In 2013, I had the opportunity to finally finish college by coming to the University of Mobile. To my surprise, even though I was an “older” student, I was warmly welcomed by all the faculty and students in the Alabama School of the Arts. I felt like I had a place here. At the time, I was so scared to go back to school while raising small children, but this inspiring environment gave me the faith that I could succeed at what I wanted to learn.
The University of Mobile will always have a special place in my heart because I realized my lifetime dream to create music here. During my sophomore year, I began working on my senior project, a children's illustrated storybook brand that includes digital music and plush toy companions. Over the course of the project, I fell in love with graphic design, and faculty members spanning several departments helped me develop my ideas.
After graduating from UM, I founded the brand Willow Oaks Stories & Songs and launched the first of three illustrated storybook and plush companion products called “Cocoa and Snow.”
“Cocoa and Snow” was inspired by my children’s pet bunnies and started out as just a song that I sang to them spontaneously at bedtime one night in college. Story time was such an important part of our nightly routine. It was our time to connect after a busy day, to laugh together as we read silly books, to encourage and to pray together.
I hope to create an atmosphere for connection time and inspire a love for music in young children. That is why our illustrated storybooks come with a simple lead sheet in the back of the book to help with learning to sight read sheet music. The simple repetition of the story and song helps children learn to sight read words as well.
With these products, it is my desire to help families create an atmosphere for emotional connection with each other and make their story time remembered for a lifetime.
About the Author:
Meshelle Miller is an author, songwriter, graphic designer, mother of three boys, as well as the Founder of Willow Oaks Stories & Songs. She is a 2017 alumna of the University of Mobile, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Worship Leadership with a music business concentration. In May of 2021, she will complete her Master of Fine Arts in creative technologies and Practice. Currently, Meshelle enjoys teaching Introduction to Graphic Design at the University of Mobile, and she plans to continue to grow her children’s brand in boutiques across the southeast.