Stib Meets...Suzanne Hemming
Meet the Founder of Thea Chops Books….
This week, we’ve been chatting to the utterly brilliant Suzanne, author of Thea Chops Books. Motivated by frustration with deeply gender stereotyped reading options for her three year old daughter; which were consistently crammed with passive, pink princesses & emotionally repressed heroic princes, she set out to write and self-publish a rhyming book range herself. Now on book three, she’s also got empowering books for boys in her sights; determined to challenge the messages we give to our children & to do her part in making these messages ones of unity, equality and possibility .
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Lots of different things! For a while it was a dentist as my Auntie was one. Then the usual teen plans for pop superstardom. I went to uni to do engineering which I thoroughly enjoyed, though quickly realised that it wasn’t what I wanted to do for a living and instead went into TV production.
What advice would you give to yourself as a child?
Don’t worry so much! And believe in yourself - you are very capable and you are enough. Don’t worry about what other people think so much.
What was the 'big idea' which inspired you to set up your business?
From the minute I knew I was pregnant I wondered what I would do when I went back to work. I was working in TV and film, and the hours are often crazy, and certainly I never saw anyone working flexibly or part time. Once my daughter was born, I became very aware of the many messages in society telling her how she should live and who she should be, purely based on being a girl. Around the time of her first Christmas, I wanted her to have some of the old fashioned stories and fairy tales that I had read when I was little. But reading them with the eyes of an adult I was horrified at the outdated messages! Passive princesses waiting around for the prince to save them. Strong prices who don't show their emotions. I decided to have a go at re-writing them and started with a version of Cinderella called Ella and the iPhone. She leaves her phone behind at a party and the cool guy who she dances with has to find the thumb that unlocks it. She turns down his proposal though and says they can be friends as she’s off to uni. I had a lot of fun doing it, and after posting it on my blog got some great feedback, and eventually I thought, I’ll have a go. I figured I would only ever regret not having tried, and now 2 books in and working on book 3 I don’t regret it at all. In fact I’m loving what I’m doing and feel like I’m making a difference in the world.
What do you say to yourself when you need a confidence boost?
“You’re doing this for Thea.”
Having my daughter has been such a wonderful motivator for stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing myself. I so want her to grow up in a world that treats her as a man’s equal, and values her for her what she has to offer, not just how she looks. If I can be a small part of that, writing my books and trying to raise awareness…. I do it for her, and she’s the reason I can keep going whenever confidence dips.
What's your favourite Stib Spark word and why?
Self Believer. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. And it’s hard to put yourself out there sometimes, raising your head above the parapet is scary! But having a go, trusting that you can do your best and learn from whatever happens, is a wonderful thing.