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Personal Pain Leads To Success For Danbury Entrepreneur

Danbury resident Jill Barletti, founder of Snowflake Stories. Photo Credit: Submitted
A Snowflake Stories book. Photo Credit: Submitted

DANBURY, Conn. -- Jill Barletti had no idea what she'd be up against when she had the idea of producing personalized books for kids. All she knew is that when she told a made-up bedtime story to her niece and nephew using their first names, their eyes lit up.

In her gut, the Danbury resident knew she had a great idea.

That was in 2012. After researching the market, the mom of two forged on, thinking there would be room for one more personalized book company, especially if she made the books bilingual.

For years she remembers being disappointed that she couldn't share some of her favorite children's books with her own kids. "All I knew was that in solving my own pain, I could solve the pain of so many others," she said.

"I really struggled to find bilingual books for my half Latino children when they were younger. 

"Bilingual books for kids still aren’t available in abundance.”

And because it dawned on her that if finding bilingual books in English and Spanish is difficult, it must be even more so to find books in other languages, she decided to have her personalized books translated into Portuguese, French, and Italian.

Snowflake Stories, LLC was founded in June of 2013, and became the first personalized book company to offer highly customizable, bilingual books, which feature one special child and (up to five) loved ones. Because customers select and customize each character in their personalized copy, the storybooks can feature single-parent, blended, LGBT, and biracial families.

According to Barletti, the award-winning books, which rhyme in each of the five languages, are perfect for bilingual families as we all as children studying a foreign language.

They also tend to do well with grandparents who want to instill pride in their heritage by introducing their grandchildren to their family’s language.

The "feel good” storylines have the child interact with each of the cast members, who give advice to help the child to overcome certain fears and challenges.

Barletti considers herself the David to the Goliaths as, over the years, the personalized book industry has changed. In mid-2014, the industry leader was purchased by a major publisher and put in charge of this larger company’s personalized book imprint.

In mid-2015 and again in 2016, a British startup raised venture capital funds, totaling $13 million, to produce personalized children's books. Barletti, on the other hand, is a single mom and self-funded solopreneur who hires contractors as needed.

She said she's proud of all she's accomplished -- despite being a small operation that relies on a handful of trusted contractors, as opposed to hiring tens of employees. Up next: An e-book which she plans to debut before the end of the year.

For her, the work is personal. In solving the disappointment of not finding books that could appeal to her kids, she believes she's filled a niche. 

Said Barletti, "We can make a book for virtually any child."

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