I’m excited to introduce my guest this week – entrepreneur, publisher and business coach Judy Piatkus! Judy founded Piatkus Books in 1979 and in April 2021 she released her first full-length book & memoir “Ahead Of Her Time: How A One-Woman Start Up Became A Global Publishing Brand”. Without further ado, let’s say Hi to Judy …
Hello! My name is Judy Piatkus and I am an entrepreneur and former publisher, wife and mother.
What made you decide to write your memoir ahead of Her Time: How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand?
Throughout my working life, women have asked me how I grew my company alongside bringing up my family as a single mother. I wanted to share my story now to help women who want or need to start up on their own.
You founded Piatkus Books in 1979 from your spare bedroom. What inspired you to start your own business?
I had a dream of starting my own business and being my own boss and I built my first business with a partner. When that business relationship didn’t work out, I started again on my own.
Were there any aspects of writing your memoir that surprised you either by being harder or easier to relate than you expected?
The book tells the story in a linear way. However, I wrote the chapters that I found easiest first and then put the whole story together.
As well as being a keynote speaker, you are also a coach/mentor to business startups. What main parts of your management style and experience from owning Piatkus Books do you try to impart to other budding entrepreneurs?
I believe that every one of us wants to have the opportunity to do good work. The onus is upon the leader of an organisation to create a culture in the workplace that empowers and inspires people to give of their best. This requires the leaders and the managers to understand themselves well and to treat their workforce with respect and in the way they themselves would like to be treated.
Have you always wanted to have a career in the book/ publishing industry or did you have other aspirations?
From a young age I was an avid reader and I could think of nothing better than working with books all day long. I always felt very lucky that I was able to work in publishing and read and publish novels that people enjoyed and non-fiction that opened their minds to new ways of thinking about their lives.
Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors. Kindle or actual book?
After I sold the company I thought I would read more than I do. Like so many of us, I get distracted by reading articles on the internet. However, I always read a lot on holiday. The topics I still enjoy most are the genres we published – popular fiction especially crime novels and books about relationships – and interesting new books about personal growth and spiritual development. I always prefer to read a printed book and avoid another screen but kindle has its uses.
Is Ahead of Her Time: How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand available to purchase worldwide?
Watkins, my publishers, have sold copies of the book all over the world. You can buy the printed book, download it onto your kindle or buy the audio version and listen to it.
What do you enjoy most about speaking to audiences?
Speaking is an opportunity to inspire people to follow their dreams. I like to find out about the audience before I speak so I can target my talk to what I think will be of interest. Publishing is a very complex industry but it’s one that everyone can understand. I am usually asked many questions about becoming an entrepreneur or how to get a book published and that keeps me on my toes.
Personal now – what outfit and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I like to look smart but I am a lazy dresser. Throughout my publishing career I got up every morning and put on a black top and black trousers and I had a variety of different jackets to go over the black top. That way I didn’t have to spend too much time thinking about what to wear. My favourite designers are Armani and Max Mara but I could only afford 5 outfits – one for each day of the week – and when one wore out, I replaced it. I usually wore comfortable but smart Russell and Bromley boots so I didn’t have to think about footwear either.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Large department stores such as Selfridges, Harrods or Harvey Nicholls always excite me. I also like individual carefully-curated small boutiques especially in towns outside of London.Its been such a tough time for the retail industry and I do hope that many of these shops are able to survive. Now I don’t have to go to an office every day I buy a lot of clothes in Gerard Darel as I like the variety and the cut. I much prefer trying before buying so that I can choose clothes that fit well.
Aside from clothes stores, I am unable to walk past a bookshop without popping in. I try and buy as many books as I can in bookshops because if we don’t support them, we won’t have the luxury of browsing and discovering unexpected treasures.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?
I want to have exciting places to go to where I can wear some of the clothes in my wardrobe that haven’t had much of an outing in the last eighteen months. Yesterday I was walking down the street and a very elegant woman came out of a block of flats nearby. She looked amazing and it reminded me how we have all got used to dressing-down. I want to dress up again.
Boots or shoes? (& Why?).
I have always been a boot person. I want life to be easy and I have always found it more comfortable to walk around town in boots rather than shoes. Wearing my favourite pair of boots with heels, I always feel I can conquer the world!
Links you would like to share.
Fabulous to “meet” you Judy and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. I am so with you on the dressing down issue … I can’t wait to start dressing up again and visiting exciting places! 😊
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Judy Piatkus.