When Nandy del Castillo became pregnant with her daughter Anna in 2019, she made the decision to leave her tech career of 15 years.
The Brooklynite knew she wanted full control of her time but needed help figuring out how to make that happen with her new infant.
A friend encouraged Castillo to sell her portrait art through Etsy, an online shopping platform, and to start sharing her art on her Instagram. Up until that point, Castillo's artwork had just been a hobby. But one morning, after sharing her art online, she woke up with more than 300 orders in her inbox.
Since then, selling her artwork has become her full-time business.
Now, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society, a local early childhood education program, she’s teaching other parents how to pivot and become entrepreneurs with the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society’s Entrepreneurial Series.
“I want [parents] to see themselves in me," Castillo said. "I want there to be a light switch that says, 'There's no disconnect between you or Bill Gates.'"
The series, co-founded by Castillo and Brooklyn Kindergarten Society’s Executive Director Melisha Jackman, hosts free workshops for parents looking to turn their skills into a business every month in the Starbucks conference room at 774 Broadway on the border of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy.
The program officially began in September 2023.
“I want parents to feel that Brooklyn Kindergarten Society is not only nurturing their child's academic and social-emotional needs, but also that parents have a home community,” said Jackman. “BKS is thinking about the entire family experience.”
Each seminar of the series is discussion-style and open to the public for parents to learn hands-on skills to make an extra income. Parents can submit any business-related questions before they come into each seminar or ask during the session.
Topics have ranged from posting content on social media to creating an e-commerce store through platforms like Shopify and Etsy. Castillo also helps parents identify what they’re skilled in and how they can turn a passion project into a scalable business online.
Castillo attributes the success of her business to the support she gained from her child’s school during her career transition more than three years ago. Without the help of her BKS community, she wouldn’t be able to learn these skills and pass them on to other parents, she said.
As the program continues to grow, Castillo and Jackman hope to welcome more parents into their program. They also hope to move into a permanent space of their own and host virtual sessions for parents who are unable to make it in person.
“I want [parents] to feel motivated to get started, because that's the only difference between dreaming and achieving: It's just doing,” Castillo said.
For more information on the program and the next seminar, visit the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society’s Facebook page.