Good morning, friends! Welcome to the seventh amazing part of our monthly series, an amazing journey into the world of “Supporting AAPI Small Businesses!” At Joeydolls, we are so excited to use our well-known platform to highlight the great things that AAPI small business owners are doing and spread the word about their truly amazing goods and services. Today is a special day as we unveil the story of Gemma’s Library. It’s something you don’t want to miss! Prepare yourselves for an awe-inspiring library full of Vietnamese-English books that Chau Nguyen Bui gave to the United States as a gift.
We believe strongly that supporting small businesses is the key to building a strong and stable economy. By highlighting strong AAPI small business leaders like Gemma’s Library, our main goal is to help them reach a bigger audience and see their businesses grow.
Now, let’s start this exciting journey by going deep into Gemma’s Library, which has a world that goes on forever. Let’s all raise our glasses in a toast to the hard work, commitment, and huge amounts of creativity that AAPI small business masters like Chau show every day. So, without further ado, let’s start this exciting gathering and dive into Chau’s fascinating story and her wonderful establishment.
Tell Us About Yourself & What Does Your Business Do?
Allow me to introduce myself! I am Chau, a proud mother of two extraordinary little girls who serve as the wellspring of inspiration behind the inception of my venture. As a devoted mom, I yearned to provide my daughters with an engaging and enjoyable means to enhance their proficiency in our native tongue, Vietnamese. Hence, the birth of Gemma’s Library, where I curate a splendid collection of bilingual Vietnamese-English books tailored to captivate young minds and facilitate their linguistic journey. It brings me immense joy to witness my daughters, and now countless others, embark on a delightful voyage of language discovery through the pages of these books.
How Long Have You Been in Business, and How Did It All Begin?
It all started in 2021 with a simple idea—a vision to create an ABC book for my beloved nieces and my own precious daughter. Little did I know that this creative spark would ignite a passionate flame within me, transforming into a mission to enhance the tapestry of children’s books with vibrant Vietnamese-English tales.
The initial inspiration took form in the creation of our Vietnamese Alphabet book, which was intended as a heartfelt Christmas gift for my family. However, as I held the finished masterpiece in my hands, I was overcome with a deep sense of affection and pride. The book had become so much more than a mere presence; it was a tangible symbol of love and cultural preservation that I yearned to share with other families who desired to honour their Vietnamese heritage.
As a new mother, I soon realized the scarcity of resources available for families like mine who wished to teach their children Vietnamese. It was this recognition of a significant need that propelled me forward. Fueled by a desire to make a difference, I embarked on a journey to create books that would fill the void, which would become invaluable tools for families seeking to pass on their language and traditions to their little ones.
And thus, Gemma’s Library was born—an oasis where captivating bilingual Vietnamese-English books come to life. Our collection is carefully curated to cater to the needs of families yearning to nurture their children’s linguistic abilities and strengthen their cultural connections. Each book is a testament to our unwavering dedication to diversity, education, and the joy of storytelling.
What Challenges Have You Faced in Running This Company and an Asian-Owned Small Business?
Running Gemma’s Library as an Asian-owned small business has brought forth its own challenges, each contributing to our company’s growth and resilience. One prominent hurdle I face is the battle against imposter syndrome as a “Vietnamese author.” Despite my background of speaking Vietnamese and having acquired basic reading and writing skills during my younger years, I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. With every book I write, I continue expanding my knowledge, learning new terms and vocabulary.
I am driven by a desire to avoid recreating what has already been done, constantly seeking fresh topics, subjects, and themes to explore in my books and projects. However, this pursuit of novelty can sometimes present difficulties in finding inspiration or managing an overflow of ideas, making it challenging to maintain focus.
Another challenge lies in the niche nature of our products, which center around the Vietnamese language. Finding the right market for our books can be a task in itself. Striking a balance between creating inclusive books and embracing cultural specificity can be delicate. I strive to ensure that our books are neither too narrowly focused on Vietnamese culture nor lacking in authentic representation. Fortunately, I have been fortunate to connect with many like-minded families who share my passion for teaching Vietnamese to their little ones, building a supportive community of moms and dads with their own projects in this realm.
As a small business with only one employee (that’s me!), the juggling act becomes even more challenging. Balancing the responsibilities of running a business, working full-time, and being a mom requires strategic time management and prioritization. It’s akin to a game of Tetris, fitting each task into the limited hours of the day while ensuring that every aspect receives the attention it deserves. While I cherish my role as a “Mom Boss,” my ultimate priority is being a mother, and my family always comes first. If an order takes a bit longer to fulfill, I’m busy cherishing moments with my daughters, snuggling up together, and sharing the joy of reading.
These challenges, though demanding, fuel my determination to overcome obstacles and make Gemma’s Library a beacon of inspiration for families seeking to preserve their Vietnamese heritage and instill a love for language and culture in their children.
What Are Your Thoughts on the Changing Landscape in the Industry?
I’m thrilled about the industry’s changing landscape, with a strong push for diversity and inclusion. Kids must access books, movies, and music that represent them. I want our books to make kids think, “that girl looks like me!” Connecting with others on the same journey and seeing authors promote different languages is inspiring. Self-publishing has enabled niche stories to be shared without waiting for validation. We’re a generation of DIY authors and creators embracing the power to tell our own stories. No more waiting for others to validate our vision!
What Are Your Favourite Things About Your Company?
One of the most fulfilling aspects of my company is the ability to provide valuable resources to families who, like mine, share the goal of preserving the Vietnamese language. It brings me great joy to connect with other parents who are incredibly supportive and encouraging. My village has expanded significantly through this journey, encompassing a network of like-minded individuals. Moreover, I find immense delight in featuring my daughters and family in our books, whether it’s through subtle or obvious cameos. It adds a personal touch and strengthens our connection with our readers.
What Are Your Hopes and Dreams for Your Company?
My hopes and dreams for my company are centred around creating valuable resources that benefit and resonate with other families. I aspire to make reading and learning a more enjoyable experience through our books. It is truly an honour to see our books find a place on your bookshelves, and my ultimate dream is to keep creating an ever-growing collection to enrich your libraries.
As part of our expansion last year, we introduced educational toys through Mila’s Toybox (a sister company of Gemma’s Library). I am eager to further develop and expand on that in the coming years. Our motto, “Học Nhiều! Chơi Nhiều!” which means “Learn A Lot! Play A Lot!”, embodies our mission, and I am committed to creating products that enable children to do both—learn and have fun.
How Can We Best Follow and Support You?
To best follow and support us, stay tuned for our upcoming Kickstarter campaign, planned for the end of March or beginning of April. We’re thrilled to be releasing a new book called “Gemma’s School Adventure,” where you can join Gemma in exploring shapes and school-themed objects like books, rulers, and pens. We’ve also created a double-sided jigsaw puzzle that serves as a playful companion to the book, featuring a colourful classroom illustration on one side and a vocabulary review on the other.
To stay updated on the Kickstarter launch and other exciting news, make sure to follow us on Instagram (@gemmas.library). Your support means the world to us, so please spread the love by telling your friends about our products. We greatly appreciate word-of-mouth recommendations. We love receiving messages from people who discovered us through a friend—it lets us know we’re on the right track!
Feel free to send us feedback, share your ideas for future projects, and send us pictures of your family enjoying our products. You can also tag us in your posts. Your support and engagement truly make a difference.
So, follow us on,
Anything Else You Wish to Share?
Absolutely! I’m excited to share that we have three more books in the pipeline for this year. We’re working on books exploring body parts, daily activities, and opposites. These upcoming releases will provide even more opportunities for children to learn and have fun with Gemma’s Library. Stay tuned for updates and announcements as we progress with these projects. We can’t wait to share them with you and continue supporting your family’s learning journey.