Bébé Voyage was co-founded by 2 moms who have spent countless hours pouring their energy into the business and the community. Between getting a startup off the ground and managing a family, we know what it feels like to be stretched! Along this journey we have met so many amazing mompreneurs. The “mompreneur” community truly feels like a sisterhood. We have been so grateful to the community, this series is about profiling our powerful “mompreneur” sisters out there, making a difference in your communities! This profile is about Atlas Book Club, a subscription box that enables children to travel the world and learn about cultures different than their own. The diverse children’s books within the box feature a new country each month and help to get children of all ages curious about the world!
Q: Congrats on launching Atlas Book Club! What inspired you to create this business?
A: Thanks!!! This has been such an incredible journey. I am an attorney and a mom of three kids ages 13, 11, and 9. Books and travel are my passion! As such, it is my mission to help children travel the world through the books that they read, especially now that travel is so limited. I started Atlas Book Club, a book subscription box company focused on globally diverse children’s books, in our home back in 2017. As a Nigerian-American, I wanted my kids to continue to develop their knowledge of their African heritage, and I wanted them to explore other world cultures.
Starting with a small group of kids from diverse backgrounds, I saw how this experience resonated with them because they could see themselves represented in the books that we read, and they could travel to different parts of the world. I also took books set in different African countries to the kids’ classes whenever I was a Guest Reader and I saw how these kids were yearning for stories and culture different from their own. Since launching as a business in November 2019, we have explored 20 countries including South Africa, Guatemala, the Philippines, Nigeria, Haiti, India, Chile and so many more.
Q: Where do you live and do you recommend your city as a family travel destination?
A: I live in Maryland, USA in a small town close to Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. We are fortunate to live in an area that has lots of nature and hiking trails while being only 15 minutes from the city of Annapolis, and about 45 minutes from Washington DC. I would absolutely recommend Annapolis as a family destination! The city is especially beautiful in the summer because it is a coastal city. There are lots of opportunities for sailing, amazing seafood, live music, and sightseeing. A family vacation with a few days in Annapolis paired with additional days museum-hopping in Washington DC is a perfect family vacation!
Q: What’s your insider tip for families coming to your hometown? What are your favorite family-friendly hidden gems?
Annapolis, MD – start your day with breakfast/brunch at the Iron Rooster (and do get the churro waffles with a scoop of ice cream), then head over for a fun Pirate Adventure. Get off the boat and walk around downtown exploring the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial and various boutique shops, after an obligatory stop at the Annapolis Ice Cream Company.
Our favorite family restaurant is Grumps Café in Annapolis! They have the best pancakes, amazing coffee and are very cognizant of food allergies. My boys have a nut allergy, so this is super important to us. I believe the owner has a nut allergy as well, so they take it very seriously! My favorite dish to get there is the Old Bay Benedict – it is a crab cake eggs benedict and it is to die for! Oh! They also have beignets!!! So good. Can you tell I’m a total foodie? 😊The atmosphere is quirky, and the staff is lovely.
If you can get a sitter, take a romantic sunset cruise with Schooner Woodwind Sailing Cruises. Perfect for date night.
Cambridge, MD – Take an hour-long drive from Annapolis across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Cambridge to explore the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.
Washington DC – I am sure you already know the usual suspects of museums! But here are a few of my favorites – International Spy Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (the other Air and Space Museum), the National Building Museum is a lot of fun in the summer, and, of course, you have to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Q: Is family travel part of your life?
A: Absolutely! We love to travel and are already going to miss out on some travel plans due to the pandemic. It is super important to us that our kids experience global cultures, that they see the diversity of the world, and recognize the richness and beauty in other cultures and experiences. In fact, it has become a tradition that for their tenth birthday, the individual celebrating their birthday would get to choose where they would like to go. We do this in lieu of a big birthday party.
My son chose the New England area because he loves marine life – we spent some time in Boston, then Cape Cod where we took a whale-watching cruise and spent some time at a research center. My daughter chose Paris last year for her tenth birthday and we even took croissant baking class together, and we are supposed to go to Costa Rica next year for the youngest but pandemic…
Q: What is the most memorable trip you took with your kids?
A: This is a hard one!!! I know they would say that our trip England/Paris trip last year was their most memorable, but I would say my trip to Belize last year with my oldest. He is 13 and growing up so fast! I loved the opportunity to travel with just him and connect on an individual level. I am looking forward to one-on-one trips with the other two.
Q: What’s your best advice for traveling parents?
A: As much as you are able, stay with the local community! It provides such a rich experience that cannot be replicated in a resort. Split your time between the two if you can.
Q: What is your favorite family travel product or service?
A: I love this backpack! I use it mostly for work travel. It is stylish, affordable, and holds a lot!
Q: What item do you always pack in your carry-on?
A: My carryon is usually my handbag or my backpack. I don’t like carrying a suitcase through the airport if I can avoid it. I always, always have a book! Hand sanitizer wipes, lip balm, mints, trail mix, headphones, journal or notepad, red lipstick, and an extra phone charger. Just the basics!
Q: How do you tackle the work/life balance (e.g., daycare, babysitting, schools, etc.)?
I outsource what I can! I use Instacart for groceries, I have a cleaning service come to my house once a month, and I hired a tutor for the kids to help manage their virtual learning. That being said, I don’t know if I ever achieve “balance”. I just do the best that I can and give myself grace for when things don’t go well. I heard this analogy the other day that best describes how I try to live my life – we all have balls in the air, some are glass, and some are plastic. We are inevitably going to drop some balls, and we do our best to make sure we don’t drop the glass ones. And if we do, we take a deep breath, grab a dustpan and clean it up.
Most importantly, naps. I take naps. Selfcare is so important in maintaining that balance. And by self-care, I don’t just mean wine and long baths, which are essential! But I mean listening to our bodies, rest when we are tired, eating the right foods that our bodies love, having a treat when we feel like it, doing that emotional work, proactively planning for situations that may cause us stress down the line, and taking lots of naps!
Q; What are the advantages of being a Mompreneur while raising children vs. working for an outside entity? Disadvantages?
A; The big advantage is that your children see you pursuing your passion! We model what a full, happy life looks like for our kids, and I think it is so powerful when they see examples of a strong work ethic and living your purpose.
The disadvantage is the amount of work! It never ends so it is important to build boundaries so that you are emotionally present for your family. This is something I struggle with, especially because I still have a full-time job.
Q: What’s your shameless plug?
A: Atlas Book Club is my purpose and my passion! It is a book subscription box company focused on globally diverse children’s books and it is perfect for these times when travel is so restricted. It was founded on the belief that the exposure of children to diverse cultures helps them cultivate global awareness, and an increasing sense of empathy, compassion, and celebration of all cultures. Studies have shown the importance of exposing children, starting at a young age, to cultural and global diversity.
Some benefits include – learning to work with others from different backgrounds, helps counter discriminatory stereotypes, increased knowledge of history and understanding of world cultures, and prepares students to be global citizens for an increasingly globally diverse workforce. In addition, when kids see themselves represented in the books that they read, it helps them develop a strong sense of self and identity.
Our mission is threefold – (1) to help children of all backgrounds see themselves in the books that they read; (2) to help children travel to different parts of the world and experience world cultures; and (3) to help shatter “the single story” and stereotypes.
Here is how our subscription works – every month, we explore a different continent. We send out a box containing an age-appropriate book set in a different country, a fun facts card, bookmark, postcard, a map poster for tracking countries explored, and a culturally relevant souvenir, all for the purpose of immersing the child in the culture of the country featured in an intentional manner. There are four age group options for varying reading levels, ranging from picture books to young adult novels.
We have monthly, 3 months prepay, or 6 month prepay for your convenience! We currently ship within the US and Canada, but we are adding international shipping starting in November. You can learn more about us and the globally diverse children’s books that we offer at www.atlasbookclub.com. We are also on Instagram @atlasbookclub and FB – Atlas Book Club.
You may also like these articles from Bébé Voyage: