Start with a simple ‘hello’ to the Earth and watch how it can inspire a world of change. For today’s episode, we dive headfirst into a world of environmental activism, children’s books, and the power of personal connections. Our special guest, Sandra Martinez Roe, takes us on a journey through her unique and inspiring venture, the “Hello Earth Club.” Sandra shares the magic of her mission as she introduces us to a group of young climate-curious kids who embark on a quest to understand and save the planet. Through captivating storytelling, Sandra and her team of talented illustrators bring these characters to life, creating an enchanting world that inspires young and old alike. But this episode isn’t just about the book; it’s about the powerful ripple effect Sandra is creating within her community. Remember, change starts with small actions. Tune in now and discover how “Hello Earth Club” is more than just a book; it’s a movement.
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Hello Earth Club With Sandra Martinez Roe
We have one of our authors as a guest, and she’s an author advocate as well. I’m excited to tell you more about that. As a reminder, go on over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, or Walmart. Anywhere where books are sold, grab the Author Success Handbook. You can also find it at AuthorSuccessHandbook.net. This is truly a tried-and-true way to build an author platform. We start with all the steps in order to be able to build this platform in a way that fits together, allows you to test and validate your audience, and moves on and builds all the moving parts you need for a successful book launch. Once again, www.AuthorSuccessHandbook.com or AuthorSuccessHandbook.net. Either one, you can grab.
Our guest is Sandra Martinez Roe. With a background in children’s fashion, Sandra Martinez Roe has been focused on the age group for over two decades and is thrilled to blend her career experience with her personal passion for the environment. As a mother, she knows how important it is to teach children about how connected we are to nature and each other, and that planting the seed from a young age will allow them to practice mindful and kind acts from the start that will not only benefit the community but society as a whole. Sandra started writing children’s books during the wave of the pandemic when she realized the times were changing but the people were not.
As a mother and advocate of the Earth and its health, she has been participating in River Park neighborhood cleanups since her son was three. Once her son was of school age, she quickly realized that there was there were limited resources for families to engage in discussions and participation about the environmental challenges our generation is currently facing, and hopes this will help.
Sandra’s intention for this book is to make climate change a manageable topic for adults to explain, and to empower children to deeply care for the environment. This book is the first in a series about a group of kids learning how to participate in what may seem like small changes but are incredibly impactful if they get more folks to participate. Sandra’s book is called Hello Earth Club. You’re going to be intrigued by the way she will be promoting it because it’s a little bit different than what we’re used to. She has access to resources that most of us don’t, but it is interesting to watch or listen to how she built relationships that will help her sell this book as well. Stay tuned.
Sandra, welcome to the show. I’m excited to have you.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
I’m intrigued by what you’re doing because it is so out of what I would consider your zone of genius being in children’s clothes. Tell us how you get in. You’ve been doing this for twenty years. How did you get into children’s clothing? What do you do with it?
I got into children’s clothing in 1999. It’s been a minute and it was a serendipitous meeting of people that got me into it. It’s been incredible. It’s a big learning curve. I was able to eventually partner with my first boss who owned wholesale children’s showroom. When I took over, I eventually got a business partner and we expanded to New York, Dallas, and Atlanta. We already had the California location. It’s been growing ever since then. I wholesale children’s footwear, apparel, and accessories to stores. I sell anyone from somebody on Main Street to your local Nordstrom.
That brings me to the unusual distribution channels that you have that most people don’t. You transitioned from there and you have a son. As part of that, I read in your bio that you have been taking him to environmental cleanups and making him very aware of what’s going on with the environment. Tell us a little bit about that because three is so young to be taking them on cleanups.
I look back at the pictures and the concept resonated with him and still does. We were at the skate park. He was having his skateboarding lesson. I came with my trash picker in my bag and I was cleaning the park while he was skateboarding. I overheard him say to his friend who he shares the class with. He said, “Do you want to join Earth Club?” I looked and the little kid looked at him and said, “Sure. What is it?” He said, “We basically pick up trash and do good things for the Earth.” I thought, “It’s working.” The little kid immediately was like, “Yes, I want to help,” and he went for the trash picker.
They’re arguing over who’s going to hold the bag and who’s going to pick up the trash. It was incredible. He’s used to it. Whenever we see trash we need to pick up or a conversation that we have, it resonates with him. We call our trash bin the landfill or the recycle bin, so we can imagine where it’s going. He’s very conscious of what waste he’s creating, not in a bad way either. It’s not daunting. It’s a fact of life, which is nice. I wish more people could do it.
It sounds like you’ve made it a habit with him. I remember my parents. We lived in California growing up. People would throw trash out. You’d be on the freeway and somebody would throw the McDonald’s bag out the window.
We still see it. We’ve seen it before. We can’t believe it. It’s a lot less than in previous years, but we see it. It’s always fast food, Starbucks cups, or McDonald’s bags. It’s pretty sad. He sometimes gets mad, “Don’t people know? Why are they doing this?” I said, “It’s because no one taught that. That’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to teach people that’s not okay because this planet belongs to all of us and we should all contribute to a nice planet. Who doesn’t like to walk through a clean street?”This planet belongs to all of us. We should all contribute to saving it. Click To Tweet
My parents were camper. I hate camping, by the way. I hate fishing, but my parents were big campers and they were always like, “What we bring, we take home. You don’t get to leave anything behind.” We were trained. If you do that when kids are younger, then it becomes a habit. I like throwing gum out the window. I probably shouldn’t share that. I was a gum-thrower during the pandemic when everybody was throwing masks on the ground everywhere. You decided to write a book about this. Tell us a little bit about the book, why you wrote it, and how you came into all this because it’s so cute. I don’t know that I’d be creative enough to write a children’s book.
It was a serendipitous calling for me because there was a point prior to the pandemic that I had been thinking about this concept, a book about cleaning up the Earth something. I started soul searching. Why am I here? Why am I doing this? What is my purpose? A friend of mine, Mark, is not even a reader. He randomly gifted my husband and me a couple of books. One of the books was about the environment.
I cracked up because he didn’t even realize what it was about. I devoured the book. I couldn’t believe it. I was reading and learning. I got into it. I started researching like, “What is going on with the planet? What is going on with the environment?” I started channeling my purpose, “Why am I here? What am I doing?” I thought, “I’m in kids. I have access to kids’ retailers. I had my child and I was doing this already.” I happened to have two great ladies who worked for us on the East Coast. One who happened to be an illustrator.
During the pandemic, we had a pump the brakes on our sales agency. When I let them know, “We need to make some changes and cut some hours.” We didn’t know how long. We thought it was going to be a couple of weeks but we had no idea. I said to them after the meeting, “Let’s reconnect on the other line,” and we did. I said, “You’re no longer working for the sales agency but what if we write that book that we’ve been talking about?” They were all about it.
We started meeting on Zoom almost every week and reviewing what I wrote. We created it and it’s been so much fun. It’s a story about a group of kids that are climate-curious. They know something is going on but they can’t pinpoint it, and they finally do. Though they are a little concerned about what’s happening, they have a science teacher who basically shows them all the positives that are happening. That’s the biggest takeaway. There is so much good that is happening that we can all be part of. If everyone contributed a little to it from us to big businesses to corporations, we can make significant changes. That’s my goal. It’s to talk to the kids and trickle it up to the adults so that we can all join forces and take care of this planet.
How is it working with the illustrators? For a lot of people who do children’s books, that’s the hardest part. Did you have a vision of what the kids look like and the adventures or did the illustrators come to the table and say, “This is what we have. What do you think?”
They came to the table with the drawings and it was so impressive. I gave them the story and they came back with some concepts. We vibe well with these girls. We see eye to eye on a lot of things. It was a perfect match. It was like a little tweak here. We did have multiple tweaks as we went because this was a new project for both of us.
That was what kept me going. It was like, “We’re a match. We understand. We’re aligned. I love their style. It vibes with what’s going on with me.” It’s funny because one of the characters, Sunny Sunshine, is named after my son. The way that they drew it, I sent them a picture of Sonny now as he’s seven, and he’s literally turning into that character, which is so wild to me. I’m like, “He looks like him now.”
That’s so funny. Is he on social media? Can you put his little avatar up in the picture?
I should. I will. That’ll be part of the postings for sure.
That’s a very cute idea. As we get closer to publishing, you have a very unique distribution line. The reason I want to talk about this a little bit is with the cost of paper and distribution constantly going up, all of the retailers take 55% of your retail price. I want to talk about this because anything you can do that you can sell the books yourself is going to keep that 55% in your pocket.
For someone like Sandra, who doesn’t have an expert business where she’s selling products and services, this is a great way to get ROI from the book. Let’s talk about that a little bit because I mentioned to you that Christie Stancil wrote the book about the USC band leader. She literally sold thousands of books out of tailgate parties at USC. You have something you have something a little bit similar because you guys do so many cleanups and you’re out building relationships while you’re doing this.
Sales is what I know but this is a slightly different channel. One of the things that I want to do is to sell them at environmental cleanups. I’m part of our neighborhood council. We host a few events. I’m also part of my son’s school. I’m encouraging them to host more events like that. We did a cleanup last year and I didn’t know what the turnout was going to be.
The turnout was incredible. There were so many kids. Girl Scouts showed up. We were cleaning the main street of our neighborhood. The reception from the neighbors to the kids was awesome. When people go by and say thank you and appreciate what the kids are doing. It motivates the kids to continue doing it. It also teaches them to not throw it on the street because they’re going to end up being the ones who clean it up.
That’s part of the strategy as well, being involved with the neighborhood or with our moms’ groups. I’m very active on social with a few moms’ groups. They’re very supportive. Women’s groups as well, but I feel like this topic speaks to most parents. I feel like it is a daunting subject. My goal is to make light of it and make it an inclusive action versus, “What’s happening here?”
I want to point out that Sandra has got a great setup here because being out there and people getting to know her selling these books on a one-to-one basis if she chose at some point to have some actual club because the book is called Hello Earth Club, she could do an online educational that costs $4.99 a month for a child or something like that. By having those personal contacts there, she’s building relationships, which is going to be a much easier yes for someone to say because they’re like, “I met Sandra at this cleanup and she lives what she’s talking about in the book.” It does set you up to do something amazing with this if that’s your long-term goal with it.
I feel like you need to be authentic when you’re reaching out. Our showroom and our sales agency are known for being genuine. We’re very honest. We don’t lie. If we don’t like something, we’ll let you know. “We don’t think it’s going to sell. I don’t think you should buy it. This is better. This may perform better for you.” There’s a reason that we’ve been around for twenty years. We do have a very tight connection with our customers.
We do care that they survive. We’d give them as many tools as we can via social media assets. Anything that we can do to help them facilitate their work because owning a small business is a hard thing to do. The better your partner, the better it is. The better your experience, the better your chances of success. I’m taking that and applying it to this book as well.
We have this thing in my new book that I called ARC, which is Awareness, Relationship, Close. You’re following that pattern. When you’re meeting people, now they’re aware you’re there. You’re building that relationship and at some point, you will be able to close them on the book. In addition to our regular distribution channels, you have them in some of these major retailers too. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Dating back for a long time, we’ve been selling these retailers brands that have worked, thankfully. When we pitch something, we pitch it if we believe in it and we know that it’s going to sell. We suss out all brands before taking them on. We make sure that they go through a certain checklist, especially when it comes to majors because that’s a little bit different, the profit margin, the delivery days, and the product itself. With that, anybody from someone on Main Street to one of these major retailers, we make sure that we have the right tools and the right recipe to make sure that it sells.
It’s funny because as I was writing this book, I did tell a couple of my buyers. One of them texts me every few months and is like, “How is the book going? What’s going on? Are we going to buy it?” It’s so flattering. I feel so blessed. That’s why I want to make it good because I appreciate that opportunity. It’s based on trust and history. They knew that I wouldn’t pitch them something that I didn’t believe in.
Any long-term? Are we going to see Sunny Sunshine dolls?
We have a list of things that we want to launch, a line of plush. We want to do a line of t-shirts that’s called Hello Earth Club Explorers. It’s going to be tied into the particular environments that the consumer will find them in, whether it’s a beach or a lake, and how the importance relates to that. One of the things that we have to be cognizant of is because it’s Hello Earth Club, we have to make sure that we’re putting our money where our mouth is. It has to be sustainable. It has to be ethically produced. There are a lot of variables involved as we’re researching this.
My daughter is a manager at Whole Foods and I’m always surprised when I say, “Why didn’t you have this?” She says, “Do you know what’s in that?” I have no idea, so they do much the same thing with the way it’s sourced because I’ve asked her a couple of times and she educated me.
That’s our job. If this is what we believe in, then we have to make sure we check off the list. There’s a lot of resistance almost to climate curiosity. There are a lot of people who are like, “This, that, and the other.” Everybody thinks they have the answer and there are different answers and solutions. None of them are perfect. Sadly, there is no secret recipe. We’re all just doing the best we can to communicate about it and align on it. Everything changes every day. This is like the craziest summer that we’ve ever experienced. It’s all changing and I’m excited to be part of it.
Crazy in what way?
The flyers and the floods. There’s a lot more awareness of what’s happening like overfishing the ocean. There’s a lot of crazy things happening now. It’s imperative that we start taking action.There are a lot of crazy things happening on our planet right now, and it's imperative that we start taking action. Click To Tweet
Hello Earth Club, we are still deciding on a release date. Probably, it’s going to be September or October. You can reach out to Sandra and find out more. Sandra, where can we get ahold of you if we want to maybe buy some books from you for our own clubs?
If you have something organizationally coming up or a cleanup coming up soon, reach out. There’s no reason why you can’t take orders in advance and support this organization so we can get more kids involved in it. I’m sure Sandra would be happy to ship you some books if you want to purchase them for your own groups.
We’d love it.
Thank you so much. Go over and check it out.
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- Hello Earth Club
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About Sandra Martinez Roe
With a background in children’s fashion, Sandra Martinez Roe has been focused on this age group for over two decades and is thrilled to blend her career experience with her personal passion for the environment. As a mother, she knows how important it is to teach children about how connected we are to nature and each other and that planting the seed from a young age will allow them to practice mindful and kind acts from the start that will not only benefit their community but society as a whole.
Sandra started writing children’s books in the wave of a pandemic when she realized the times were a changing, but the people were not. As a mother and advocate of the earth and it’s health, she has been participating in river, park and neighborhood clean up’s since her son was 3. Once her son was of school age she quickly realized that there were limited resources for families to engage in discussions and participation about the environmental challenges our generation is currently facing and hopes this will help.Sandra’s intention for this book is to make climate change a manageable topic for adults to explain and to empower children to deeply care for the environment. This book is the first in a series about a group of kids learning how to participate in what may seem like small changes but are incredibly impactful if they get more folks to participate.
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