We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan Burk and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordan, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In the years I spent as a caregiver to my Uncle Kelly, who had Down syndrome, there were always children who would approach curiously and ask questions about Kelly. I always loved to answer their questions, and as I looked to find what kind of resources were out there about people with Down syndrome, I realized there wasn’t much that showed what it’s like to truly love someone with Down syndrome. That really inspired me to start writing children’s books that help kids understand that even though some people may not look or act like they do, that doesn’t mean they don’t need friends, too.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a child, I was always into telling and illustrating elaborate stories. I created books for Young Author’s competitions and always placed well. It was something I could put my heart and soul into, and know that it was all mine. I still pull those out from time to time to reminisce about where my passion began. In middle school, I started getting bullied over my art, so I began to feel like I would never be good enough to make something of it. I didn’t pick up a pencil to draw again until I was 24 years old. I started out drawing caricatures of my friends and family as gifts. That creative process reignited my passion for art and storytelling. A few years later, a friend and I started working on a children’s book together. During that time I also lost my uncle Kelly, who I’d taken care of for the last 14 years. Kelly was my very best friend, and made a huge impact on my life. I felt it was my part of my calling to share Kelly’s story, while teaching others about Down syndrome. I knew I was supposed to tell these stories, but life doesn’t always go according to plan. In the years following Kelly’s passing, we lost the home I’d grown up in for the past 21 years. That eventually led to my parents, who I’ve always had an extremely close relationship with, to move across Texas, back to the town they grew up in. Just 2 short months after they moved, the morning after Thanksgiving 2018, my Dad, who was my rock and my very best friend, suddenly passed away. My world was turned upside down in a matter of hours. This came only weeks before I was to release the first book, “Kelly and The Great Pinewood Derby.” The release of that book was very bittersweet, because my dad was my biggest cheerleader, and I wanted to be able to show him what I had accomplished. I am forever grateful for all of my friends who basically got my business up and running while I grieved the loss of my father. If not for their constant encouragement and support I don’t think I’d be gearing up for the release of the 3rd book in the series.
The things that kept me focused during some of the hardest years of my life are what I’m most proud of. I was able to use those tough moments in life as inspiration to bring to life characters that have overcome adversities no matter how big or small. Like Kelly, a boy with Down syndrome, helping to build his first derby car, or learning to make new friends when grieving a lost one. Or in my newest book, coming soon, a new character, Tilly, a beautiful girl with vitiligo, learns to love the skin she’s in, while overcoming her fear of playing her trumpet in public. Hearing and seeing stories of kids light up because they have never seen someone like them come to life on a story book page, makes my heart happy. At one of our very first book readings I received fan art from a little boy with Autism. He had painted an incredible picture of Prof. Kelso. Its stories and encounters like these that keep me going when things get tough.
I hope by sharing these characters with the world that people will realize that friends come in all shapes, sizes and sometimes even have an extra chromosome.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A perfect spring week spent with a close friend in the greatest State in all of North America would look a little like this:
Spending a day at the new Globe Life Park watching our beloved Texas Rangers play some baseball. A trip to Six Flags to ride all of our favorite super hero rides like, Batman, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze and The Joker. Of course, we’d have to visit Dallas’ very own Bread Winners Cafe for some amazing home style cookin’. A late night taco run to Fuel City Tacos is an absolute must. Of course we can’t forget to catch some incredible Texas Country at Bill Bob’s in the Fort Worth Stock Yards.
To end the week, a tour of all the best spots in Deep Ellum for foodies like us, including Serious Pizza, Uncle Uber’s Sandwhich Shop and some delicious dessert at Glazed Donut Works. After we’re done stuffing our faces, we’ll snap some selfies in front of all the amazing artwork that covers the walls of the shops in Deep Ellum to be sure we remember the good times we shared.
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?
I’d love to thank my Mom for instilling in me a heart for those who might look a little different and need a little extra help. She was a special education teacher for 30 years, and to this day she continues to pour out her heart, without measure, to everyone she meets.
Other: Kelly and The Great Pinewood Derby: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1724639129/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_2005MB1FXF007Z5GHS1F Kelly and The Space Cadets https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084Q9WKJ9/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_CW7NGEYA7KEVEZK8BAVA iTunes: Be-I-By Song and I’ll Be There For You