Today we’d like to introduce you to Bibi LeBlanc.
Hi Bibi, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My story starts in West-Berlin, Germany, though I now have lived more than half my life in Central Florida… I grew up in West-Berlin, Germany, at a time when The Wall surrounding my hometown was a very present reality. Leaving the city on any day just to go to the countryside was not possible. If you are interested, here is a short video about life in Cold War Berlin and my experience of the fall of The Wall: https://youtu.be/9C_olfuTNt0 After graduating from high school, I immediately moved to another part of West-Germany, where I worked for a British company and received two years of business administration education. I very much enjoyed this time of training in the different departments, learning new skills and meeting new people. I used to be very shy, but I was curious about the world and interested in people even then. My strong desire to see more of the world kept tugging at me, though and led me to become an “au-pair” in California for eight months. I learned most of my English during this time, went to my first personal growth seminar, and made my first skydive. It was an instrumental time in my life in many ways!
Upon returning to Germany and acting on my love of travel and photography, I became a flight attendant with Lufthansa, a German airline. I also learned to skydive. I spent four incredible years traveling the world. I made new friends, skydived all over Europe, the US, Hong-Kong, Australia, South-Africa, and took pictures of my adventures. During this time, I met my husband-to-be. After we long-distance dated for over a year, we married, and I moved from Germany to Florida – my childhood dream of living in a place with palm trees and close to the ocean had come true. We worked together in the skydiving industry and traveled to many skydiving events all across the globe. When we had our three sons, we decided early to homeschool them. Traveling became part of their education, and we go on travel adventures together to this day. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I had my first business idea when traveling to Israel at the age of 17. Since then, I have owned and run several businesses. A skydiving equipment business and a travel business are just a couple of examples.
Today, I have an active real estate investing business, Palomar Peak Properties, and an indie publishing company, Culture to Color. Culture to Color gives me the opportunity to turn my love for travel, photography, and people and their stories into something I can share with my readers and coloring artists around the globe. What started as a fun project, creating a coloring book about DeLand, my hometown for 30 years, turned into a business. Here at Culture to Color, we create coloring books commissioned by companies and organizations worldwide. Coloring books are a unique marketing tool! For example, in a coloring book about a business, Culture to Color can present the story, people, and products, literally drawing a picture of the company and its history and culture. Each coloring page is accompanied by a text that tells the story behind the image, allowing the reader to learn while relaxing with coloring.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road; I have definitely had some challenges along the way. One of my biggest personal challenges is that I have so many ideas, I sometimes don’t know where to start, what to focus on, what to pursue. I’ve learned, though, to be able to pull myself back and look at what’s in front of me and decide what the priorities are. I’ve also learned to listen to my inner voice and trust it. Whenever I’ve started something, I have followed my interests and my vision of what I want my life to be. I want to live with intention and purpose with every choice I make. With Culture to Color, I didn’t even set out to get into business. I just wanted to create a coloring book for the fun of it. I had so much fun that I decided to do a second book… After some challenges with my publisher, I started exploring the idea of setting up my own publishing business. I spoke with my accountant and my business coach, decided doing so made sense, and voilà, I was in the publishing industry! Then, of course, the question became: how to turn this venture from a hobby into a profitable business. Because publishing was a completely new arena for me, my prior business experience made a big difference.
Over the years, I have learned some important lessons: • Remain curious about the world. Have an open mind and continue learning. I love going to seminars. Yes, they can be expensive, but if I can implement even one new idea, I will save money in the long run. • Networking is important. I have found some of the best opportunities result from a conversation or a connection I made. • Ask better questions. For example, instead of asking, “How can I do x?” I ask, “Who can help me do x?” Many people have gone before me and are happy to share their knowledge. I can shortcut a process by getting support from someone more experienced. And having a good network of people helps in a big way! • I benefit significantly from working with a business coach! • Surround yourself with people who have various areas of expertise to brainstorm. Everyone has knowledge and insights to share. Getting an outside perspective can help you move forward exponentially faster. • Build a great team – Let go of the idea that you have to do it all yourself. That’s the surest way to become overwhelmed and burn out. Build efficient systems and delegate! Work on your business, not in your business! Having this knowledge made getting into a new industry much easier. Based on these lessons, I learned quickly that going from store to store to sell my books is a hard way to make money and create a profitable business. I have since changed my focus to marketing and selling custom coloring books to organizations.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
At Culture to Color, we create custom coloring books for organizations such as tourism boards, companies, and universities. For example, I am currently working on a commissioned coloring book about San Francisco’s Chinatown. What sets us apart from other coloring books: • Custom Designed • Educational o each book has an introduction that shares the story, o each coloring image has a short description letting the coloring artist learn about the destination or organization in fun and relaxing activity • Bilingual (optional) o serving a more extensive client base o language study tool. With these features, our coloring books make a unique marketing tool for your organization! We are proud that our book Berlin Divided – Berlin United won the 2020 President’s Book Award, a national award given by the Florida Authors & Publishers Association. It was also a Finalist in the International Eric Hoffer Award competition. Berlin Divided – Berlin United has been an Amazon Bestseller since October 2020. Explore Food & Wine of Tuscany has also reached Amazon Bestseller status.
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
When COVID started, many people put their lives on hold and are still waiting for “things to go back to normal.” I decided not to do that. Since I have a home office and work with a team of people worldwide, things didn’t change as much for Culture to Color as they did for other businesses. Meetings and seminars moved online, which freed up my time significantly. I decided to make the best of this unusual situation and focus on my business. And I am happy to report it has been my most focused and productive year ever! What have I learned? Change is part of life and happens at all times.
As a business owner, I have to be able to embrace change in order to succeed. Perspective is important. If I am in a challenging situation, I consider solutions from multiple perspectives. For example, I didn’t put my business on hold. Instead, I looked for new opportunities and needs during this unusual time. Culture to Color created and distributed hundreds of free coloring kits to isolated hospital patients and retirement home residents. The idea for Culture to Color’s first children’s book was conceived during the pandemic. Currently, we are putting the finishing touches on Endangered Animals of North America, a bilingual educational coloring book that will be released in May of this year. Lastly, I have learned not to take anything for granted and appreciate what I have!
- Food & Wine of Tuscany $14.95
- Berlin Divided – Berlin United $14.95
- Explore the Sights of Deland, FLorida $12.95
- Explore the Sights of New Smyrna, Florida $ 12.95
- Explore the Sights of Mount Dora, Florida $14.95
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://culturetocolor.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/culture_to_color/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CultureToColor
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/CultureColor
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxQS0bHq6KO8TA8JvYkulKQ
- Other: https://youtu.be/9C_olfuTNt0
Bibi LeBlanc Photography