At some point in life we all come up with ideas. Often times we sit on these ideas for years or forever, and never allow the world to experience a piece of you that had been realized. Not Ylleya Fields though. This petite sized beauty moved on an idea that is now a series of tangible books that directly relates to little girls globally.
I wasn’t surprised at her beauty, as I had seen pictures of her prior to our interview. But I was, however, shocked by how great she looked and how in shape she is after having 4 children. Ylleya is a stunning young lady, author, and creator of Princess Cupcake Jones. A young girl patterned after Ylleya’s own baby girl. The series of books follows Cupcake Jones on different experiences as she learns lessons and values along the way.
Ylleya and I had an opportunity to sit down and discuss her book with www.ItsRobinAyers.com
IRA: Were you born in Cleveland Ohio?
Ylleya: No I was born in South America.
IRA: Oh, wow!
Ylleya: It’s just so weird that I ended up in Cleveland but we came to DC first and then after my mom met my stepdad he had a choice of going to New York City to work or come to DC and he chose Cleveland because he figured it was a better place to raise a child at that time. Well they still only had me but at that time they were thinking they were going to have more kids, but that didn’t work out.
Ylleya: Thank God, [laughing] And I say thank God only because we have the best relationship and I don’t like to share them.
IRA: Yeah I hear that.
Ylleya: I’m very, very territorial over both of them.
IRA: Aw, that’s nice
Ylleya: Also its been great for me growing up as an only child. Not so much when I was little but you know, the perks and benefits when becoming an adult are beyond anything you can imagine.
IRA: Okay. So how long has it been now?
Ylleya: Ooh, forever. I’m 37; I probably got out there when I was 9.
IRA: Your genes are off the chain!
Ylleya: Oh, thank you!
IRA: You are extremely beautiful but you look really young.
Ylleya: My mom’s genes.
IRA: Oh are they? Do you have a picture?
Ylleya: I do. Hold on [pulling up a picture of her mom] Mom looks really young. She’s 61 about to be 62.
IRA: Really? Is she fabulous where you guys look like sisters?
Ylleya: Well sometimes people think we look like sisters. I look like my dad, but I get all my cuteness from my mom.
Ylleya: I’m talking about my real father. Now my step dad, he’s fly.
IRA: Really? Very cool. So they’re also in Cleveland?
Ylleya: Yeah they are. Actually I live down the street from them.
IRA: Oh nice! And they get to see your kids a lot.
IRA: So let’s talk about Princess Cupcake Jones. I went on to your website and first of all I have to compliment you because I don’t know what illustrator you use and where all of your ideas came from but Princess Cupcake Jones is off the chain and she’s unlike any other African American character that I’ve seen.
Ylleya: Yes, African American characters are growing.
IRA: As soon as I went to the website, I looked and fell in love with Cupcake Jones because that’s how I dress my girls. They dress in cute little tutus and sneakers too. So how did you come up with the idea of her?
Ylleya: Well I have 3 daughters. The oldest is about to be 11, the next one is 8 and the next is 1. When my eldest was 2 we would read a lot of books. You know we love Pinkalicious, we love Fancy Nancy, and those are staples in my house. She grew up loving those. Then I thought, “Where are the books like Fancy Nancy but with a black character?” I felt like she needed to identify with a character in the book. We love Pinkalicious, but where is the kid that looks like her so that when she reads she can be say ‘okay I can be this’. Not that she can’t be Fancy Nancy, of course she can, but I wanted her to be able to see herself.
Ylleya: You’re not seeing yourself with Fancy Nancy, you know. You can relate, you like fancy things but she couldn’t “be” Fancy Nancy the way that I felt like she could be Cupcake Jones.
Ylleya: So that was the start. I wrote a poem or two. I’m not a writer by profession. It was something I’ve done in High School and I’ve gotten good grades but it wasn’t something I grew up saying, “This is what I want to do”. So I wrote some poems and I sat on them forever. And then maybe when she was six, I met my boyfriend and I told him about the idea. He said “That’s great, let me see the poems”. I showed him the poems and he was like “these suck”.
Ylleya: He said “I feel like you can do better”. Mind you these poems were about four years old. So it was a while. But his honesty helped because I said “well I don’t know what I’m going to write then.” He said “Why don’t you write a story about your daughters playing in your shoes?” At that time that’s all they did. I had a 6 year old; I had a 3 year old. That’s all they wanted to do was try on mommy’s shoes. So next thing I know I’m writing this whole book about a child playing in my shoes. The name was easy. My kids’ last name is Jones and my baby, we call her “Cupcake” because when she was a baby she was really squishy, and yellow..
IRA: Awww how cute
Ylleya: And she wore pink. I was like “oh she’s like a little pink frosted cupcake”. That’s how we called her that. So that name Cupcake Jones was easy. Then we decided to make her a princess. There are not a lot of black princesses. There’s princess Tiana, which I love but it’s just not that many. So I thought “I could make her a regular girl but let’s make her a princess because there’s so many girls that want to be princesses”. I didn’t want to make her an old school princess because that’s not me. I needed something modern. Something like Princess Kate, you know how she’s a princess but she’s modern. She wears jeans, and it’s not like old school princess. Then as I was writing that book and I looked at my daughter and she wore a tutu everyday.
IRA: So cute, so she was very princess-like even around the house?
Ylleya: Yes, both of my daughters. They loved high tops and pink and green was the color of the room so I thought “we can work with this”. So the next thing I know, as I was writing the first book which is actually about to come out. Princess Cupcake Jones in the Queen’s closet.
IRA: Oh so that was the original book?
Ylleya: Yes, the reason it’s taking so long is because you kind of change courses a little bit. When I first started writing I didn’t have a rhythm but now I have one. So that one took a while because I had to get it to be as good to me as these other two books and flow as well as the first two.
So as I was writing that, my daughter said something about her tutu and I thought, “Well what if that tutu was missing” because that’s her favorite thing. So that’s how the first book came about. So drawing from experiences and the fact that my middle daughter is so messy and hates to clean up. She literally leaves a pile of something in every room so you know where she’s been; I was like okay I can write something about this.
IRA: What other experiences do you draw from that give you inspiration?
Ylleya: Well I’ve written 5 books. My other book is called Cupcake Jones and the dance recital. And the reason is that my daughters are in dance competitions.
IRA: I notice that with your first book you have a lesson behind it with learning how to clean up because she’s missing her tutu. You also have lesson with Won’t Go To School. So is that your theme?
Ylleya: Yes that’s part of my theme, my rhythm. I remembered when Ice Cube wrote his “Friday” movies, he said he had a certain pattern. He had an opening, the introduction of a problem and then the solving of a problem. So when I wrote my books I wanted it to go the same way. I really wanted all the books to have a lesson. I felt like if you’re spending your money and reading these books to your kids, which is geared for 3 to 8 years old, I wanted to give a lesson behind it. So like I said, my middle daughter hates cleaning up so the book about cleaning up, it’s right up her alley.
IRA: Yeah it’s perfect.
Ylleya: Why we need to put things back, because you never know where anything is so when you want to play with it again, you’ll be able to find it.
IRA: Absolutely, which is a great lesson to learn. If that could teach little girls all over the world, hey, that puts us moms in a good place. I know it’ll help me out!
Ylleya: Exactly! And it’s universal! Yes she’s African American, and yes it’s important for me because I’m African American but this book is not just for African American little girls. It’s universal. Any girl can relate to her, but why is it important to ours? Because they can see themselves and they need that.
IRA: So you’ve written the five books that will come out? Now is Princess Cupcake Jones sort of like Pinkalicious? Will she continue to be a series?
Ylleya: Yes, as long as I come up with ideas. The fourth book is the dance recital and I didn’t plan to write that. But just like this book, one day I was sitting there and it just started coming to me, and it was based on some things my daughters had gone through at their dance school.
IRA: So what’s the goal for you? Do you want to get her brand all across America?
Ylleya: The sky is the limit. We have the clothing line, which is rompers and t-shirts; we have book bags and lunch boxes. I feel like it’s a necessity and I’m putting it out because I feel like it needs to be done.
IRA: I love what you’re doing!
Ylleya: Thank you
IRA: I also have to commend you on how well you put this book out. The quality is awesome.
Ylleya: Thank you. I knew exactly what I wanted. With books like Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious I knew I couldn’t just put anything out there. I knew I wanted hard cover. Finding Michael Laduca has been a Godsend because he took visions and really brought them to life. I told him I wanted a great looking website where people could go on and download free stuff. That’s important! Sometimes people spend all of their money just to buy the book or the product but how nice would it be to offer people other things that their children would love and not have to pay for it surrounding the character. So there are games, coloring books and things like that on the site that people can download.
IRA: Well Ylleya, I can’t wait for the world to read your books and get to know Princess Cupcake Jones. Thank you so much for your time!
To read more about Ylleya Fields and purchase Princess Cupcake Jones books and merchandise, please visit her website at www.PrincessCupcakeJones.com. Also be sure to check out her personal blog at www.AbelleLife.com.