ARTIST RACHEL FARABAUGH is living proof that women can do it all, even when the universe throws obstacles in their way. An artist, illustrator, and writer, Rachel helms a design studio in Los Angeles called Bohemi+Chic. She’s also a proud self-publisher of children’s books, creating her own publishing company called Sleepy Sunshine Publications. With a Kickstarter campaign promoting a U.S. book tour for her children’s books The Opposite Adventures of Loki and Poki and Huffy Puffy Cloud, along with a wedding planned for August, Rachel was living what seemed to be the best year of her life. When her business partner and fiance realized he wasn’t ready to embark on this tour with her and quietly stepped off both projects, Rachel’s whole life threatened to get thrown off track in a matter of days. This story isn’t a tragedy, though; this tenacious and incredibly-smart woman has already landed on her feet with impeccable grace, and plans to go through with the tour and donate 1000 copies of her children’s books to libraries, shelters, and classrooms in need across the country. Rachel sat down with LadyClever to share how she got into self-publishing and how she’s managing this difficult period of transition in her life.
How did you get involved in children’s books?
I’ve focused all of my energy into graphic design for over ten years, but I’ve always had this dream since I was very young to be a book illustrator. I knew that was my purpose in life: to illustrate books and to be an artist. I had attempted to create books with other people in the past, and it hadn’t really worked out until I met Max. Together, we created Huffy Puffy Cloud as soon as we started dating. We spent two years creating that book before deciding to self-publish. I realized that we could wait around for a publisher to say “Yes,” or I could just publish it myself. It took another year to sort those details out and get Sleepy Sunshine Publications launched, and it was well worth it. We created our second book, The Opposite Adventures of Loki and Poki immediately after, and it took less than one year from start to finish for that one.
How did you come up with the book tour idea?
Instagram! I started following these really incredible people that were traveling in their vans and RVs. Mostly, it was young, married couples. And with my upcoming wedding to Max, I thought that we could do it, too! That was the plan — at least, with the upcoming book tour. We were going to get married, and then spend the first year of our life together on the road getting to experience life and donating books to children along the way. Although the wedding plans have come to a stop, I am not letting that get in the way of the book tour.
How has the breakup affected your plans?
I was pretty heartbroken and devastated when the news broke. It happened on my birthday, and it was at the same time that we launched our Kickstarter together for the book tour. We were three months away from the wedding, and I never even thought this was a possibility. Unfortunately, this is the new reality I am facing and I have no other choice but to move forward on my own. The timing was extremely inconvenient, but we managed to move through it as quickly and gracefully as possible. We are both sad, but we still have so much mutual respect and admiration for each other.
I will always be grateful for the time Max and I spent together; especially because we created these two beautiful books during our relationship. This has always been more of my passion project than his, so I will continue this on my own without skipping a beat. He has encouraged me to keep going without him, and has even promised that one day he will write for me again. While our romantic relationship has come to an end, we are both optimistic that over time we will remain close friends. And Sleepy Sunshine will live on.
What are your plans next?
The plans remain the same except that I’ll be doing them on my own. I’m hoping to raise enough money to print 1000 copies of the books so I can donate them across the country. The money raised will help cover the basic cost of printing, and then I will be donating my time and money to drive cross country delivering the books in person. The Kickstarter launched strong and then came to a halt at the same time as my wedding plans. Now that I’ve moved through the hardest part, I have one week left to breathe some life back into this campaign and bring this dream to life.
The fastest way to recovery is by helping others in need. I’m grateful that I have this opportunity to be of service to others at the same time as I find myself and heal. I’ll be spending a lot of time exploring, meditating, illustrating, and connecting with the world over the next year. I am going to focus all of my energy into this tour and hope to make a real impact in each community I spend time in.
What are some perks and down-falls of self-publishing?
The advantage to self-publishing is that I get to retain full creative control. I can work as quickly or as slowly as I need to, and I’m under no outside pressure or other people’s expectations. That allows me to keep the creative process free and flexible which is the best way to experiment and create magic. I create books based on my dreams and imagination, and sometimes I change my mind mid-story and start over in a new direction that is calling for my attention. I like knowing that the story and artwork can come alive and evolve naturally as I’m creating it.
The most challenging part of self-publishing is distribution. I’ve spent years perfecting the book-making process, but trying to get the books out to the world provides a new set of challenges. The printing cost for small runs is quite expensive, and doesn’t allow me to compete with the major publishers printing hundreds of thousands of books at a time. Book stores are not able to sell my books because they require a 50% cut, and I would lose money. My books cost $12 per book to print, and book stores are selling books at $15 per book. So conventional distribution methods are out. That’s why I decided to try something even better: donations and charity. I get to make books because I love the process, and children and families who can’t afford the books get them for free. Everyone wins! It’s really just the printing costs that are the biggest challenge up-front to overcome.
Perseverance. Never give up! It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you move, as long as you’re always moving in a direction. Don’t worry about mistakes, just learn from them and move on. Don’t ever compare yourself to others, because perception will always change depending on where you look. You may think it’s too late because someone else has thought of it, or someone is doing it better, but none of that matters. It only matters that you are doing it in your own unique and beautiful way. If it brings joy to you and improves the world, then you’re on the right track. You don’t need any validation beyond that. Never let fear, haters, or insecurities stop you. Venture off boldly into the unknown without hesitation. The unknown is a beautiful place because it exists full of unlimited possibilities.
Rachel’s Kickstarter campaign is live for a few more days; click here to support this wonderfully-strong and creative woman’s ventures!