Hi! If this is your first time visiting our site, welcome.
My name is Alexandra Romualdez Broekman, and I'm the CEO and Founder of Kado Publishing. As you may already know, we are an independent publishing house, registered in the Philippines. Our focus is on sharing stories by Filipino, and other Asian, artists and writers with people all over the world. While we specialise in children's or picture books, I am a firm believer that this genre of literature is universal, and even as an adult, I take great pleasure and inspiration from lit for little ones every day.
Kado Publishing started off as a personal project in late 2020. In the midst of a global pandemic, I found myself reevaluating my life. I invested in a short online course by the talented creative, Nirrimi Firebrace, and in doing the different activities she formulated to help you hone in on your creative dreams, I realised I had allowed fear and a lack of confidence overtake my life-long ambitions of being an artist, illustrator, and author. Emboldened by what I was learning - not just about myself, but also about the convergence of skills I had acquired over the first decade of my career (more on that later), I decided to take a leap of faith. I began researching what it would take to become a publisher in September 2020. Fast forward almost 1 year, and Kado has published 14 titles, sold thousands of books, donated hundreds of dollars to several diverse charitable organisations, and we are just at the tip of the iceberg. Of course, none of this could have been possible without the help of our lawyer in the Philippines, my supportive parents who help with administrative and logistical tasks, my husband who helps with finance and strategy, my 2 young children - our "Chief Product Officers", and the many partners/artists/writers we have been working with to bring these stories to life.
WE ARE ALL BORN STORYTELLERS
I am a firm believer that we're all born storytellers, and as we grow these stories grow with us - they morph and become the lives we live, the dreams we aspire for, the comedies and tragedies of experience, of existence.
We each tell our stories in our own ways, and it just so happens that I have always been the kind of person who has used words and visuals. As far back as I can remember, I would fold and staple papers together to write little short stories; I'd fill diaries and journals and binders full of character studies; I'd play out elaborate scenes with my dolls to work out realistic dialogue before putting pen to paper; the list goes on.
When I was 9, my grandmother gifted me a vintage typewriter, and I lugged the contraption along with me on weekends, the keys clacking obnoxiously, working out "manuscripts." It must have driven my father crazy, because he (not long after) gifted me his old, beat up, slightly less clunky IBM laptop. It could only type documents, so it was only a small improvement over the typewriter, but it was certainly less noisy and it could read diskettes. I carted that around another couple of years until the screen gave out. Later on, when we had a family computer, my best friend (and writing partner) Sabrina Schnabel, and I would write books together. We would meet at lunch in school, and trade scribbled papers of ideas and plot points, then we'd go home and write on our family computers, and the next day we'd trade diskettes of the files, taking turns to update and edit each others work. By high school, we had published tens of thousands of words on sites like LiveJournal, FictionPress, and FanFiction, and were reaching hundreds of readers.
I believed I had some talent, but I was also afraid to sell it. I was a high-achiever, and terrified of failure. Case in point: When I was 11, someone offered to publish my poems if I illustrated something for each one. I started off enthusiastic, but about halfway through lost my nerve. Who will buy this? What if it sucks? What if people hate it? I made excuses about being busy, and having schoolwork, and gave up.
There were many other similar instances where I would back out on my own dreams, and make excuses. I attended a highly academic, traditional school, and had been told many times in my early life that corporate work would be the safe, practical decision, and that Fine Arts and Creative Writing should be done "on the side" or "could be done any time, at any age, after you've made your fortune." It was with this expectation over my head that I shelved my artistic dreams "for the future" and pursued more "sensible" work.
A PRACTICAL CAREER
After graduating with a degree in Communication Arts (a compromise that married some advertising and marketing studies with film, animation, and fine arts), my first jobs were all in marketing. I was a marketing intern at Yahoo Philippines when the company was reaching its peak cool factor, and I tried my hand in advertising and agency work with BBDO Guerrero, but it was really at Coca-Cola Far East Ltd in Singapore that I kicked off my career. Coca-Cola hired me as a marketing intern to take on the Vitaminwater and Dasani ("Hydration") profiles in Singapore. I moved to a whole new country, and began a life there. I learned a lot from Coke - about product testing, "sentiment" analysis, brand value, brand awareness, and partnerships.
My longest stint in a company, though, was with Google. From 2013 - 2019, I worked with Google in their marketing department. First, on Google+ in Singapore, then on Ads Marketing in Indonesia, then with YouTube. At Google, I met life-long friends, went on incredible adventures, and learned about such important concepts as: unconscious bias, representation in marketing, writing a good brief, telling a real story, and working as a team.
EDUCATION FOR ALL
In between my stints as a student, a marketer, and corporate professional, I held another cause very dear to my heart: education. Though my mother was in corporate work for many years, she also was a teacher. When I was in preschool and kindergarten, she taught at the school I attended, and throughout my elementary and high school careers, she hosted summer art classes in the guest house on our property or in rented out classrooms at a nearby parish church. When I was old enough, in high school, she involved my sister and I as teachers, and so it was through those experiences that I grew to not only love learning, but also teaching and the gift of education.
It was with this spirit that I volunteered in different educational capacities. When doing the required community service hours in university, I helped develop study plans for children and tutored kids in the shanty towns by the railroad in Tondo. I worked on a pilot program for learning solutions to provide access to education to children, illustrating and laying out an interactive learning system for handheld devices that was being beta-tested amongst street children. I did volunteer educational work with Gawad Kalinga's Sibol school in Multinational Village, and with the World Wide Fund for Nature. And in 2011, after a terrifying accident (seriously) made me question my life's work and purpose, I took a 2 year long break from the corporate world and taught and tutored primary school children at an international school in Singapore. Even though I went back to corporate marketing after that stint, the experience working in education, and that desire to see a vision of EDUCATION FOR ALL fulfilled stayed with me. During my tenure at Google, I ran a Silver Surfers curriculum teaching seniors from a nursing home in Singapore basic digital skills, and regularly volunteered and donated to related educational causes.
After my second child was born, I took another sabbatical from corporate life, during which I got a diploma in Montessori Early Childhood Education. Since then, I have pivoted my career and dedicated it to literacy, the arts, and education in a full-time capacity. I do this not only through my work with Kado Publishing, but also my work with Hacktiv8 (a digital skills bootcamp and school that is passionate about improving educational and career opportunities for all Indonesians).
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
So back to the beginning of this blog post, and Kado's reason for being. Overlapping with my leaving Google, joining Hacktiv8, and getting my diploma in Montessori Early Childhood Education, I found myself revisiting my old dreams, and discovering (perhaps owed to maturity and life experience) a new sense of confidence. A willingness to make a leap of faith. This willingness first took me down the road of trying to write and illustrate my own books and find representation (an agent, an editor, a publisher, a publicist). But everywhere I went, the red tape seemed to be slapped across every door, and the more research I did, the more I realised that, not only is majority of global mainstream publishing power held in a surprisingly small number of hands, but those hands also happen to have a diversity problem.
With the help of research, and speaking to different advisors, I discovered that there was still plenty of room for a small, upstart diverse publisher to play. I also began to speak with young, aspiring writers and artists from my own community and saw that there was a lot of appetite to tell good stories. Armed with these realisations, my experiences in marketing and education, and the knowledge that there are many stories I'd love for my own children to grow up with that have yet to be told or have yet to find platforms, I embarked on a journey that has brought us to this point.
Moving forward, Kado's mission is quite simple. We hope to:
Build an independent publishing house that supports Filipinos and their talent, and brings that talent to the global stage. (We are dedicated to doing this with Asians from all over the region and the Asian diaspora as well)
Contribute to the further diversification of literature / the literature and publishing industry as a whole by producing work that is beautiful, high quality, and representative of the real, colorful world we are living in
Cultivate a diverse philanthropic organisation that supports many different groups and causes with both gifts-in-kind, cause marketing, and other forms of donation
The causes that are close to our heart are: education, literacy, girls' rights, women and children's rights, and the environment. We will continue to build our company with these in mind. We are glad you are along this journey with us.