Boss Mom Spotlight – Lawanna Naomi Staves
We want you to meet Lawanna Naomi Staves
Lawanna is a wife, mother of three, a children’s book author, illustrator, and screenwriter living in Dinwiddie, Virginia.
Why we love Lawanna
We found Lawanna’s children’s book Tammy the Tempered Bull and fell in love. Lawanna writes about topics that so many parents don’t know how to navigate and her books are so incredibly needed. Tammy gets frustrated at the fair because she wants to be first in line and win all the time and get frustrated fast. The story speaks to so many parents’ everyday lives. Her new book Clunker the Clumsy Caribou is all about a Caribou that is so excited he makes it hard for his friends to enjoy their adventure. These topics hit home and allow parents to show their children how to navigate their emotions in constructive ways. We are so incredibly happy that Lawanna has written these books, and hopefully, many more to come, and we want to celebrate her for her creativity, her bravery to write (it’s scary to publish a book and put yourself out there), and for positively changing children’s lives.
Lawanna shares her Boss Mom Journey:
I was born to the late Juanita Patricia Woodside and the late Herman Walter Victor in 1981 when drug abuse was at its all-time high. In 1988, my mother died from heart failure that was complicated by her drug addiction. Unfortunately, my father was also unable to escape his plights over his lifetime and passed away in 2011. My grandparents Everett and Naomi Woodside stepped in and raised me (7) and my sisters (10 and 7 ½ months) as their own. I grew up with a lot of emotional and social voids. Don’t get me wrong, I come from a very large, loving, and talented family filled with passionate singers, dancers, actors, and track stars, but being the introvert that I was, I never felt as if I fit in. I mean I can hold a note when I’m singing to myself, but you would never hear me singing a ballot at any of my family karaoke gatherings☺.
I tried opening up more by following in my older sister’s footsteps, joining the chorus with some of my friends in school (which didn’t last long), and running track. My sister was a hurdler and I was a high jumper. Even though we trained hard and won awards and scholarships, I still did not have enough passion for it to be considered as a possible profession. Track and field was something we did for fun and to keep us out of the streets. I lived in a very rough neighborhood where you never knew what was going to happen at any moment. You could walk outside to someone being shot at and dying before your eyes, or you having to defend yourself against bullies who wanted to fight and hurt you just because. These things were our normal, and got worse over the years. Permanent scars remind me of the time when a friend and I were both stabbed during a vicious attack. By the grace of God, we made it out of that situation alive.
This was a very difficult time for a young child who was already feeling lost. But with constant prayer for guidance, things began to change, diverting me from a path of vengeance. Even though my outside experiences were chaotic, I had love and peace within my home and at school, which helped. So I tried to focus more on that. My younger sister and I shared a love for movies, so watching the Lifetime channel became a staple for us growing up. We would critique every movie we watched, and I can remember saying “I could’ve written this better” or “I’m going to write my own movie”, jokingly☺. Also, I joined the volleyball team at school to keep active while forcing myself to become more social. I was a young girl continuing the search for her purpose.
I remember growing up having to dress for success and prepare questions for visitors for career day. A part of me would get excited because we were going to be meeting people from different professions. I had always hoped that I would meet that one person with whom I could connect with, and their inspiration would help guide me to my calling. But the only careers that teachers and the visiting professionals ever spoke about, or encouraged you to seek, were doctors, lawyers, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and educators. So naturally, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor. I felt that this would be the best fit for me because I loved babies and helping people. Plus, anything outside of those ‘regular’ jobs was discouraged, as if career choices solely based on talent (i.e. singing, dancing, athletics, writing, etc.) were only hobbies. “It’s like picking a needle from a haystack to make it in those careers”, some would say.
But something within me was ignited every time I was given a writing assignment in school, especially when it came to essays and short stories. From as early as elementary school, I always loved having a fresh notebook and pencils at my leisure, even though I did not know what to write in them. It wasn’t until I graduated from college and wrote my first script, that I understood that this was more than just writing a movie. This was me acknowledging, accepting, and realizing what I was called to do.
After marriage and starting a family, I began to take notice of their different personalities and traits, all of which inspired me to become an author of children’s books. My goal is to deliver unique adventures through my storytelling for all children to enjoy, that will aim to teach and encourage acts of kindness, understanding the value of love, family & friends, and self-acceptance; books that both children and parents can relate to.
One Piece of advice from Lawanna for mom’s who are starting a business…
The key is time management. As a wife and mother of three young children, time is of the essence. And as a writer, I keep a pen and a pad with me at all times because ideas randomly pop into my head.
When I first started writing and illustrating, my children expressed to me that they felt as if I wasn’t spending a lot of time with them because I was always in my office working. So I switched up my routine a little bit. Now, I try to work only a couple of hours a day when they are home from school, and mostly at night when they’re asleep. I also started asking them for their opinions about the stories and the illustrations. I noticed that it made them feel good knowing that their opinions mattered.
My work has planted a seed in them to become young authors. So my advice to anyone starting a business of any kind with young children is to make sure that your family comes first because you can’t get the time back that you’ve lost. Incorporate them into your work when you can. If they are interested, let them see the good, the bad, and the uncomfortable parts of creating your business, down to the finished product. This may light a fire in them to strive for the dreams that they want to achieve and significantly boosts their confidence. After all, they are my motivation and the reason that I do what I do, so it’s only right that they be a part of my journey. And lastly, NEVER GIVE UP! There will be times when you feel like you’ve done all that you could do, and it’s not working out. Find that inspiration from another source and keep striving, it will all work out. JUST KEEP THE FAITH.
Lawanna wants to live in a world where… Kindness is everyone’s common ground, which would open doors to new and healthy relationships and allow us to encourage and uplift one another.
And she wants you to know that… You are capable, you are worthy, you are blessed, and you are enough! You will never know what you are capable of until you step out on faith and strive for what you want to achieve.
She believes that “YOU” should be living your passion. Nothing in life is more fulfilling than doing the things that you love to do.
Lawanna is doing something wonderful and we want you to know about it…
She is currently working on her next book which aims to give others a glimpse of what it’s like for a child with sensory sensitivities or on the Autism spectrum. She’s also working on launching a series for the book Clunker the Clumsy Caribou that will discuss different scenarios children face on a daily bases while taking them on a fun, learning adventure. Lawanna is also working on several scripts to market and or direct herself in the near future.
Make sure you connect with Lawanna
Check out her website at www.lawannanstaves.com