Geni Kuckhahn is a copywriter, creative writer, freelancer, book reviewer and mum of two who wants to share her passion by teaching aspiring young writers how to use their skills. Pen and Fable is a culmination of her love of literacy and respect for young readers and writers: a way for her to share books and stories, nurture writing skills and create space for children and young adults to express themselves. She wants creative young minds to be free to embrace their passions and not be discouraged from choosing a creative career. Pen and Fable subscription boxes provide young readers and writers with newly published novels and a collection of bookish goodies, along with writing tips and challenges. Here, Geni talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her wonderful business.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I was an aspiring writer as soon as I could hold a pen. I always knew I wanted to write but could find very few resources to tell me how to actually make a living from it. I worked hard and had some great mentors to help me find my way, and today I make a living as a copywriter.
I live by my pen.
I wanted to create a resource for young writers to teach them skills, encourage mindful reading and give them somewhere to ask questions about writing. I want to teach aspiring young writers how to use their skills to make a living.
Young people are often discouraged from pursuing creative careers for ‘writing’, ‘drawing’ and ‘acting’ are often seen as non-viable ways to earn money. I don’t believe that is true – I am proof of that! As a writer, of course, I want to write books. I’m still working on that, and that’s OK. In the meantime, I still write every day, and I earn a living that way. It is possible to make a living as a writer.
I am also a book reviewer for the Children’s Book Council of Australia. When I started writing reviews, it occurred to me that children are rarely asked their opinions on professional platforms about the books they are reading. It seems mad, to me, that the target audience of these books don’t get the chance to tell us what they think. I encourage all children, subscribers or not, to write book reviews to be published on the website. I hope to make Pen and Fable the go-to review site for children’s books – by young readers, for young readers.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Once I decided to start, I just jumped in. I knew very little about how subscription boxes work, but I come from a marketing and social media background so the technology involved was familiar.
I knew that hundreds of book subscription boxes were out there, but nothing with such a focus on the cultivation of young writers. This is something new and unique, and therefore unchartered waters. The beauty of that is that I get to make up the rules.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
When I first started, the boxes were simply ‘book boxes for children’. But it quickly changed to an amalgamation of all my passions – writing, reading and encouraging children’s voices.
I think my most significant breakthrough came from realising that I am my own target market. When struggling to find contents for the box or choosing the writing lesson of the month, I just ask myself what I would like. I am building something for a very niche but very passionate demographic.