Entrepreneur Spotlight – Erica Morgan
All shark species constantly shed and replace teeth, with some losing tens of thousands in their lifetime. So what happens when the ever-busy shark tooth fairy needs a day off and the human tooth fairy has to step in?
Erica Szymanski asked herself this question at age eleven and wrote a story to answer it. In 2019, the tale of how Mrs. Pearly White takes on Mrs. Chompers’ job for a day was finally published in the form of a children’s book named “A Shark Tooth Fairy Tale”. In the meantime, Maryland-based, 19 year old Erica had already become a beloved local artist with plenty of achievements under her belt.
To celebrate the release of “A Shark Tooth Fairy Tale” and give back to the community, FantaSEA Aquariums, LLC has teamed up with Erica Morgan Books to provide a copy to clients. Read more about the project and this inspiring young artist!
Erica notes that she was always extremely creative growing up but 2015 marks the year that she officially started her business, Erica Morgan Designs. A sticker design of hers became a hit in nearby Bethany Beach, Delaware. After that, she continued creating designs using her tools of trade, watercolor and acrylic paints, to convey her recognizable light and airy style. Inspiration is not hard to find in and around her home state of Maryland, with the sheer abundance of beautiful beach towns that litter the East Coast and their fascinating history.
Nowadays, locals from places like Charleston, Virginia Beach, Delaware and more can show their pride through Erica’s original designs on decals, magnets and t-shirts that are sold by retailers and in her online store.
A Shark Tooth Fairy Tale
In addition to creating original designs, Erica also recently took her childhood love for writing to the next level. She revisited one of her old stories, which was inspired by childhood trips to collect shark teeth on the beach. After sketching a storyboard for the story of the shark tooth fairy, she became not just a business owner but also a published author before reaching the age of 20.
Teaming up with Chiara Civati to digitize her watercolor illustrations resulted in A Shark Tooth Fairy Tale. With its 24 pages of colored illustrations and rhyming story, this is an under-the-sea fairytale that you’ll love to read to your kids. Sounds like something your child or another little one in your life will love? Take a peek at Erica Morgan Books and get your copy.
Psst! If you loved A Shark Tooth Fairy Tale, you might want to keep an eye on Erica’s website to learn more about her upcoming project. Although the next book that will bear her name was written by another local author, she’ll be illustrating it.
Because giving back to the communities and places she draws inspiration from is important to Erica, she has run charity sales on specially designed stickers multiple times now.
After the flooding of Ellicott City as well as the Virginia Beach and Annapolis shootings, she couldn’t just sit by and watch. Instead, she designed decals to represent these places and donated most of the proceeds from the sales to help benefit victims and their families. Additionally, all proceeds from the not yet released upcoming book about the joys of adopting a pet will go to the Maryland Animal Sanctuary and Rescue. Can you tell that Erica lives by her motto “Local Love”?
Being another Maryland local young business owner, Dalton Leonard of FantaSEA Aquariums met Erica through the Ratcliffe Scholarship Program at Anne Arundel Community College. Here, he was inspired by Erica’s story, the way her businesses have flourished at her age and how she aims to give back to the community just like he does.
As such, Dalton has decided to put A Shark Tooth Fairy Tale in the spotlight and spread a bit of that all-important “local love” at the same time: clients who come to FantaSEA to have their aquariums set up, like schools, now receive copies of the children’s book to enjoy alongside their brand new fish tank.
Lastly… a word to young aspiring business owners
This article highlighting Dalton and Erica’s book sharing project came to be through the efforts of three young entrepreneurs: Dalton and Erica themselves as well as me, the author of this piece. Being a business owner is never a simple task, especially if you’re in your teens or early twenties. Here’s what Erica had to say about it when I asked her what she’d tell fellow (high school) students looking to get started:
“I would tell teens looking to start their own business to get started today. Taking the first step in pursuing your goal is vital, and that can be something as simple as enrolling in a business class or starting a portfolio of your work. Most people have this notion that they have to be an expert in an industry to start working in it, while I believe the opposite.
We all start out as beginners, so find a job or internship in the field you are interested in, and learn from the experts. I knew little about graphic design when I started selling my decals, but I have since found various mentors in the community that guided my on my business journey, and I am self-taught (thank you, Google) in the graphic design programs Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.”
Additionally, Erica highlights the importance of being around other young entrepreneurs and creating a supportive, like-minded environment. She also notes that mistakes are inevitable, but the important factor is to learn from any setbacks. Don’t forget to do market research if you’re looking to sell a product and honestly, just don’t be afraid to fall on your face early on (“failing forward and fast”) to prevent it happening in a later stage!