SC mom’s bookselling passion takes her on trip to France
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News March 17, 2013 4:52PM
Jennifer Strohl, Barefoot Books
Updated: April 19, 2013 6:05AM
ST. CHARLES — As budding readers, Jennifer Strohl’s children took such a liking to a particular set of library books that they acted out a bit when the loan period was over.
Trusting their judgment, Strohl became an independent sales representative for Barefoot Books, her kids’ favorite publisher, and through her success has earned a trip to France.
“The books are so beautiful,” said Strohl, who left the corporate world to focus on raising her children.
But that decision led to a professional void — now filled by her role with the books. “The messages, the artwork, they are so engaging and captivating,” she said.
While she is completely impressed with the product’s quality, the size of the company presents “advantages and disadvantages,” Strohl said.
“All the products they offer are fantastic and are fun to share wherever I am,” she said. “At the same time, the company is limited in what they offer because they want to make sure their offerings are a consistent high quality that is worth sharing.”
Strohl said the quality of the books justifies their higher costs, which she said is about three times the price of others.
“I tell parents it’s an investment,” Strohl said. “At the end of the day, it was these experiences with these books that almost provide a way of life that (my children) expect more from a book.”
Her sons, Colby, 12, and Tyler, 10, are “voracious readers,” says their mom. Barefoot Books, based in Massachusetts, offer endnotes about their subjects, so children can feed their curiosity by reaching for more knowledge on what they’re reading, Strohl said.
“They want to know what else they can learn about a topic,” she said. “It really inspires them to explore their creative gifts.”
In addition to her fondness for the literature, the sales component of the job also has kept Strohl engaged. She’s been with the company almost nine years and says she enjoys the scheduling flexibility. Some weeks she works as few as two hours, and others, she puts in up to 40 hours. Sales transactions are in person, and online.
“It’s kind of a team structured thing where you come in to this selling team and sponsor other people and help guide them in developing their business,” said Strohl, who achieved the Highest Team Sales award and earned a trip to France as her reward. “My team’s sales were the highest within the North America segment of the program,” she said
Key to her success, she said, is the support from her husband, Mike, the efforts of her sales reps, and the continual mission of Barefoot Books.
“One of the things I think that really sets them apart as a publisher is that they don’t dumb down their stories,” she said. “They respect the intellectual potential of children today.”