In Conversation with Diana Mucci of Back of the Yards Entertainment and Publishing

Diana Mucci_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

Back of the Yards Entertainment and Publishing is an independent theatre, film and book publishing company in support of diverse independent artists.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

When COVID forced us to close down our Italian boutique and changed the world as we know it, I asked myself how am I going to be relevant? How can I make a difference, when so many people are struggling? And I remembered The Snugawinks of Cuddleton Falls, the naptime series I had written years ago and had tucked away in a folder on my MAC. I figured it was time to dust off the books and publish them myself, so I can share some peace & comfort with children and families in the midst of an extremely stressful time. In the area of entertainment and publishing, the process of getting an artist’s work out there can literally take a lifetime, so I established Back of the Yards Entertainment and Publishing to make it happen now.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I’ve worked in the corporate technology sector as a sales executive for over 20 years and throughout my professional career have launched small businesses, from an independent consulting firm, to an Italian luxury fashion boutique. The one passion that has remained a constant over the last 30 years is writing and entertainment.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes, I want to be in charge of my own destiny – to work hard, to see the fruit of my labor and to realize the positive impact I can make within my own personal circle, my community and the world at large.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

My marketing strategy was to launch a Social Media and PR campaign with a focus on Instagram and Facebook. I soon realized I didn’t have the expertise, skillset or time to do it all alone. So, I reached out to my personal network and to the @HeyMamaco community and was lucky to find an amazing team to help me develop my marketing strategy. I’m humbled by how brilliantly talented they are and am so grateful for their support!

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

The greatest mistake I’ve made is to think I could do everything on my own. I stretched myself too thin and didn’t have the time to accomplish everything that was required to handle the day to day operations, the finances and the marketing. I learned to let go and understand I am only human. Leveraging other people’s talents, experience and can take your business to a whole new level, while giving you time to do what you do best.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

My greatest accomplishment to date is raising my four children and seeing them each grow into the kind, thoughtful humans they are today, leaving their own unique mark on this world. They are the inspiration behind my children’s naptime series, “The Snugawinks of Cuddleton Falls” about four siblings who live in a magical place of pillows, blankets and toys, and who take off in a lollipop truck for adventures in Dreamland!

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

I usually ask candidates to tell me about themselves, and I don’t mean just about their work-related experience. I want to understand their story first – what brought them to where they are today and why they do what they do. I think it’s important to connect first and get a good sense of their character. Most of the time, experience is secondary to me. It’s about their mindset and willingness to learn, to know if they’ll take the initiative to try new things, to help solve problems. My advice would be to follow your intuition and don’t make decisions based solely on years of experience. Heart matters.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Although COVID-19 has impacted a great number of small businesses in a detrimental way, I believe we as humans are resilient and are doing our best to be creative in pivoting to new ways of reaching our customers.  Book sales are up since last year, and authors are doing their book tours online and reaching massive audiences. Regional and community theaters have closed their doors, but many are now hosting virtual readings and plays to keep performance art alive. We can’t give up on art, we need it more than ever now.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

I’m finishing my memoir, “Growing up with Big Hair”, a collection of short stories about an Afro-Latina moving to an all-White neighborhood. The stories are based on my real-life experiences dealing with systemic racism, told with a bit of comic relief. I’ll be working on publishing the memoir and finding other BIPOC writers and producers to collaborate on adapting those stories for the stage and film. I’m also looking for another city for “Come ‘n Go”, a romantic dramedy about two sisters trying to navigate their disastrous love lives. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

The biggest, most humbling lesson I’ve learned is that we really don’t have as much control over our lives as we thought we did. There is a force much greater than us that has altered the direction of our lives forever and learning to adapt to this change will be critical to our survival mentally, physically and emotionally.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

I am not an island. Community outreach is critical to our well-being and success.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I stay grounded by reminding myself what matters most – Love, health. family. friends and connection.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Oh my yes! Go for a walk or bike ride and enjoy the fresh air. Try to take a lunch break – these days it seems to be getting harder to do! Be sure to carve out time for dinner with your family or close friends, following COVID guidelines of course. Get out of the house on your days off to just go for a drive or to visit a place where you haven’t been. Learn a new hobby or language.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I now have 7 children!  Four of my own and three that I inherited from my husband.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Start off the day with a short meditation, intention or prayer.
  • Drink coffee or tea or a protein shake for energy.
  • Take Breaks to recharge throughout the day -great advice from my life coach daughter, @antoinettebeauchamp_

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being a part of the Entreprenista community means joining the ranks of like-minded women entrepreneurs who understand the joys and challenges of growing a successful business, while juggling womanhood, motherhood, sisterhood, wifehood and any other hood you can think of. I sincerely appreciate Entreprenista’s support of the BIPOC artist community. Please read our books, participate in virtual theatrical events and watch our films! Thank you so much for support and for the opportunity to share my story!

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Ansley Pridgen of Ansley Media Co. on helping small businesses grow

Describe your business in a few words: After attending SMU and receiving an Undergraduate Degree in Accounting, I moved to New York City to begin a career in fashion. While in NYC, I learned about fashion production, design, life, and hard work. However, I couldn’t suppress my deep love and connection to the South. After…

Clinical Therapist Kendra Toothill on how to unlock your well-being transformation

Describe your business in a few words: Hey! I’m Kendra Toothill. I help women unlock their well-being transformation by using their physical scars. I have been a clinical therapist for nearly a decade, and I help women heal from their physical and emotional health challenges by using my groundbreaking system: Scars Reigniting Your Feminine. Did…

Michelle Carter-Love of sHe Eco Investments promotes a healthier and more sustainable home purchasing option

Describe your business in a few words: What motivates me to have chosen a field dominated by men to pursue is to take part in lowering gas emissions and decreasing waste that has led to the acceleration of our climate crises in the construction industry. By profession, I am a financial coach for over 7…

Ariela Gorodzinsky of ZIBARI on founding a premium purveyor of authentic culinary foods from around the world

Describe your business in a few words: I grew up in Mexico City. Four years ago, I moved to New York to study for my masters in Food Studies at NYU.  Two years ago, I moved to Miami and founded ZIBARI. A premium purveyor of authentic culinary foods from around the world, offering a diverse…

Vanessa Ungvarsky of Taylor Made on creating her unique custom nail polish kits

Describe your business in a few words: Taylor Made Polish brings elevated experiences to savvy clean beauty enthusiasts with our patent-pending Custom Nail Polish kits and 15 Minute Organic Manicure sets.   Anchored in historic downtown Easton, Taylor Made sits at the intersection of scrappy and stylish. We are deeply connected to our community and if…

Kristen and Lindsey Archer of ARCHd on empowering women through handmade home decor

Describe your business in a few words: Sisters Kristen and Lindsey Archer create handmade home decor with their original female empowerment illustrations, skyline designs, and landscape photography. From “build your own” wood bookend sets to large wall art, each piece features bold colors and is uniquely made. ARCHd gives back a percentage of each online…

Felena Hanson of Hera Hub on collaborating with like-minded business owners

Describe your business in a few words: Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven.  Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provide a productive environment for growing businesses.  Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to…

Joy Williams & Jane Molina of Ninni Co. on being moms’ “breast” friend

Describe your business in a few words: We are Joy Williams + Jane Molina. Sisters, best friends, and co-serial entrepreneurs. We launched the Ninni Co. brand on March 1, 2021, and sell direct-to-consumer from our website. Our featured product and what we’re known for is our breastlike pacifier. It’s a technology we patented and worked…

Business Coach Mary Massey on gaining clarity and achieving success

Describe your business in a few words: My journey to becoming a life coach began over 13 years ago when I became depressed after my father’s passing. Having lost my mom at a young age, I learned to grow up fast but never had the tools I needed to help me overcome loss and other…

Candace Noel of Flora Noel on setting the tone of any event with florals that convey desired moods

Describe your business in a few words: Hi! I’m Candace Noel, Founder and Owner of Flora Noel, a floral and event design studio based in Houston, Texas that specializes in personalizing experiences for special events and private spaces. We design floral arrangements that convey the desired mood of each event through color, shape, texture, and…

Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli of Same Team Childcare on streamlining the nanny-parent relationship

Describe your business in a few words: I am Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli of Same Team Childcare, a mom, nurse, and researcher.  Through using my academic lens and personal experiences in working with nannies, I have streamlined the nanny-parent search, hire, and onboarding process by creating a time-efficient online course both parents and nannies take together. …

Dental Entrepreneur Melissa Turner on making dentistry a better experience for patients and providers

Describe Your Business in a few words: I am Melissa Turner, a dental entrepreneur. I am a dental hygienist who has launched several businesses. I am an influencer and speaker to make dentistry a better experience for dental patients and dental providers. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I’ve been in dentistry…

Product Management Consultant Christina Kelley Weiss on empowering business development

Describe Your business in a few words: I’m a product management consultant & interim product executive for startups with ten years of experience in product management, software development, and digital health. I work with early- and mid-stage startups to help them grow & optimize their strategy, product team, and development processes. What was your background…

Kaitlin Nares of Hagen | Nares PLLC on helping families affected by serious injuries get relief

Describe your business in a few words: I am a Coloradoan. I am a mother to a beautiful and funny 6-month-old redheaded son named Brody. I am also a dog mom to two rescue pups named Boston and Bella. I am married to an entrepreneur, and he encouraged me to launch my law firm. Hagen |…

Michelle Dear of Tandem on empowering couples’ financial lives together

Describe your business in a few words: Hi Entreprenistas! I’m Michelle, the Co-Founder of Tandem, the easiest way for couples to share expenses. Tandem is an iOS app that eliminates the back-and-forth of Venmo without the need to get a joint account. Our mission is to empower couples’ financial lives together. What was your background prior…