Jasmin Herro isn’t known for doing one thing at time.
She’s an artist, story-teller, designer and collaborator, who also happens to have founded multiple businesses.
But she decided to add children’s book author to her CV when her daughter asked about their Torres Straight Islander heritage. It was the moment that Herro realised she knew very little about her own culture and needed to.
She’s just released her new book Teter Mek and the Stolen Crocodiles for primary aged children, in line with NAIDOC week this week. It mirrors her own journey of discovering her cultural identity, and fits with her passion to make children’s literature a better and a fairer reflection of our society, especially for young Australians.
She’s the latest to feature in our profile section The Link, in which we connect readers to the diverse ideas and work of women.
Who and what do you lead?
JHerro owns the brands Tjindgarmi (Jind-Gar-Mee) which is a range of office products, furniture and washroom supplies that carry my artwork on them and Teter Mek which is a range of arts and crafts products that relate to the series of storybooks, workbooks and teacher’s resources that help children find out about and connect with their local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community through stories, art and culture.
I am the artist, storyteller and designer and work in close collaboration with many specialists to create our products, and also with OfficeMax who champions the Teter Mek and Tjindgarmi ranges.
What are you working on right now that’s got you really excited?
I’ve just finished writing the second book of Teter Mek: ‘Teter Mek and the Stolen Crocodile Eggs’. I love getting the children thinking about culture and identity. They are so open and with no prejudices.
I created the Teter Mek character because my daughter used to ask me ‘How do I explain how I am Indigenous?’. Since, I’ve travelled the country and met and talked to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, many of them have told me things about my family and even shared artefacts, pictures and books.
Later this month we are about to launch the workbooks that go with the Chapter Book series.
I’m excited to hear what the children who read the first book think of both the new book and the workbook activities.
What one issue is making you really angry right now?
I’m angry about bullying. I was bullied as a child and remember always feeling fearful and afraid.
What would you go back and tell yourself ten years ago?
Trust yourself, be brave and surround yourself with amazing people who believe in your dream.
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve faced (or are still facing) in your career?
My son has high functioning autism (he attends a regular mainstream school and lives a fully integrated life in society) and I’ve managed my work life around him and his needs.
However, what it has taught me in business is that being organised and having structure and managing everyone’s expectations benefits the team and the company. Being prepared and thinking through logically what everyone needs to perform at their peak is a skill that I have developed to make it work for me and my family.
How have mentors or sponsors (or both) aided your career?
I have a business mentor who has helped me learn and grow not just in business but as a person. He’s a former lawyer and helps me think differently about my business and how to approach things.
In my relationship with OfficeMax many of the executives have helped me understand how large business works. When a new challenge or project comes up having the different experts available to ask a quick question or workshop the problem has been a huge part of the growth of my business. We operate in a safe, respectful environment and I have enjoyed helping them connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in a safe supportive environment. There is a great deal of sharing of knowledge and learning.
What’s your favourite piece of tech?
Apple watch and iPhone
What apps or tools do you use to help manage your day?
I can’t live without:
Evernote – store All files and share amongst team members
Asana – manage tasks personal, business and team
Salesforce – CRM
Flipboard – read news
Meitu (photo editor) – fix your selfies
Photoshop – high res photo editing (teach yourself watch Terry White adobe evangelist on YouTube)
TripAdvisor – make sure you find great places to meet for business meetings, lunches and dinners.
Bigstock – use this for stock photos for presentations and power points.
What book do you most recommend to other women when it comes to their career?
Simon Sinek ‘Start with Why’
Brian Tracy ‘Maximum Achievement’
And what are you reading/watching/listening to right now (for work or pleasure)?
The Naked Brand (Doco – I watch parts of this once every couple of weeks – normally when I’m travelling, you pick up things you didn’t see or hear the first time)
Guerrilla Marketing – Jay Conrad Levinson
Where can people find out more about your work? (social media etc?)
Got a woman to suggest who you’d like to next read about on Women’s Agenda?
Filipa Preston https://www.linkedin.com/in/filipapreston/