From marketer to author and publisher, Kimberly Gordon ’03 seizes opportunities and delivers positive messages
Children’s book author and publishing entrepreneur Kimberly (Lindsey) Gordon loved writing ever since she was a little girl, but never thought it could be her career. At Williston, the Franklin, Mass., native channeled her considerable energy into athletics, captaining the track team for three years, and playing field hockey and basketball. When she discovered the school’s Writers’ Workshop program, she “fell in love with it,” she recalls. “We met authors. We had seminars. I was exposed to a whole community of individuals that were publishing books, traveling the world. But I just didn’t ever connect that as something that I could possibly do.”
After graduation, Gordon earned her B.A. at Simmons, majoring in communications (with minors in English and Africana studies) followed by an M.A. in communications from Columbia. She found success in the business world, specializing in digital marketing for the College Board and Reed Business Information, among others. “I loved it,” she says. “But corporate America just wasn’t a fit for me.” In 2010 she decided to start her own company, Gordon Business Solutions, providing digital marketing for a range of clients, one of which happened to be a publisher of children’s books. Working on that project gave Gordon a glimpse of a lesser known facet of the writer’s world: the marketing side. “That opened my eyes to what being an author was,” she recalls. “And how important what I knew—marketing—was to becoming an author.”
A few years later, now married with two young daughters, Gordon was shopping when her 3-year-old asked for a doll that was “like her.” They couldn’t find one. “If there was an African American doll, she didn’t feel it was like her. So I had to explain to her business and marketing through this conversation. And, I was like, This is a great book idea.”
Inspired, the author in Gordon emerged. The result was A Doll Like Me, a picture book, published in 2015, that tells the story of a girl named Mia who wants a doll that is as individual as she is, “a chocolate ballerina” who wears a purple superhero cape, has curly hair, and plays the guitar. When she can’t find one at the local stores, Mia and her friends, with the help of her fashion-designer mother, make their own, and soon are selling their custom doll kits to the other kids in town.
“It’s about starting a business and following your dreams, staying dedicated and focused,” Gordon explains. “That’s something of importance to me, raising my kids with that mindset, which I did not know. I’m educating the next generation about things that I have learned, and continue to learn, in the business world, but in language that they can understand.”
To support the book, Gordon transformed her marketing business into a publishing company, 5D Media, and soon had spun off a coloring book version of A Doll Like Me titled Black Girl Boss. She has since written a number of other books, including I Am a Dancer Every Day of the Week (which she also illustrated— she is a former Scholastic Gold Key art award winner), about how practice leads to accomplishment, and A Day With Uncle Bembe, in which a boy experiences the work of his business-owning uncle. Now, five years later, 5D Media has published more than a dozen books, with others in the pipeline, including adult nonfiction titles on addiction and recovery, spirituality, and personal growth. This year, Gordon notes, her focus is on nonfiction children books and workbooks to support the diversity initiatives of school districts, parents, and homeschooling families. The company also produces school curricula and digital streaming content to support the books, selling to school districts primarily in the New York City area but also around the country and internationally.
Underlying both the children’s and adult titles is what Gordon calls “a deeper message” of personal empowerment and human potential. “The aim of 5D Media content is to help an individual grow and transform into who they want to be,” she explains, adding that an earlier marketing project for a recovery group introduced her to the social and personal costs of addiction. Being who you want to be requires having a clear mind, she says, which is not possible if you are controlled by drugs or alcohol. That realization led her to publish addiction and self-help content, “as we could not help the children without also helping the parents, teens, and young adults.”
That message of growth is reflected in her personal life as well. “I had to transform into the person that I am today,” says Gordon, who not only manages her business, with its six employees, from the New York City home she shares with her entrepreneur husband, but also homeschools her two daughters, now ages 9 and 6. “I have to have a schedule for everything—my husband’s schedule, my kids’ schedule, my schedule. I have my own business meeting, then I have a business meeting with my husband, then I have a business meeting with my staff. With my kids, we have a meeting before bed. We have goals. I learned how to run my family like a business in order to survive.”
That confidence to take on challenges, Gordon notes, has its roots in her Williston experience. “The community, the support system— which I didn’t have in college—I felt that from my first campus visit,” she recalls. “I still love it to this day. I’m still friends with my friends from Williston. That feeling of being on campus has stuck with me and supported my belief that I could venture out and try something new.”
And she continues to do so. This holiday season, 5D Media released Gordon’s The Secret History of Popular Symbols Used in Everyday Life, the first in a series of nonfiction children’s books focused on spiritual growth.