We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
My business, Bracketville Books, encompasses who I am as a person. My life usually revolves around three things—art, literature and basketball. Since these are major components in my life, I was able to put them all in a pot and come up with a non-profit organization that has produced a string of children’s books, community initiatives and virtual homework help programs. In just our second year of operation, we have expanded from Staten Island into Brooklyn and The Bronx. We expect to cover all five borough and New Jersey by 2023.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always been an artist since a small child. It started with my love of cartoons and comic books. As a kid, I would sketch and staple together my own comics together and give them out to my friends in school. I then I began studying Architecture at the High School of Art & Design in New York City. In college I learned photoshop and my talents took off from there. Bracketville Books is different from other publishing companies because they all come directly from my brain. I try to remain as artistically true to my vision as an artist who aims to contribute to the art world with authentic artwork and writing style that doesn’t look or sounds like anyone else’s.
I’m most proud of the process it takes to really believe in yourself enough to show the world the talent God built you with from birth. As the world weighs on you throughout life, it can become really easy to shy away from your own thoughts and just fit in with the rest of the world.
Build Bracketville Books and all of its components was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life—no bullshit. It took sleepless nights, days of anger, moments of frustration and tons of faith in God and myself to climb from one step to the other. [Note- I used the word “climb” because that’s exactly what success is. Every step up takes everything out of you just to have to do it all over again if you want to keep rising.]
A lesson I’ve learned along the way is blessings [knowledge, opportunities, gifts, kind words, etc] can come from anywhere if you’re willing to be receptive. I’ve learned more from my 12-year-old daughter about business than anyone else in my circle throughout the beginning of the building process. My business is about children, so being humble enough to learn from her, humbled me enough to learn from anyone—if you get what I mean.
I would like for the world to know that Bracketville Books is TRUE TO THE GAME. Basketball has saved my life and I owe it to the game to be true. As Bracketville continues to blossom into an awesome organization, we dedicate our time to building the best basketball programs, publishing the best books, producing the best community initiatives and giving back to our communities with our best efforts forward. We owe it to the game.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In New York City, there are always tons of things to do. Since my friends all love hoops, I’d take them to Brooklyn and show them the park in which I grew up. Then we’d take the train to Manhattan and visit the West 4th Street basketball tournament. Afterwards, we’d head uptown to 155th street to visit the legendary Rucker Park then back to Madison Square Garden for an evening Knicks game.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mother, Shawn Browne, played a major part in putting books in my hands as a young child. She saw that I had a knack for literature and she built upon my whole life by challenging me to read encyclopedias, dictionaries and books waaaaaay past my grade level. Through college and after, I’ve published [and produced] four stage-plays, two novels, two childrens books, an activity book, a documentary and a college magazine. My love of writing definitely stems from Mom-dukes so she gets all the props here.