Ty Allan Jackson moved to the Berkshires from the Bronx as a young father of three. “I wanted a more ideal environment to raise a family,” says Jackson. “There’s a sense of community here and a lot of opportunities for young children, which aren’t as prominent in New York City.”
As it turned out, the Berkshires offered plenty of opportunity for him, too. “Berkshire County is the catalyst of my success,” Jackson says. As the founder of Big Head Books, he has discovered that the Berkshires are a great place to start a small business. “There’s open-mindedness and a willingness to listen and be receptive to business and support someone with a new idea. That doesn’t happen everywhere, but it can happen here.”
Jackson’s business idea was launched when he wrote a book called Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire: The Lemonade Escapade, an inspiring story for school-age children based on the experience of his son, who was seven years old at the time, opening a lemonade stand one afternoon, earning $50 in three hours, then asking him what to do with the money. Jackson says that when a trip to the bookstore with his son that day came up empty for books to teach him about financial literacy—especially books where a child of color is the main character—he decided to write one of his own.
Jackson says once his idea came to fruition, the community embraced it. He found support through financial institutions, the Boys and Girls Club, and the United Way. “It made me believe I could be successful,” he says.
Since then, Jackson has written four books, published through his company, and has garnered local and national attention as an advocate for social justice, literacy, and entrepreneurship. “I will forever be indebted,” he says, “giving of myself allowed Berkshire County to give itself to me.”
Photo: Kara Thornton