Meet Chudney Ross, Founder of Books and Cookies, Author, and Advocate for Children's Causes
Hi! I'm Chudney Ross, mom to two sweet girls, entrepreneur, author and advocate for children's causes.
Chudney wears the Willow Mini in Limoncello
My original idea for Books and Cookies was to open a bookstore that also sold coffee and cookies, but what I learned quickly after opening the doors in Santa Monica in 2011 was that people with young children were looking for a space to build community. We created a welcome and joyful space to bring people together, make new friends, find love and support. Though I closed the doors to the physical space a while back (luckily, pre-pandemic), we have continued to build community all over LA and virtually with our interactive musical story time gathering. How lucky I am to continue to share books and songs, learning and connection in the sunshine all these years later.
Actually, Lone Bean, sadly, did not get great reviews from the big book reviewing companies, but kids seem to love it and for that, I am very proud! I am extremely honored each time I receive an email from a child or teacher who has enjoyed reading my book and related to this sweet character I created and worked so hard to bring to life. Writing, editing and actually getting it published was surprisingly hard work and though I am up for the challenge, I'm just not sure I will be able to embody the voice of an eight year old as I did with Lone Bean all those years ago. It takes a lot of focus that I just don't have the brain space to go there since becoming a mom and an entrepreneur.... but maybe one day!
Truly, right now I am mostly reading kids books! I love checking out new releases to share with my Books and Cookies community and I love connecting with my girls reading together. Bedtime reading with my toddler and having my big girl read aloud her chapter books is one of the most cherished times of my day. With Everlee, we are loving Pete The Cat and Dear Zoo. Callaway and I are both really into Wings of Fire and on my own I am keeping it light and reading books written by women that I know and admire that also make me laugh - like Dawn O'Porter and Casey Rose Wilson.
My advice for someone looking to make a difference in their community would be to choose a cause close to your heart. The most meaningful support you can give is by sharing something you are passionate about and even the tiniest act of kindness or giving back can make a huge impact.
I think there is something really special about books in that a lesson can be taught or a positive message be shared without it feeling forced. I love to choose books to share in my story times and to have at our bookshelves at home that have positive messages and diverse characters. Our children will be the change-makers of the future, because we are sharing so many more forward thinking messages with them. Literature is an amazing tool for these lessons to be shared and for conversations to begin.
Having two little ones at home can be overwhelming at times, but I do try to make time for myself. For me, self-care is finding time to move my body whether it be a walk or a workout class. I also cherish quiet moments drinking coffee in the sunshine. How lucky I am to live in LA when the sun is shining always. I also make time to have dinner and drinks with friends. Having a good laugh over a good meal is truly self care.
How lucky I was to be born into a family of strong, passionate, smart women. My mom is my biggest role model not only for her hard work, talent and positivity, but as a mom who works hard, but is always there for us when we needed her. If I can be half the mom she is to my siblings and I, I know I know I am doing a great job.
My two older sisters, Rhonda and Tracee, are so different and unique in their own ways, but both true role models of blazing your own path, owning the skin you're in, loving yourself and sharing that with the world. They are extremely smart, loving, talented and generous with the lessons they've learned.
When I was first introduced to Mestiza, I was drawn to the chic and timeless silhouettes with playful patterns that can go from pool to cocktails, sightseeing to evenings out on the town. Learning more about the brand, I love that Mestiza is owned and operated by women and thoughtfully crafted and designed.
When I was choosing a piece from Mestiza, it was also the start of summer vacation. This dress makes me feel like sunshine, playful, flirty and fun! I wanna wear it sightseeing in Paris, dancing on the beach at sunset, sipping cocktails under the stars, and dancing till way too late! I love that you can wear it different ways: dress it up with jewels and heels or dress it down with sneakers and children in tow.