Interview with Kathryn Vercillo of MoKa House Writers

Sunday, December 03, 2006

MoKa House is a media company that provides freelance writing services to both individuals and businesses. We make use of the diverse talents of our pool of freelance writers and our own skills as writer-editors to craft the perfect message for furthering the creative and professional endeavors of others.

WOW: Kathryn, how did you start MoKa House Writers?

(Photo of MoKa House partner: Kathryn Vercillo)

KV: MoKa House was one of those things that happened slowly and then suddenly. As a freelance writer, I had always thought that collaborating with other writers would be an excellent way to provide better services to my clients, but I wasn’t quite sure how to make that happen. Then I met Moniqua. In our first ever conversation, we tossed around our individual ideas for eventually starting a writing company. We’re both highly driven women who do more than we talk about doing, so the next thing we knew we were running a company together.

WOW: That's funny you should say that, because it sounds quite familiar! (Like a WOW! story) Can you tell us about the kinds of services that MoKa House provides?

KV: We provide freelance writing services of all kinds to both individuals and businesses. This includes professional, creative and academic writing and editing services. Specifically, our services include writing of newsletters, articles, web content, business plans, artist bios, reviews, e-books, and business profiles.

WOW: That's quite impressive. You seem to cover the full spectrum of freelance writing. What makes your company unique?

(Photo of MoKa House partner: Moniqua Lane)

KV: The two of us have very different writing backgrounds, so we are able to apply our experiences in order to oversee a wide range of different projects. Additionally, we employ a staff of approximately forty writers who all have different types of experience. This means that we have the ability to select a writer with appropriate experience for each project, providing our clients with a professional writer who has knowledge in their field. For the client, this is different from working with an individual freelance writer who may have general writing skills but may lack the specific knowledge required to best complete the requested work. Additionally, working with a company (as opposed to working with an individual) offers the client a stronger guarantee of professional quality.

WOW: That's wonderful that you're employing writers from various avenues, which in turn, lends the most qualified writer for your clients' project. What are some of the recent projects your company has been involved in?

KV: It seems like we’re always working on something different which is one of the things which we both love about this industry. It gives us a chance to apply our past experiences to broadening our horizons on a regular basis. Some of our recent projects have included travel advice columns for foreign country travel, profiles of up-and-coming musicians, real estate articles, and a series of technical internet blogs.

WOW: How diverse! Kathryn, I read somewhere that you created a unique non-profit quarterly magazine for inmates. What a revolutionary idea! Can you tell our readers what the magazine is about, and how the idea was conceived?

KV: In 1999, I started a small (now-defunct) non-profit organization called Create Me Free which was based upon the idea that creative self-expression can lead to both individual and societal growth. I worked with incarcerated artists and writers, using creativity to foster change. The literary magazine, which was published from 1999 – 2003, published the completed works and works-in-progress of those individuals involved in the program. Although Create Me Free is no longer an active organization, I do hope to eventually return to this type of non-profit work which would ideally be focused on forming a similar program for incarcerated youth.

WOW: That's an inspirational idea, and a needed one. Your heart shines through in your caring for others.

Speaking of others, you and your partner Moniqua Lane apparently work very well together. I'm always interested in women who collaborate on a higher level. There seems to be a real supportive energy that makes a business work...

KV: We were really lucky to find one another, because our backgrounds are very different but we seem to have nearly all of the same goals. We compliment each other really well. It seems that nearly everything that I don’t know how to do is something that she has experience with and vice versa. Additionally, our work processes are different so we balance each other out really well. It’s a benefit to our clients, because we double-check each other’s work so that they get the best of each of us. And it’s beneficial for us because we challenge each other to develop new skills while supporting each other in doing so.

WOW: There seems to be a fabulous balance between the two of you, yet I'm sure, considering your diverse backgrounds, there are different projects you would most like to take on. Could you tell us what kinds of projects you're interested in?

KV: I, personally, prefer projects which allow me to work with creative professionals in other fields. Music journalism and working with artists to create bios and press releases are areas which interest me because I believe that they allow me to use my talents to help further the creative talents of other individuals. I place a lot of emphasis on developing creative connections. Alternatively, Moniqua prefers projects that allow her to make use of her legal background. She enjoys making arcane aspects of the law accessible to the average reader. We are lucky to have a staff of excellent writers which means that we are each able to develop these areas for ourselves while providing our clients with the services of professionals whose areas of interest and expertise differ from our own.

WOW: After you decide to take on a project, what comes next?

KV: We work with the client to identify his or her exact needs and goals. This allows us to determine which one of us is best suited to overseeing the project. From there, we can determine which writer or writers may be most qualified to complete the project. We work closely with the writer to make sure that the work meets the client’s specifications.

WOW: It sounds like you've got a very 'hands-on' approach. How do you manage to maintain this ongoing working relationship with your client?

KV: We believe that regular, clear communication is the most effective method of maintaining a positive working relationship with our clients. We place a strong emphasis on collaboration and truly enjoy working to help our clients further their own endeavors, and I feel like that genuine interest in their work comes through in all that we do, encouraging continued partnerships over time.

WOW: Do you think attorneys should use freelance writers, and if so, why?

KV: Moniqua tells this story about how on her first day working for a large firm her supervising attorney told her to do as little writing as possible because she was not being paid to write. She says that what she came to realize was that attorneys are paid to know the law and use that knowledge to further their clients’ interests. Writing is an important part of that, but there is a lot of writing that attorneys do that is incidental to that – a lot of marketing and non-legal writing. Moniqua thinks that this is the kind of writing that attorneys can, and often do, hand off to freelance writers. She thinks, though, that for ethical reasons and for the sake of writing quality, it is best for attorneys to have non-practicing lawyers do their hired writing. She says there are lots of them out there like her, so it should be no problem to find one.

WOW: I think everyone could use a freelance writer like Moniqua! That's wonderful that she has that background to bring to the table. (Moniqua, we'll be in touch!)

The two of you sound like an unstoppable team, I'm sure all of our readers would love to know what you're working on right now, either personally, or for your company.

KV: Personally, I’m working on a number of small projects related to music journalism, including collaboration with several local musical artists in the development of online promotional content. I’m also collaborating with my brother (an artist and business owner in Los Angeles) in the development of a magazine relevant to the work that he is doing. Furthermore, I’m in the process of completing a book entitled Ghosts of San Francisco which is to be followed by a book about ghosts specific to Alcatraz Island.

Moniqua is working on a real estate practices book, answering user-submitted questions about real estate and finance at a mortgage lenders’ portal, and researching trends and breaking news in digital music for a daily digital music news journal out of England. Moniqua also maintains a small legal practice focusing on tax and estate planning and real estate law.

Together, Moniqua and I are collaborating on several small creative endeavors, with particular emphasis on writing pro-female erotica which supports the sexuality of women within a framework of diverse situations.

As a company, MoKa House is branching out in to a number of different areas. We are working on a two-pronged approach to immediate development, expanding our client base to include both more creative work and more business-professional work.

WOW: It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate! Where would you like to see MoKa House in the future?

KV: The short-term goals for MoKa House continue the aforementioned two-prong development approach. On my end, I want MoKa House to be providing more direct services for artists and musicians, working closely with emerging artists to assist them in furthering their goals as they grow in popularity. On Moniqua’s side, MoKa House is looking in to expanding our options for improved services to our corporate clients as well as for involvement in regular work with government contract writing.

Within the company, we want to see increased opportunity for our writers to expand their own opportunities. MoKa House operates on the core belief that following our own inspiration in collaborative efforts leads to overall success for all people involved in a project. It is our goal to work with our writers in assisting them to develop the skills they each would like to develop in order to improve their writing careers as well as to offer improved services to our clients. We would like to see some of our high-level writers eventually overseeing and editing for other staff members.

As far as long-term goals, we have discussed the possibility of eventually opening a publishing arm for the company. We would be interested in being involved in more creative works and I would like to see development of a non-profit area for the company. However, we’re open to seeing where things go from here. I have always worked through a process which combines drive and motivation with a willingness to take chances as they are presented to me. This is what allowed Moniqua and I to immediately recognize the opportunity to work with another and I believe it is what will continue to allow MoKa House to succeed.

WOW: I don't doubt that one bit. I'm sure you two will go far.

Thank you so much Kathryn for sharing your inspirational story with our readers. I'm sure they'll all want to visit MoKa House and check out the wonderful services you provide!

SPECIAL PROMOTION: (You won't want to miss!) MoKa House is happy to offer 10% OFF of their standard rates to anyone who mentions reading this interview.

Additionally, MoKa House is always happy to consider website link exchange with other creative and professional people.


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