recently came out with a coloring book for moms and daughters and a prompt journal for moms and their teens. What was the inspiration for those?
LN: A lot of my following on social media are moms, and specifically moms of daughters. During quarantine, they needed something creative and fun to do with their children. I decided to help by creating the mommy and me series. The coloring book is for younger children and mom to color together. The journal is for tweens/teens and their mom. I wanted to also pay homage to mothers by including things I did with my mother growing up, so I used parts of my life as inspiration for the books.
GAM: Studies show that very few books and activities feature kids and families of color. Why is it so important for kids to see people like themselves doing things they do with their families in the books and activities they take part in? For example, your books include a picture of braiding natural hair. Were you able to see images like that in books when you were a child?
LN: When I was growing up, one of the few books I can recall that had images of a young girl that I could relate to was Corduroy. It's pretty easy to remember because there weren't many. This is why it was and is so important to me to be sure the illustrations in my books are realistic and diverse.

In 1990, Rudine Sims Bishop, professor emerita of education at The Ohio State University, stated, “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.” Children develop a sense of self at a really young age, so it is imperative to see themselves in books and on book covers.

GAM: Life is hard right now, to put it mildly. How has being creative helped you navigate these times? How do you hope your coloring book and journal will help families?
LN: Life is certainly different right now, and adults and children are discovering the power of creativity to help shift the focus from negative issues. Coloring books and journals are great ways to boost creativity, calm the mind, exercise motor skills, and create a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. I want families to be empowered and to bond even more now than ever.
GAM: What are you working on next?
LN: I’m continuing to work on creating more coloring books, largely for adults but I’m also working to produce a line of colored pencils hopefully, by the end of the year.

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