The Dreamwork Collective, founded by Kira Jean, grants young authors from the region the opportunity to showcase their works on the global stage
Some of the greatest breakthrough moments of life come from pain and loss. It becomes our point of reference for the things we want to achieve and pursue, to honour the ones we love and cherish. “My closest childhood friend passed away before the age of 30 and her last message to me was how she regretted not pursuing her personal ambitions and chasing her dreams,” shares Kira Jean as we sit down for a cup of coffee. Although Jean’s friend enjoyed a flourishing career as a successful copywriter with notable brands and companies, she did not have a chance to tell the stories that she held close to her heart. “The message she sent lit a fire in me, and I did not want to ever face the same regret myself. So, I took a year away from my work to find my passions, write and self-publish my book that recounted my travel experiences and the lessons I had learned,” says the certified yoga instructor, therapist and success coach.
With no background in publishing, Jean set out on a path of self-discovery, leaving behind her full-time job as a child and family therapist where she worked with autistic children. Keen on discovering how she could further support children and pursue her dreams, she sought out alternative therapies such as yoga and meditation and travelled the world as a yoga teacher, eventually reaching Dubai where she decided to begin her personal publishing journey as a first-time author. “Ten years ago, there were so many approvals and hoops to jump through, but because of the tragedy I just kept going and got it done. Eventually, people started asking questions, and that’s how it all started. I realised, rather than just sharing the knowledge and telling them how to do it, they also wanted someone to do it for them,” she explains. As she began finding designers, editors, marketers and creatives to help other writers, Jean’s vision became clear. She wanted to create a‘no-excuses’ business model for writers to assist them no matter their age or background, offering traditional and hybrid publishing options including distribution, sales, marketing, mentoring and coaching. And that is how she established The Dreamwork Collective for ‘the world’s conscious creators’ — a place where every person can find a way to share their stories with the world.
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“Every two years we award a young writer with a publishing award and it’s a full grant where all costs are covered by TDC and they get the whole experience of becoming a published author — so they get edited, a cover and book design, printing and distribution and we get their name out there. The value of this grant is between Dhs30-50 thousand,” she adds, emphasising how she desires to support youth in pursuing their creative talent, knowing full well that it takes a business mindset to further grow creative writing into a full-time career option.
As a success coach and mentor, Jean’s mission has always been to help creative leaders and founders find the balance between following their passions and growing it into a successful and profitable business. Jean’s creative ambitions and educational background in psychology with her work experience as a therapist all came together in her ability to mentor and coach people, whether young or old. “When I moved here, it was important for me to find my place and feel at home, and a big part of that equation was also finding my tribe. Working with people who were creative and wanted to make a difference was important to me,” she shares. And that’s how she sees herself in the role of a publisher, always seeking out new talents and mentoring them with trainings, workshops, author meet-ups, coaching classes and more. “I want to support young people in keeping their creative spark alive and by making sure that they see ways to pursue a creative career that is sustainable and financially secure for them,” says Jean, and to that end she has created several pathways for young budding authors. Apart from the publishing award, the TDC offers a six-week fiction writing workshop, and paid internships for students. This year, they are also the first publishing house from the UAE that will be participating in the Venice International Film Festival where Jean intends to meet producers and filmmakers who are interested in taking books to the big screen.
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The future looks bright and promising for those who dare to dream, and Jean leads the way with a few ambitious plans. “For the next five years, we are looking at ways in which stories can be translated across different mediums, especially because we know that not everybody reads and some prefer Netflix, so having our books adapted for film or television in some capacity is important. As for the next 10 years, the goal is to support the industry where people can pursue becoming a novelist or an author as a viable and successful career, rather than a something on the side of their main careers,” she says.
A Day In The Life Of Kira Jean
I start my day…at around 6am with my dog scratching at the side of my bed to wake me up for his breakfast.
In 24 hours, I never forget…to be grateful for what I have.
My style staples include…long patterned dresses and a few of my favourite jewellery pieces.
My basic skincare routine…is simple and gentle. I wash my face and follow with toner, serum and moisturizer. At night I cleanse, followed by a light serum. I like to let my skin breathe at night. Twice a week I exfoliate and do a face mask treatment.
To follow a healthy balanced diet…I eat home cooked meals and rarely eat takeout or at restaurants.
I find myself most creative and productive…when I am in a brand new environment.
What I love most about my job is…bringing people’s dreams to life.
If I wasn’t in my current position…I would be a florist.
After 6pm I take time to…have dinner with my family, read a few pages of a novel and catch up on the day with my husband.
Just before bedtime…I always switch my phone to airplane mode.
Three things I can’t live without are…books, adventure and optimism.
Words by Odelia Mathews | Styled by Jade Chilton | Photographed by Ausra Osi