A Black Enterprise "Entrepreneur of the Week," a Hometown Hero honoree by the New Jersey Nets, a Literacy Nation Youth Ambassador and a proud Little Sistah in the Know, Chental-Song Bembry is the author and illustrator of the published children’s book series The Honey Bunch Kids...and she’s in high school!
What is it that you do for a living? What are your day-to-day tasks?
For a living, I am a 15-year old student (at) South Brunswick High School and in my spare time, I run my business, The Honey Bunch Kids, LLC. My children's books are for boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 12.
An avergae day includes everything from looking over my calendar, updating my journal on sales and completed events, answering emails, checking inventory, looking at future possibilities/story lines for The Honey Bunch Kids, attending monthly entrepreneur meetings and networking with other artists/entrepreneurs.
I have been to schools and libraries throughout New Jersey to speak to children on the importance of literacy and how it can help them in their schoolwork and their lives. I’m also very active with a national book club, Little Sistahs in the Know. With this organization, I've done video-conferencing with chapters in California and Texas. I have also made several author appearances with the chapters located here in New Jersey. In the future, I would love to one day develop the characters in "The Honey Bunch Kids" into a successful multi-media brand.
Why is being a student so important to you?
I consider myself a student first because I am still learning (which) presents so many opportunities for me. I may make some mistakes, but I will continue to learn from them. As I get older, I know my knowledge will expand to the point where I can achieve anything I set my mind out to do.
Describe the absolute coolest part of your workday.
The coolest part of (my work with) The Honey Bunch Kids is seeing how I am able to inspire children when I speak to them. I love to see their faces when they see the books for the first time. They can tell that these stories are different. When they hear that I am the author and illustrator of a book series, it gets them thinking that they can have an idea and try something, too... I've received great feedback from both boys and girls. It was very surprising for me to hear how boys especially liked the series. I wasn't sure they would even be interested in it because a girl is on the center of the cover! However, the boys have been some of my biggest fans.
One little girl even said to me, "I hope you never stop writing."
How did you become what you are today?
I've always loved to write. When I was younger, I thought that one day I would like to become a doctor or a lawyer. However, when I was in the 5th grade, I saw my older cousin drawing on the floor of our grandmother's house. Then I wanted to draw, too. So I sketched three characters, one girl and two boys, who are now three of the main characters in "The Honey Bunch Kids" series today.
Then, in the summer before I entered the 6th grade, my mom sent me to a writing camp at Middlesex County College, and it was there that I wrote the first book in "The Honey Bunch Kids" series. The name of the course was 'How to Publish Your Own Book'. That September, I received a hard copy of the book in the mail. My mom loved the story, and decided to self-publish it for me.
When the first book was published, I began getting interested in entrepreneurship, selling copies of my first book at local book signings, the first of which was at my church, First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens. The word started spreading, children loved the book, and their feedback encouraged me to continue the series.
What are some initial reactions when people find out what you do? What do they say? What are their expressions?
When people find out that I am a young author of a book series, most people are very excited for me, as people love to see young people doing positive things in their communities. Children say things like, "Are you going to keep writing books forever?" and one little girl even said to me, "I hope you never stop writing." They inspire me.
Any advice to someone considered in going into your line of work?
Always be creative, and always write about what you know. Being an author requires patience and the ability to keep an open mind. Be willing to accept criticism. When you write the first draft, you are not finished.
For those interested in becoming entrepreneurs, always think about a problem in society that has yet to be solved. Think about something that you think people could really benefit from.