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Conversations with Kristin Mosley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Mosley.

Kristin, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
First, thank you for the chance to share a piece of my journey. I truly appreciate what VoyageSTL is doing by shedding light on STL’s hidden gems. Now on to the good stuff; as a little girl, I’ve always been drawn to literature in any form, whether it be books, magazines, or even the cartoon strips in the newspaper. I’m an only child, so I had tons of alone playtime cultivating a creative and vivid imagination. I remember not having a lot of clothes to play “dress-up” in, so I would become creative and step into the neck part of a t-shirt making it my skirt, grab my mom’s heels and throw a scarf on my head (pretending I had long flowy hair). I would imagine I was the fanciest girl alive and would place one of my Cabbage-Patch dolls on my hip while prancing around the house; I’m cracking up at this memory right now. I share this because it is the beginning of an imagination that would lead me to where I am today.

One of my core memories relating to literature is when I visited my grandmother’s house in Mississippi; she had what seemed like an endless supply of magazines, specifically Ebony and Jet. I would take any Jet magazine I could find and turn to the Beauty of the Week page. I would line them all up and specifically look for women of my complexion, darker-skinned women. I would think, “wow, I see someone that looks like me and is beautiful!” Who would have thought this would be the crux of why I became a children’s book author? And as I sit here reminiscing over something that may seem silly to someone else, it was important to me. This memory demonstrates how crucial it is for kids of color to see themselves in literature at an early age.  This memory is where the spark began and where my passion developed to create stories for black girls as the main character in a book. Representation matters, folks!

Fast-forward to 2008, and I’m sitting in an undergrad Creative Writing class taught by the late great Shirley Leflore (one of St. Louis’ most influential performance arts poets). In this class, I would pen my first children’s story. A character loosely based on me. After reading my story, she said, “you’ve got something here.” I smiled while internally doubting her assessment of my writing, and I sat on that “something” for about 10 years. In 2019 I would meet a little girl that would change my life! Her name is Olivia Swearengen, and she reawakened the little Kristin in me. I was drawn to her, and she to me, not knowing why. You know how you think you’ve entered someone’s life to help them, well to my surprise she entered my life for me! Olivia is full of life and has such a beautiful heart despite the tragedy she endured at such a young age.

Olivia and I had a day of hanging out, and during our playtime, she said, “let’s fight the lava monster.” So, we did just that with our imaginations, and then it clicked. I would then go home and immediately begin crafting a story. Olivia was my inspiration, and my first book, “Queen Olivia and the Lava Monster,” was birthed. This story is about facing your fears. It’s about having the courage to stand face to face with the very thing that threatens your happiness and not allow whatever the “it” may be to steal your joy. This story makes the main character, a little chocolate girl with braids that looks like me and like Olivia, the hero. Queen Olivia gives any black girl the exposure to being the star/ the hero in their imagination. I knew I did my job well when Olivia herself looked at the image of Queen Olivia and said, “hey, that’s me!” Job done!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Not a smooth road at all. Aside from the typical (i.e., lack of funding, etc.), the biggest hindrance on this journey has been self. Self-doubt is real and hinders so many from going after their dreams. Remember I mentioned it took me 10 years to do this. I’ve always known I wanted to write, but I questioned my writing ability and thought who would want to hear from me. I took this leap of faith at the start of a pandemic and had just lost my job too! I don’t know what would possess me to do that, but I did. Not to mention I self-published, meaning this all fell on ME! It wasn’t easy because I didn’t know where the money would come from, but I knew I needed to do this, and I couldn’t miss this window of opportunity. God’s timing is perfect, which doesn’t mean you (generally speaking) will always know what to do; sometimes, you just have to move and trust the pieces will fall into place. My favorite quote is, “she took a leap of faith and built her wings on the way down.” I essentially did just that, and I’m still building my wings. But wings aren’t being built alone; they are being built with the help of family and friends. My mom, I wouldn’t be half of the woman I am today without her sacrifice, support, and love; she is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. My cousin, who I deem as my sister too, Ellicia Lanier; her example as a successful businesswoman/entrepreneur, her wisdom and investment in me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To my mentor Mayor Tishaura Jones, thank you for saying yes and for your demonstration of leadership; you are such an inspiration. Lastly, Shaun Swearengen, thank you for what you’ve done and for allowing Olivia to be in my life!!! I have so many other investors in me that contribute to building my wings, and I thank you all publicly!!

I’ve said all this to say, if you have a dream, don’t wait until the perfect time. Go after it now because tomorrow isn’t promised. Don’t end up in the wilderness of regret. Don’t give up! Trying and failing is much better than doing nothing at all. When you think about it, what appears to be a failure, is just another step towards finding what works for you.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Currently, I work in the space of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. My present job is to ensure opportunity is given to underrepresented businesses (i.e., minority-owned and women-owned businesses); to make sure they have a seat at the table. I also lead the development of a DEI program that promotes a culture of individuality and expression to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

What I’m most proud of while in this space is empowering people to show up as their authentic selves. If we give individuals the freedom to be themselves (as much as possible) in the workplace, the organization will benefit beautifully by allowing the diversity of thought to flourish. When an individual finds an employer that makes them feel like they belong, productivity skyrockets; the morale improves. This means organizations need to assess their culture to ensure they have a conducive environment for folks to be themselves and safely use their voice. Another piece of DEI I’m passionate about is truth-telling. We cannot be afraid to talk about hard-hitting issues. We cannot shy away from some of the uncomfortable truths in the DEI space. When we come to work, we come with our truths, and like it or not; it does have an impact on an organization. But once we begin creating learning and educational opportunities to help us see outside our box, outside of what we unknowingly perceive (implicit bias), and unlearn our conscious biases too, we have then succeeded in finding our way back to seeing the humanity in each other.

I love what I do! I practice DEI not just at my 9-to-5 but also in my personal life. I do this by being a contributor to the diverse children’s book authors community; I’ve also done speaking engagements on the topic of the need for diverse children’s books as well as I do book readings at local St. Louis schools and have done one virtually for a Texas elementary school. I’ve also hosted community events to promote literacy—shoutout to West Community Credit Union and D.A.D.S of STL for their partnership.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Most who initially meet me assume I am reserved because of how I carry myself, but I’m quite adventurous. I don’t readily reveal that part of me, but once you get to know me, you’ll find that I’m usually open to trying just about anything once. To get a taste of how adventurous I am, I’ve been skydiving, which has allowed me to be in the center of a cloud; who can say they’ve been in a cloud? I’ve been snorkeling, zip-lining, skiing, parasailing, indoor rock climbing, ATV riding in the desert, I’ve tried a mud-run in Chicago, which was the most physically exhausting thing I’ve done to date, and the list goes on! I guess you could sense I have a thrill for adventure when I mentioned I decided to write a book with no job AND at the start of a pandemic, crazy right! I’m long overdue for my next adventure and plan to book something soon!

Oh, and how could I forget this? My family was on Family Feud in 2018. Our family name is Kelly. It was an amazing experience!! We are on season 20, episode 51 air date October 23, 2018. Check us out!

Pricing:

  • 16.99 (hard cover books)
  • 9.99 (soft cover books)

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Personal photo image taken by Aroused by Art

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