Cassidy: Welcome, Shaylon! Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a brief explanation of your business, Book Mecca.
Shaylon: My name is Shaylon Scott, and I am the Founder of Book Mecca. Book Mecca is an online literary platform and bookstore that highlights Black authors and their stories.
Cassidy: To give our readers more insight into Book Mecca’s offerings, please give a rundown of your products and services.
Shaylon: It’s important to us that our stories, magic, and melanin glow is told by us and shared for generations. The best way to learn about a culture, even your own, is through reading a book. We seek to amplify the voices of Black authors through a personally curated online bookstore, virtual and in-person interviews as well as hosting and facilitating book themed events.
Cassidy: On that note, who or what inspired you to pursue entrepreneurship?
Shaylon: Entrepreneurship was always a retirement idea for me growing up. I always felt as if a steady paycheck was what my family needed and that my ideas were not strong enough to stand on their own. It wasn’t until I fully tested the feasibility of my business and idea through a women’s entrepreneurship course from WINGS of Dallas that I fully saw the possibility. They encouraged me to see my passion project as a purpose and not a hobby.
Cassidy: It sounds like the journey toward entrepreneurship was a gradual process. What would you say are the upsides to being an entrepreneur, and what are the downsides?
Shaylon: The best part about being an entrepreneur is seeing your dreams leave your mind and see others enjoy and embrace it. The worse part is the constant self doubt. You have to continually speak over yourself to encourage yourself when things are going great and when they aren’t.
Cassidy: I completely agree. Speaking affirmations over oneself can have a major impact on us and our success.
Along the way there have surely been milestones. Would you mind listing some of your greatest achievements or accomplishments you are proud of?
Shaylon: Some of my greatest achievements are interviewing six New York Times best selling authors in my first year, of which four of them are now slated for tv show/movie adaptations. Working with these authors early allowed me to establish my voice, theme, and the opportunity to connect with more nationally known authors.
Cassidy: That is an amazing achievement and one to be proud of. I’m sure it’s going to be awesome continuing to observe their evolution as I’m sure they will feel the same way about yours.
Getting to such a point is no small order, of course. For entrepreneurs who are working towards their own crowning achievements, what advice would you give them if they’re struggling to maintain a work/life balance?
Shaylon: I would advise any entrepreneurs to fully use their calendars and not try to remember everything themselves. As you grow, your calendars will fill up with all sorts of opportunities. You will need to prioritize and fully engage in opportunities that align with your mission and your true availability not your desire to do it all. You are still human, so it’s ok to say no or even better, not yet.
Cassidy: I concur. Giving oneself grace is integral to the delicate balance of entrepreneurship. Even the most organized and efficient people have to know their limits and practice self-care.
What marketing techniques have you used to sell your services and products? Which ones have been most successful?
Shaylon: I have focused primarily on social media and book club/author groups to share about our services and resources. Instagram has been especially fruitful in developing strong relationships with authors, famous and new. Facebook has been a great resource to engage and educate the community searching for resources and a place for their work.
Cassidy: I see, a combination of virtual and in-person methods. As you market your services, are you working on any projects concurrently?
Shaylon: The Pass the Voice Initiative is an effort to bring Black literature into the hands of future readers wherever they are. With the establishment of free, little libraries in high-traffic businesses where African Americans frequent and where literature will be valued, it is a way for us to always have access to great literature and not feel overwhelmed by the variety of content available in larger libraries. We are bringing our stories closer to home. Our initiative starts in North Texas because there are so many African-American families who have moved to the area and seek to have their voices heard and stories told as well. This initiative also provides a way for families to share literature and give back on a consistent basis and become more cognizant of the authors and stories they are reading and providing to their children. The funding will be used for the following: (Starting in North Texas (4-5) and as we grow we will move to more locations)
*Creation/Building of the little libraries
*Purchase of YA books/Children Books/Adult Books (book drives will also take place for continued inventory)
*Marketing/maintenance supplies/scouting locations/expansion goals to more counties (Initiative Link: gf.me/u/yvkdpb)
Cassidy: Fantastic strategic planning! With all of these projects and initiatives in progress, where do you see your business in 3 years?
Shaylon: In three years, I see Book Mecca as a well-known independent bookstore and resource for Black authors, famous and independent. It would serve as a go-to place for Black lit for readers and authors.
Cassidy: Your vision is truly needed and truly inspiring. Thank you! Please share your social media and business contact information, so our readers can pass along your resources as well as support you and your initiatives.
Shaylon: No problem and thank you! I’ve listed my most frequently used social media and website information. Please contact me through these channels if you are interested in any resources or services Book Mecca provides or if you have any questions. Thanks again!