Small business chat – Ellie Levenson

18 Nov

mugs It’s not time for another Small Business Chat, is it, because it’s a Monday! But rules are made to be broken, and I wanted to be sure to mention this lovely new children’s book publisher before their really worthwhile Kickstarter project closes. We know from The Banjo One that Kickstarter is a way of crowdfunding projects, usually of an artistic / cultural / techy nature. Lots of people chip in a bit of money (in fact you pledge the sum and only pay if it gets fully funded) and you get a little something to say thank you. Even when the initial total has been reached, most projects have a few things on their wish-list and you can still join in.

I heard about Ellie Levenson’s project with her new publishing venture, Fisherton Press, through a Tweet from one of my clients. How could I resist helping to fund a book explaining democracy and voting to toddlers? Let’s find out how this all got started … 

What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

The business is called Fisherton Press. We’re a publishing company publishing books for children that adults also like reading. Fisherton was my grandmother’s maiden name and her family ran a printers in London’s East End – the name is no longer in my family so I wanted to bring it back and I liked the publishing link. I set the company up in September 2013 and we’re preparing to publish our first books in September 2014.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I’ve been a freelance journalist (alongside lecturing in journalism at Goldsmiths College, University of London) since 2005, and love being my own boss. But it’s getting harder to write the kind of articles I like doing while having young children, as I need to be able to pitch an article that morning and write it that day if commissioned, and that just doesn’t work if I want to plan our days in advance and enjoy time with my children. Then, during my second maternity leave, which has just come to an end, I had an epiphany, and Fisherton Press was born.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

I have always wanted to combine writing with education, which is what I do as a journalist lecturing in journalism. But I would like to work more with young children and also use my ideas to encourage and source other writers and illustrators. And having young children I read a lot of children’s books – the wonderful ones are a joy and the terrible ones make your heart sink when your child asks for them again and again. I want to add to the wonderful ones.

Had you run your own business before?

No, other than being a freelance journalist.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going?

I intend to continue teaching and doing some freelance here and there and try to run Fisherton Press alongside this. I have had a portfolio career for nearly ten years and know I thrive on variety,

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

It’s early days so I don’t know yet but I often think of something my friend Sarah once said – she said that just because someone hasn’t done something before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be the first.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self? / What do you wish you’d done differently? / What are you glad you did? / What’s your top business tip? / How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

You’ll have to ask me these next year! [Fair enough! – Liz]

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

Having launched our first few books and hopefully seeing orders for them roll in! And preparing a big launch for our Kickstarter crowdfunded project, Democracy for Toddlers.

We haven’t had an absolutely brand, shiny, new company for a while, have we? How exciting! Note to self to ask those questions in a year’s time. Anyone who’s read books to children – their own or others’ – or tried to choose some as gifts will know that the quality does vary hugely. I’ll certainly be looking out for these books as well as receiving my own copies of Democracy for Toddlers when it comes out! And we wish Eliie all the best with her new venture!

Fisherton Press can be found online at (the website is in progress) and Eliie has a personal blog as well. Fisherton Press can be contacted by email and they have a Facebook page, too, and Ellie herself can be found on Twitter. And here’s that Kickstarter page again for more information.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.


Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Business, Small Business Chat


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3 responses to “Small business chat – Ellie Levenson

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