We had the good fortune of connecting with Portia Perkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Portia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
During a temporary loss of employment during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, instead of dwelling in the negative mental space while job searching, I decided to use the downtime to develop a children’s book idea that was in my mind for the last few years. Instead of potentially waiting years to go through the traditional publishing route since I had extra time, I decided to start my own publishing company to release it under and have ownership of it. I had given so much to the corporate world and during that time I felt like I wanted something of my own. My independent publishing house, Clarendon Publishing is named after the parish in Jamaica where my family is from and highlights multicultural stories and diverse characters. My first debut title, Sundays Are the Best was released in November 2020.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Writing along with my love for traveling has always felt like a break from the world around me. I have always been drawn to the fact that art of all forms has the potential to live on forever and allows us to explore and understand so many worlds. My day job is actually as an Account Director in the advertising industry working with Fortune 500 companies on their brand campaigns. After graduating college I worked in public relations for a couple of years and then eventually ended up on a team at an advertising agency where I was an assistant to a fearless Aussie boss who I learned so much from and who listened to my aspirations and allowed me to transition from being on the administrative side to the client services side and I’ve worked in the industry for most of my career ever since. The corporate world comes with its challenges of course but I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to always be your biggest advocate, even the people who mean well will never have your back as you do. Throughout the years I did apply to jobs in the publishing industry but was deterred for one reason or another but the love of writing and passion for books never went away. My goal for my publishing company is to make sure children of color have stories that bring them joy. There is so much depth to people of color and so many different cultures and ethnicities to explore. My debut release, Sundays are the Best is a touching children’s book that showcases a sweet weekly ritual between a young girl Sasha and her grandmother Mama as they make precious memories and cook up delicious Jamaican meals paying homage to my experience as a Caribbean American. I would love for people to continue to support creators of color but also independent creators of color. There are so many great films, books, etc. that do not get recognition because they don’t have a huge backing or resources, especially when just starting. My release beat my expectations because of the support of everyone around me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
NYC has endless options when it comes to things to do. Since my favorite mealtime is brunch, I would recommend starting the day there at a restaurant like Sarabeth’s near Central Park where you can go for a walk after. Top of the list after that would be visiting a bookstore or museum. I try to shop local as much as possible so I would recommend The Lit. Bar (Bronx), Strand Book Store (Manhattan) or even visiting the NY Public Library. When it comes to museums you can’t go wrong with The Met or the Brooklyn Museum. I am a pescatarian so I like restaurants that offer seafood and vegetarian options. For lunch or dinner, one of my favorites is Miss Lily’s which has yummy Jamaican food/drinks & vibes and if you love Thai food like myself I recommend SriPraPhai (Queens) or SEA (Williamsburg). While in Queens you may want to grab some Korean BBQ in Flushing. Also on my list especially if you visit in the summertime, is the US Open Tennis tournament, the NY Botanical Garden, catching a show at the Blue Note Jazz Club, or a NY Knicks Game (during the season).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mom. She is a mother of 5 and truly a superwoman. Her sacrifices allowed me many opportunities that she never had. Although she has been through so much she has a heart of gold and would do anything for her children or other people in need. She is funny, sassy, and most of all selfless. I know I can never repay her for everything that she has done for me but I hope she knows I am me because of her.