Meet Gabriella Rackoff & Zoe Share: Toronto-based marketing & tech professionals & Co-authors of a kids’ ABC book about the pandemic

Toronto-based marketing professionals, Zoe Share and Gabriella Rackoff, are both moms to two-year-olds. Gabriella is a brand strategist and creative director. She joined an early-stage startup and grew a small marketing division into Eighty-Eight, a boutique agency serving startups, the tech space, and forward-thinking companies of all sizes. Most recently, she led brand strategy at Jiffy, a Toronto-based home services startup. Kindergarten teacher turned creative agency owner and mom Zoe Share, has always dreamed of publishing children’s books. Both spend a lot of time reading with their kids, and they had the idea of creating a kids’ book that was relevant to what we’re experiencing now, while still feeling fun and positive. A serendipitous conversation led to them deciding to work together to create this book and get it out to parents. ABC–Stay Home with Me is an alphabet book designed to be fun for parents to read with young children while being relevant to the current global pandemic. Each spread was illustrated by a Canadian illustrator (13 in total) who generously donated their time and skills to make this project a reality, and two local print houses offered their printing services to cover the initial run of 1,000 books, which have almost sold out since our launch on April 29.

 

My first job ever was…

Zoe – a lifeguard and swim instructor.
Gabriella – a sales associate at Caban, a furniture and lifestyle concept store by Club Monaco that was awesome but doesn’t exist anymore.   

The idea for ABC Stay Home With Me came to me… 

Zoe – when Gabriella approached me with the idea to do a children’s book, and I met her energy and we simply began creating.
Gabriella – I was reading with my son shortly after the lockdown started.

My boldest move to date was…

Zoe – leaving a clear path of teaching to become an entrepreneur.
Gabriella – having a child. Building a career was something I gravitated towards without really thinking about it. Deciding to become a parent was a complicated process.

I surprise people when I tell them…

Zoe – that I avoid caffeine.
Gabriella – I never learned to drive, and my parents don’t have licenses either. I’ve always lived downtown and didn’t think I needed it. Now learning is on my to-do list.  

My best advice to people interested in publishing a book is… 

Zoe – to let your creativity lead you, there is always room for creativity even if there isn’t a traditional publisher available.
Gabriella – these days you don’t need anyone’s permission. We completely self-published. A couple of things we found useful: build an audience so you have someone to sell to, and think about marketing angles along with the book.  

 

“Every job has aspects and days you don’t like. In the long run, your work won’t suffer because you took time for yourself.”

 

My biggest setback was… 

Zoe – working on my own mindset and believing I can reach my own wildest dreams.
Gabriella – my own self-doubt. Always.

I overcame it by… 

Zoe – making time to think, journal, and surround myself with people who get it.
Gabriella – I think this is a case of paying attention to your successes and realizing that everyone makes mistakes and the consequences usually aren’t as bad as you think. 

Work/life balance is… 

Zoe – a lie, but worth working toward. You can have both, but often not at the same time. There are costs to stakeholders in your business or to people in your personal life when you prioritize one over the other and there are costs to yourself in pretending that you are doing it all well. I recommend owning this fact and getting used to leaning in and out of balance.
Gabriella – different for everyone. loving what you do certainly helps, but every job has aspects and days you don’t like. In the long run, your work won’t suffer because you took time for yourself.   

What I’ve enjoyed most about creating ABC Stay Home With Me is…

Zoe –  working with reading the book with my daughter. She loves “mummy’s book” and it is an honour to help nurture her love of reading through my own.
Gabriella – getting validation through the amazing response we’ve gotten from people media. It’s great to do something for yourself, but this was an idea that I really wanted other people to connect with, so it was great to see that.

Working in marketing before creating a book helped me…

Zoe –  to have strategic goals and direction within an otherwise passion-driven project.
Gabriella –  package the idea, sell the concept to the illustrators initially, and then to the media.   

I stay inspired by…

Zoe – learning new things. Collecting information from new books, news articles and people keeps my creative brain strong.
Gabriella – Reading, listening to podcasts, and visiting design websites.

The future excites me because…

Zoe – I feel I am equipped to help revitalize the economy and the way people think about giving.
Gabriella – it’s unpredictable! As society evolves, there will continually be new opportunities to create a culture that does good.