It’s International Youth Day and, to celebrate, I invited Dr. Coach Cass to share the story behind her bestselling children’s book; Princess Zara’s Birthday Tradition.
I’m a firm believer in the power of planting seeds of love and kindness in our youth so if you make Time to be Kind and listen to this short episode today, you’ll feel hopeful and inspired by her mission to be the spark of change we all wish to see in the world too!
Hey PARKer, I’m Marly Q and welcome to Episode 20 with Coach Cass. Dr. Casandra Henriquez aka Coach Cass is the founder of the Success in Love Summit and The Real Love Network, where she teaches professional women how to have a happy and fulfilling love life. I invited Coach Cass to make Time to be Kind today because she’s also the author of the best-selling children’s book Princess Zara’s Birthday Tradition, and today is International Youth Day. I absolutely love her book and her mission to be the spark of change we all wish to see in the world by planting seeds of love and kindness in our youth. I think you’ll love this conversation as much as I did. So, let’s listen.
Welcome to the show my beautiful friend, Coach Cass, thank you for making the Time to be Kind today.
[01:04] Coach Cass: Oh, thanks for having me, Marly Q. I’m so excited to be here and congrats on the success of your podcast.
[01:12] Marly Q: Thank you so much. I have been blown away by the feedback and really just the momentum of Time to be Kind. I really think that it’s just resonated with people, because the Time to be Kind is now, I believe it’s always now, but especially now, in the times that we’re living in, and I know that you agree.
[01:34] Coach Cass: I do. And you know, it’s been so long that we’ve met and the fact that you have been on this path for over a decade, right? Like, this has been your life’s work, it’s just been beautiful to know now that you know, people are starting to realize that kindness is important.
[01:53] Marly Q: Yes, absolutely. So, to backtrack for our PARKers listening, how we met, well over a– girl, it’s been like, I don’t know, 15 years, I have no idea. I don’t know how far we want to date it but we went to college together at our dear old FIU, Florida International University. And we were both, you know, wanting to start our businesses and you had inspired many, you were speaking, and you were just such an inspiration to me, even as a student, I’d be like, “Look at this woman, look at her.”. And now, you have a TEDx talk, which I’m going to make sure I link in the show notes for people to listen to. You’re a matchmaker, a love coach, and now an author too, what don’t you do?
[02:37] Coach Cass: I’m Jamaican. So, if you go back to those old episodes of In Living Color, “Hey, man, I have three jobs.”. Like, I’m a multi passionate entrepreneur, like at the core of everything you do is kindness, at the core of everything I do is love.
[02:58] Marly Q: It is a continuation of your mission and your heart’s desire to spread love and connection, not just with relationships but towards yourself, I truly believe that you know, and pivoting is part of, you know, life. I’ve had to pivot, you know, in 2020 from this COVID 19 pandemic, you know, with my events business, I’ve been planning events for two decades, for 20 years, and live events, all of a sudden is not a thing. I’m like, “Wow, well, what am I going to do?”, right? And, “How am I going to pivot and still share my message and still be the spark of kindness through then, through speaking, through teaching in a virtual way?”. And starting a podcast was very, very challenging mentally for me, I had to overcome several barriers, you know, and rise and kind of tap into to some courage, right? And courage doesn’t mean that you’re not fearful, or that you’re not, you know, afraid or anxious, courage means that you feel those things and you do it anyways because your WHY is way more important than the FEARS.
[04:05] Coach Cass: I commend you girl. Like, I have the podcast name, I have the podcast link, tell me if I have recorded one podcast. So, I commend you on overcoming the fear and having the courage because it’s not easy, right? Because people can judge you, right? And they can say, I love it or I don’t love it. So, I am just proud of you and I’m inspired by you.
[04:29] Marly Q: Thank you. And I know you will start yours when the time is right. But right now, you are focused, not only on being this amazing mom, to your beautiful Ava, being a loving and dedicated wife, being an entrepreneur, a speaker, and now an author. So, today, I wanted to have you on the show because it’s International Youth Day and I want to shine the light on your mission with this beautiful children’s book that you’ve written and have launched this year amidst such difficult times that we have been experiencing. Please tell us all about your book and your mission.
[05:10] Coach Cass: Okay. Well, I’ll take it back to my daughter’s third birthday, I didn’t know, okay? That when you become a mom, you become an event planner. So, you already had the expertise, right? So, it’s like, “I got this.”, but me, okay? I was like, “Wait a second, birthdays are a big deal.”, first birthday, second birthday, not so big. Third birthday, she knew what it was, she was like, “Mommy, I want a Princess birthday party.”, right? And I was like, “Okay, baby, I got you.”. So, I went looking on the stores, looking online and couldn’t find anything with a princess that looked like her. I’m like, “This is crazy.”, right? My daughter is of a darker hue, and I was just like, “Okay.”, everybody said, “Well, what about Tiana?”. Tiana, I couldn’t find a thing with Tiana on it, and I just started to pay attention, right? Marly, so, when we went to the doctor, the doctor would hand her a sticker and say, “Baby, you did a great job today, here’s your sticker of my favorite princess.”, that favorite princess never looked like my daughter. And then, when I went into the store to get her a new night gown that maybe had a character on it that looks like her, I couldn’t find it. So, that’s when I realized there’s a real lack of representation when it comes to our merchandise and then to our programming. So, that’s when I decided, “Okay, I need to at least create a character for my daughter.”. So, that’s where princess Zara was born. My daughter’s name is Ava, and I went to lunch with a girlfriend and her husband, my husband, my daughter, and I was showing my girlfriend Princess Zara and I said, “Ava, what do you think about Princess Zara?”, she looks at her hand, she looks at the princess, she looks at her hand, she looks at the princess, she says, “Mommy, I don’t want this one. I want the other one, I want the white one.”. My girlfriend starts crying, my girlfriend’s actually white. And so, she starts crying, I’m tearing up, I’m just like, “I didn’t know it was that deep.”.
So, when we look at that test, you know, that says back in the day where the black doll versus the white doll and all the kids said the white doll was better, prettier, smarter? I really don’t think it’s because their parents told them that, I really think it’s because there was a lack of representation in the world, in our media, what was cool at the time, and then now look, again, nothing has changed, right? So, what I’ve decided is that I am on a mission, to create representation to change the narrative through the eyes of our children, right? Because in 20 years, I don’t want this fight again, right? We did this fight that we’re doing now, back when Rodney King happened, back when Martin Luther King was assassinated, back during slavery times. I’m like, “Man, is there a time when we’re going to change? We need to change through our children.”
So literally, the way I see it, you know, that’s how the book was born, is to be able to educate all of our– this is not just for black girls, right? So, this is for all boys and girls, this is a great message around spreading the love to teach our children that a little black princess is cool and you could want to be like her and you could want to dress up like her, just like my daughter loves Elsa and would put on the long Elsa dress, I want your daughter to be able to put on a Princess Zara dress and it’s not weird; it’s acceptable, that we could celebrate all cultures and be inclusive in the conversation and have diversity on our shelves and in our programming.
[08:28] Marly Q: Yes, yes, yes. I, as a matter of fact, would love to have my little hair like princess Zara, because I could poof up my little curls too, I used to when I was little. I was like, I would have thought princess Zara was the coolest just because that little hair would have spoken to me. I love, love, love what you’re doing, and you’ve expanded, it’s not just a book now. Yeah, talking about birthday parties, you can outfit a whole birthday.
[08:59] Coach Cass: Yes. So, the book, it’s hit Amazon number one within three days of being released, which is just amazing. And since then, I’ve had parents reach out to me like, “Okay, where is the birthday set?”, I’m like, “Huh?”, I’m trying to get this to have cartoon, like I’m focused, you know, we’re here trying to get this on a major programming station, like a PBS, you know? And they’re like, “No, where’s the birthday set?”, I’m just like, “Oh, okay, I got you.”, right? So, now we officially have the princess Zara birthday set, and some people are like, “Oh, well, you know, are people really getting together still?”, and all those things, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, your child deserves a birthday party. If that birthday party is a party of one, listen, I live in a condo and during the COVID times, the mom sent me pictures, it was her and her daughter, whole table decorated, she had a sheet cake honey, and all the things, all the bells and whistles because your child still deserves to be celebrated, right? Like, we still don’t want to overlook birthdays just because we’re not getting together so, virtual birthday party decked out with Princess Zara.
[10:09] Marly Q: Absolutely, my baby just turned two in July. And I mean, again as an event planner, or I should say, a recovering event planner, I don’t know now what I am in that respect, but I am an event creator at heart and what I’ve learned this year is, events can be a party of one, can be a party of two, life you deserve to celebrate life. Within difficult times, you can experience sadness, and joy, you can experience you know, celebrating life and grieving loss. You can, you know, the yin and the yang, they can both exist, we don’t have to stop celebrating and getting together virtually or in person just because of this health pandemic. So, this has taught me so much about really, the true meaning of events and why I’m so passionate about events is because it’s about bringing people together and that’s what your book is doing; that’s what your movement is doing. I see it as a movement and I know this is going to be a series of books, I’m sure.
[11:13] Coach Cass: Late September.
[11:15] Marly Q: Ooh, coming up soon. This is a movement, and a movement isn’t a moment, it is a movement, and it’ll continue propelling you forward and you’ll continue to get feedback from people that are reading the book, that are loving the book, that are gifting the book. I purchased one for a friend who had a baby shower recently and as you continue in the movement, you’re not only going to get the media exposure that you want and get on PBS, there’s going to be something else, and you’re going to be like, “What?”, there will be you know, maybe commissioned by Disney and I’ll be walking around Disney World one day and there’s Princess Zara with the longest line you’ve ever seen to get their autograph, right?
[11:52] Coach Cass: Girl, you better speak it.
[11:53] Marly Q: I am speaking it because I just really believe, not just in you as a person, Coach Cass, but I believe in the seeds of kindness and love that you are planting in our kids. You know, if we want to change the world, you know, when I was 10 years old, I really just wanted to change the world, I wanted the world to be a loving place, a place where kindness was just given, right? And if I can dream that at 10 years old, and be able to create a life and a business that revolves around this very simple little message of kindness, the same way that you are creating the life and the business based in love, the way to change the world is through planting seeds of love and kindness in our children.
We can teach our children to love themselves, to be kind to themselves, to love one another and to love this world. I mean, it’s just, it’s natural that that seed is going to blossom, and we can change the world and does that mean that I’m naive, and I believe in this utopian vision of, “We’re going to live in a world where you know, everybody is loving and kind all the time.”? No, I am also a realist, and I believe in the yin and the yang and I believe in the darkness and the light. But I believe in the light and magnifying the light and being the spark of that light within the darkness, way more than I focus on the darkness, despite what we’ve been experiencing and what we’ve been experiencing for generations and generations and generations, but I choose not to focus on that. And I choose to channel my energy and my service and my desire into the positive things, and that’s what I see you doing, that’s what I see your husband doing and that’s what I see your daughter doing when she grows up because she has that role model, she has that education. And that’s just so inspiring to me, I am absolutely fired up about Princess Zara and her birthday tradition and the series because it’s highlighting giving children a smart and beautiful and giving, kind princess that we could all aspire to be and dress up like and love.
[13:58] Coach Cass: Oh, you get me so excited. I think I’m going to play this podcast like 77 times over, it’s so beautiful.
[14:06] Marly Q: I hope that our PARKers listening do too, I will most certainly include a direct link to purchase the book and the birthday party gift set, as well as being able to connect with you because I know that this is launching on International Youth Day and we’re focused on kids here but for PARKers who are listening that want more love in their life, be it in relationship, more success in their love life, more success in their business, feeling more just, in love with their life, I know that you can help them too. Would you like to touch on that a little?