Focus Discussion of the Week:
The House That SHE Built is a brand new children’s book inspired by the home created and completed by The Utah Home Builders Association’s Professional Women in Building Council. Tune in as Mollie Elkman and Georgia Castellano — the author and illustrator of the book, respectively — reflect on how this empowering book will help tell the story of this phenomenal house long after it is sold.
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Two thought leaders come together to explore all things sales and marketing from their unique perspectives. Each week, Mollie Elkman, Matt Riley, and others from Group Two dive into a focus discussion to talk about the latest trends, changes, and best practices.
One of the things that was really important to us as the book was being created was showing different skin colors, showing different abilities, showing different body sizes, showing just as much diversity as as we could within our the color palette we had for the book. And just like making this something where everyone could feel ownership of, of this project. And I think that’s that’s like a key piece of this really, for me, this book is everyone’s in the housing industry. And we genuinely want everyone in housing to feel ownership of this book, because this is our story as an industry to share.
Hi, and welcome to building perspective with Matt Riley and Molly open. We’re here to bring value to you and your team by exploring all things sales and marketing related, all from different perspectives.
All right, and our focus discussion this week is The House That SHE Built. So I am so excited to have Georgia here with me, Georgia, Castellano is our creative director at group two, and also the amazing illustrator of The House That She Built children’s book, which we’re going to talk about today. So welcome, Georgia.
Thanks for having me.
So what we’re going to do is keep this very informal. But we do want to get across a few like main points about the house that she built project as well as the book. So what we’re going to focus on is, what it is why it’s important for industry. And what’s next. So those are the three main takeaways from the podcast today. So let’s talk about first what it is. So what I want to talk about here is the house and what it is as a project. And then of course, the book. So the house that she built is actually a real house that was created and completed by the Utah home builders association professional women in Building Council. And it’s for their parade of homes, which is this week, Can you believe that? It’s amazing. We’ve been to I feel like we’ve been like talking about this parade for so long. So it’s crazy that it’s actually here.
And I’ve been and we both have been following the project on Instagram, and you know, they feature a different woman. And every single time they feature a new woman, we’re both like, Did you see that? That woman she’s amazing. And we talked about it, and it’s been so exciting to follow the process.
So I feel really lucky, I’m actually flying out next week, and I’m gonna get to go and see the home in person. And in this like crazy way This home has changed my life. And I think I’m just like, really shifted my focus on the industry and where I can bring the most value and to go and see it in person. Like I feel like I’m gonna like cry when I step through the front door. And I I’ve already, like so many women were involved in this project, but just that I’m gonna get to meet a handful of these women who I’ve been following so closely for the last year. I’m just super excited about that. So, um, let’s a little background on why we’re a part of this project. Because I think, you know, I want to clarify that and make sure that that makes sense. So Georgia and I were we are beyond inspired by the mission of the house that she built. We actually did the marketing and the branding for the project in Utah. And that’s really where our involvement started. Georgia named the project the house that she built, I will never forget sitting here and kind of like brainstorming and thinking about different things and did the branding for the for the project to help secure donations and all that stuff. So that’s really where we got involved.
And the the name came about because we were talking about, you know, all the women and how many different people are going to be a part of the project and people flying in from from all over. And we talked about that, you know, that poem, the nursery rhyme the house that jack built, this is the house that jack built. And that’s it. It’s actually called the structure of the poem is called a building poem, because every line builds on the next one, and that poems a little silly and it’s you know, it’s not Obviously a direct comparison to the house that she built. But that was the inspiration, this nursery rhymes. And it fits so well because the women are literally building the home and building on each line. And it was so congruent to the way that the poem was structured that we just thought it was so perfect.
Yeah, so that that’s how we named the project that was before we even thought about the book. We were so inspired by the project, and just like following it, and as it went on I and at one point, there was just this like, aha moment of like, Oh, my gosh, this, this can be a book and this story can and should continue on long after this home is sold, because this story is really important. And I think that’s what we want to focus on in this podcast is why is this story so important that we are like, so excited to introduce this children’s book to the market. The children’s book is not just for the housing industry, it is it will be in Barnes and Noble, it will be on Amazon, it’ll be available in regular bookstores. And that is a part of the bigger mission of the actual book. So I put in here the description of that of the book. This is this is what you’ll see when you go to Barnes and Noble. The house that she built educates young readers about the people and skills that go into building a home. One by one we learn about the architect framer roofer, and many more as they contribute their individual skills needed to complete the collective project a new home with illustrations that connect and empower and words that build upon each other with each page. This book will leave all kids she he and they excited about their own skills, and interested in learning new ones. So this is really a mission based project. It is an awesome story and a great book for all young readers. But there really is a mission here. And that is why we publish this book with any HB builder books, shout out to Patricia, she has been awesome. We loveyou,
we love you. Um, but we also pulled in other groups within NAHB that have been a massive part of this mission, and also a part of why we’re so driven with this project. So really, it’s a combination of professional women in building, workforce development, and the new diversity and inclusion Task Force, and they all go hand in hand. So um, as far as professional women and building let’s start there, so the project in Utah a lot of the motivation is, is because of the fact that less than 3% of skilled workers are women. So just like me, I was recruited into the housing industry by my dad. And what I’ve realized over the years is most of the women I meet in the industry, were also brought in through a fit like a male family member. The person who specifically brought me into this project is Kristi Allen. And she was brought in by her dad, same with Stephanie Sharp, another general contractor on this project, to it’s become this consistent theme. And that’s really where professional women and building comes in. How do we have the women who are in housing recruit other women. And that leads into a bigger conversation about overall workforce development. So that’s a big piece of this for for us. This is not just about women in building this is about overall workforce development. So Georgia and I talk a lot about the labor shortage, among many other things. There are shortages in material. There’s a lot of other issues in housing right now. The one that we’re really focusing on is the labor shortage, because it’s such a natural fit with our skill set and and this story and how we can help. So with the labor shortage, there is a lot of amazing effort out there. There nhp has student chapters I have learned so much in this past year. I mean every day, Georgia, I probably call you and I’m like I talked to this trade school in Denver and oh my goodness, I didn’t even know in Iowa that they are doing these amazing programs. And they are they are this is already their mission. So there are people and organizations out there that workforce development is their passion and they live and breathe it every day and I am becoming educated. about that. So that’s been really cool for us to learn about, um, a lot of those programs are targeted to high school students, and maybe some are targeted to middle school, and they are absolutely incredible. And if that is you, and you’re listening to this, and you’re a part of workforce development in your local market, reach out to us because we want to, we want to hear what you’re doing, we want to partner with you, the work you’re doing is so important. So what makes our book a little bit different, and why it can enhance the work that’s being done at the middle school and high school level, is the mission of our book is really to start the conversation at the age when identity is developing, and even influence the parents and the teachers who were reading the book about how they set the framework for aspirational thinking about the future. And Georgia we talk about this, like, as far as for us, like our generation, if you’re going to college, it wasn’t even a discussion.
Never. And, you know, there’s, it’s so funny, because when you’re when you’re little people, either they asked you what you want to be when you grow up, and we have preschool age kids, and we ask them what they want to be when when they grow up, but they don’t know, they don’t really know what all their options are. And as you start to form, and I remember myself starting to form that identity, it was really based on, you know, what we had in front of us. So it is very limited, and the more and more you can expand young children’s understanding of what they have to look forward to and all the exciting opportunities and talking about laying the foundation and and installing the electric and all these very specific options that are available that are exciting and noble. And, you know, you work with your hands and you’re outside and so many of these trades and, and careers that I certainly didn’t know about when I was growing up. And I think that most kids, you know, they typically say like, they want to be Superman or like they want to be something and that’s so of course that’s a great answer to but being able to have those real conversations and and expand the horizons of young minds has been really fun. And we’ve, we’ve we’ve tested the book on, you know, some kindergarten classes already and on our own kids. And it’s just so cool to see, you know, their eyes wide get wide every time that the page turns and they learn about another path that they could go on.
Yeah, I think when we share it, it’s the My favorite part is that it cultivates so much conversation. And that’s what we want, we want kids being curious about their own skills. So my son, for example, he identified he loves math, and that’s something that he really is proud of. And when when we’re reading about the engineer and talking about math, now since this book, he has decided he wants to be an engineer. And he asked him if he could take a class online about engineering and, and that is that 100% came from these conversations and connecting that skill that he already identifies with, with options for down the road. So it’s just it’s a great conversation starter. Because even if the skill is do you have you ever built with Legos? Have you ever built a fort, have you you know, working with your hands and starting, you know, the conversation there, we talk about math, we talk about creativity with colors and design and all of that and every child and every person can really relate to those skills and being proud of the skill that they have, and and focusing on how to develop that. So I think that has been so rewarding is seeing how children and parents respond to this to the book and the conversation. I actually had a call with a financial planner the other day, and it got me a little bit upset in a way because one of the things that we talked about was retirement planning and planning for your kids for college. It was like such a part of the conversation and the amount of like money and planning. You know, thinking about your kids going into college, you do have to plan for that and think about it and it’s all that helps create this narrative that Okay, my kids go into college like that is the path for them and it takes away this individualized perspective of is that right for my child is is my specific child and their skills and what is in their best interest, are they meant to go to a to a college for a degree in whatever and business or something like that? Or would they be better off going into the trades and learning a skill and mastering it and going directly into the workforce and having an opportunity to generate an amazing life and income right away without going into debt? You know, these conversations we don’t realize are just such a part of our natural day to day interaction, and we really need to break it. So that’s a, that’s a big part of why we, we feel so inspired to start the conversation at such a young age. Both of us are moms to young children, and these are conversations we’re already having. And I think it’s, you know, for us that that’s part of that fire behind the story, for sure.
Yeah, and making sure that they don’t think or, you know, there’s no assumption that not going to college is and doing something else is some kind of failure or less than, and that all of these trades and skills like he’s I love saying you master a skill, like it’s so cool, and we just really want to light the fire that this is every one of these options is just a really valid and exciting and just as amazing to choose that path than any, you know, thing you would master in college, even though you do need to go to college to be an engineer.
You know, it’s, it’s interesting, because like, even when you go to school, I’m thinking more like elementary school, you have to worry about all these different subjects, but you have to be interested in good at everything. And, you know, it’s almost like, we emphasize that rather than really building up the skills that we’re naturally more geared for. So I know for me, I only did good in two classes. And that was art and English. That was it. And guess what, those are the two things that I use in my career. So I think those, you know, really focusing on on that skill and building it. And there’s just a huge opportunity there. So one of the things that, of course, has been top of mind for both of us is that, for us this story, it is obviously called the house that she built, it was inspired by this amazing project, and this professional women’s group in Utah, but for us the book is is really not just about women, it is about every single underrepresented community in our industry, women just happened to be one of them, but there are a lot of underrepresented communities. And we want to make sure that the next generation sees someone that they can identify with in housing, because that’s how we build the workforce is people want to see someone that they can identify with, to see that this is a place where they could could really see a future. And of course, Georgia did an amazing job with that illustrating the story and, and trying to show different people I mean, one of the things that was really important to us as as with this bill, as the book was being created was showing different skin colors showing different abilities showing different body sizes, showing just as much diversity as as we could within our the color palette we had for the book, and just like making this something where everyone could feel ownership of, of this project. And I think that’s that’s like a key piece of this really, for me this book is everyone’s in the housing industry, and we genuinely want everyone in housing to feel ownership of this book, because this is our story as an industry to share.
Yeah, and one of the things I love about it too, and the sound so like, Elementary in the idea and so obvious, but of course, building a home is is a collective project, it’s a collaborative effort, and every single person that you know, is involved is a master of their skill. And when everyone comes together and contributes that, it, you know, the The result is this, this thing that everyone did together and there’s something you know, that’s, I think is is underlying to about about that is that when we all come together, and folk and contribute the things that we’re really good at, we make something amazing. And so that that’s that’s a big part of it too, and it’s it’s a revolving around that, that’s what happened in Utah. That’s what happened between me and Molly when we made the book. And so many of those, those little lessons, I think are in there too.
I love that it’s, you know, building up the individual on also showing how as an individual, you can work together as a part of a bigger team for something bigger. The other piece that I’ve been thinking a lot about is just, you know, this idea of, you’re talking about a home and really like cultivating this curiosity of, you know, what we’re talking about what’s behind the walls, we’re talking about what goes into something that I think a lot of us take for granted, you know, you walk into a space, and you don’t realize how much work and how many people work together to make that space around you. And so you know, you almost like if you’re, if, as you read it to a child, you see them kind of looking around at the floor and the, you know, the walls, and you just like see this curiosity about the space that they’re in, in real time. And that part of it is, is really cool to experience. So Georgia, I, of course, want to talk a little bit about just the book itself, the colors and the brand, and just how we want people to feel when they look at the pages and read the words. So why don’t you touch on that?
Yeah, so the color palette itself was completely inspired by the branding that we did for the actual project. And what we did was we took those colors, and added a little bit more vibrancy, to, obviously to make it more of a children’s palette. But we were also very conscious of not making it you know, to pink or to typically something that you would see. And honestly, Pink is my favorite color. So nothing against things being all pink. But we just really wanted to make it feel vibrant without being, you know, obvious that it’s, you know, because it’s not just for girls, like Molly said. And another thing that I think about the process of making each page, it and the whole book is that every time I got to a new trade, and it was time to do the, the you know, the concrete labor and figure out what’s going to go where on the page, every time I got there, I said, Oh my god, I’m not going to be able to do this one, this one’s too hard. And then, you know, by focusing on one little step at a time, and you know, really just like blocking out thinking about how it was a whole big thing that I had to finish and just what he said, and now I’m gonna make her tools. And now I’m going to make the truck and I was able to do it. And so for me, it was such a, it was it was so
rewarding, and really skill building for me to in my confidence and in the way that I illustrate. And what I took from it was that, you know, that’s how I want kids to feel, I want them to feel inspired to get started and to be creative without focusing too much on the end product. And just being able to do and make and explore their own skills, you know, without, without any kind of inhibition, because that’s that’s how I felt while I was making the book.
And because of that we really have taken this book and the brand of the book, and we’re actually building upon it, and making this a bigger mission. So we have a coloring book that has is being printed by out house, they have donated the printing of this amazing coloring book that gets children thinking it’s there’s also activities in there that are very specific to the skills that we talk about for each of the trades. We have merchandise that goes with the book, we have building blocks, we have a wood puzzle, all different things where children can use their creativity and think and really highlight the skills that we talked about for these different trades. So all of that you can follow all of that and get links to the the actual home and the project that inspired this entire mission. On our website it is she built book.com and we just want to remind everyone that this is your story, and we really need everyone in housing in order to make the biggest impact. So if you have questions or comments, we would love for you to be involved because, of course we’re very passionate about this and we Want the entire industry to feel ownership of sharing this story and being a part of this bigger mission. So thank you, Georgia, for your amazing illustration and just being, you know, totally enthusiastic about this project. And I know this has become our baby. And I know both of us are probably just gonna freak out when we are holding the book in our hands. You can pre order it. So if you go to Sheba books calm, you will see where you can order it through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And we encourage you to do that. And we encourage you to get in touch. And congratulations to everyone in Utah for the parade this week. And thank you to everyone who’s already been involved in this project and excited about this project and sharing it and we’re, we’re excited to take it to the next level and see you all at the builder show and our book launch and to go from there. So thank you, Georgia, and thank you to our listeners.