By Nailah Heard
Leah Hernandez is the CEO of Purposeful Millennials Publishing Company and the author and publisher of Try God, which was published last May. She is also the founder of consulting agency Boss Babes at Work, which is dedicated to uniting and empowering young female entrepreneurs.
Hernandez cares deeply about her Atlanta community, Vine City, and recently started a new youth program, the Young Authors Program, which gives middle school students the necessary tools to write their first book. The program is designed for the students to hone their writing skills while gaining firsthand experience of how to publish and distribute their books. After the six-month process, when the books are completed and distributed, a savings account will be set up so that their profits can be deposited to help pay for their college education.
Hernandez shared with rolling out her purpose in teaming up with an Atlanta middle school and why helping them write their first book will be beneficial for both the students and the community. Check out what she had to say below.
What led you to start a publishing company? Tell us the meaning behind the namePurposeful Millennials.
I started the company last year in March. During the time I was writing the book [Try God] one of my mentors told me that I needed to start a business. More specifically because there was a new program launching that would help people start and grow [small] businesses. Honestly, it just fell into my lap; this wasn’t an industry I thought I would be in but from there I started doing more research on it. The name [Purposeful Millennials] came from purpose, everything I do I want to ensure that it has a purpose behind it. Millennials came into play because … I think society kind of places a negative connotation on millennials. I wanted to ensure that I gave millennials the opportunity to show their talents.
What are some of the qualities you look for in aspiring young authors for your publishing company? Tell us about some of the current authors that are with your publishing company.
When someone submits their manuscript the main thing I look for is purpose and if [the book] will help someone else. Every book that we have published has helped someone in some way, shape or form. It’s not just about the book, it can be an amazing manuscript that is presented to me but, if the author isn’t willing to put in the work then I won’t take it. The current authors are myself, which is the book I published last May titled, Try God, which talks about how to have an authentic relationship with God. My second author, Dynastee McDowell, and her book is titled,Shoutout To My Ex: I Loved, I Lost, I Conquered and that book talks about how to bounce back from a breakup and how to turn your pain into purpose. My next authors are a group of 10- to 12-year-olds and they are writing a book regarding their community. So, currently, I have about 14 authors.
Aside from being the CEO of a publishing company, you are also the founder of the consulting agency Boss Babes at Work, what inspired you to create this organization?
The summer of 2017, I felt it heavy on my heart to unite women entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses and brands. When I came back to Atlanta from California, a young lady reached out to me who is the CEO of Melanin Bar, Cierra J., and she was putting a documentary together on women entrepreneurs and millennial entrepreneurs. She featured me in her documentary and after we filmed it I was telling her, ‘I really admire your work ethic and the growth in your business and I want to encourage you to keep going.’ We could’ve easily looked at each other as competitors because we are both young women entrepreneurs but, instead, we collaborated. Since then we had an event, Business Over Brunch, our second one is in February in Atlanta and we have another event in Los Angeles which will be March 10.
Recently, you started a youth program for students in Atlanta, the Young Authors Program. What led you to focus on young students? How are you hoping to effect change within the youth and the community?
What led me to young students is [because] I feel like when you are a child your imagination is unlimited and as you get older a lot of outside sources begin to put things in your head like, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t achieve that.’ But, when you’re a kid the sky is the limit. The area I picked is the West End and Vine City community which is a very underdeveloped city within the Atlanta metro area [and] is heavily [involved] with gang violence, drug addiction, and drug abuse. I chose this city because I wanted to work with children who would not normally get the opportunity to achieve something like this. [It’s great] to be able to become an author before going to high school and to have a college savings account where royalties are put in every single month so that way they can strive to go to college and get a higher education. If this program can change the lives of these 10- to 12- [year-old] students, then that dynamic has the power to shift the entire community.