Welcome to the first episode of our monthly series “Support AAPI Small Businesses“. At Joeydolls, we are dedicated to using our platform to support AAPI Small Businesses and to publicize the amazing work of other AAPI Small Business Owners. We want to assist them in reaching a wider audience by showcasing their ability, hard work, and dedication. In this issue, we’re pleased to introduce you to Bitty Bao, a company that creates board books and non-book objects that celebrate Asian culture and language.
As founders of Bitty Bao, Lacey and Lulu aim to instill their children’s love and confidence in language and culture. This led them to create board books and non-book products through their small business, Bitty Bao. What started as a passion project of creating cute Chinese bilingual books for their children quickly grew to include 39 bilingual books, toys, apparel, and other merchandise celebrating Asian culture and language.
Starting a small business is never easy, and Lacey and Lulu faced the challenge of learning bookmaking and business skills from scratch. However, their motivation to provide avenues of meaningful representation to mainstream media and product options within mass distribution channels kept them going.
At Joeydolls, supporting small businesses is essential for building a strong and resilient economy. Through this series, we aim to showcase the fantastic work of AAPI small business owners like Bitty Bao and help them grow.
Tell Us About Yourself & What Does Your Business Do?
Hey there! We are Lacey Benard & Lulu Cheng, the founders of Bitty Bao, a small business that creates bilingual board books and non-book products. We met over a decade ago while working as elementary teachers in California.
As educators, we both felt passionate about promoting language and culture in our students, and that passion only grew stronger once we became moms ourselves. We wanted to instill a love and confidence in language and culture in our children, which ultimately inspired us to create Bitty Bao.
Our bilingual board books are intended to make language learning enjoyable and accessible for young children. We wanted to make something that would be educational, engaging, and entertaining for both children and parents. We offer a variety of non-book products, such as flashcards and learning kits, to supplement language learning in addition to our board books.
It hasn’t been easy to start and run a small business, but it has been extremely rewarding. We’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished with Bitty Bao and hope to continue developing products that promote diversity, inclusion, and a love of language and culture.
How Long Have You Been in Business, and How Did It All Begin?
Since our launch in September 2020, Bitty Bao has been on an exciting journey. As the founders, we have been thrilled to see our passion project grow into a small business celebrating Asian culture and language. It all began with a simple idea – creating cute Chinese bilingual books for our children to enjoy.
As elementary teachers with a shared love for language and culture, we wanted to instill these values in our children. We realized limited resources were available to support bilingualism and Asian culture in children’s literature. As a result, we decided to take matters into our own hands and create a series of bilingual board books highlighting the beauty of the Chinese language.
As we worked on our first books, we soon realized we weren’t alone in our desire for quality bilingual resources. Parents and educators worldwide were also searching for ways to share their love of language and culture with their children. This realization inspired us to expand our product offerings to include toys, apparel, and other merchandise celebrating Asian culture and language.
It’s been a wild ride, but we’re proud of how far we’ve come. We’ve grown from a passion project to a small business that supports and celebrates Asian culture and language. We’re excited to see what the future holds for Bitty Bao and are grateful for the opportunity to share our vision with others.
What Challenges Have You Faced in Running This Company and an Asian-Owned Small Business?
As Asian-American small business owners, we have faced several challenges while running our company, Bitty Bao. Despite being elementary teachers by trade, we ventured into bookmaking and business. So, we had to learn everything from scratch because it was all new to us. We may not have had a lot of background in the field, but that didn’t stop us from doing what we loved.
Among the challenges we faced were mastering the perplexing publishing industry, effectively marketing our products, and staying on top of our finances. It’s been frustrating at times to be an Asian small business owner and have to contend with microaggressions, stereotypes, and discrimination. However, we remain committed to promoting Asian culture and language through our products.
Despite these challenges, we have persevered and grown our business with a “make it work” attitude. We have turned to resources such as YouTube, Skillshare classes, and Facebook creative support groups to help us navigate the complexities of bookmaking and business. We have also leaned on each other and our supportive community of fellow Asian small business owners for guidance and motivation.
What Are Your Thoughts on Changing the Landscape in the Industry?
As Asian-American women, we are passionate about changing the landscape in the industry to better represent and uplift our community. We believe that representation matters, and we’re excited to be part of this movement by creating bilingual books and products that celebrate Asian culture and language.
We are well aware that this is not a simple task and will require much effort, commitment, and careful consideration. We put in a lot of time and effort because we care deeply that what we deliver is not only superior in quality but also genuine and has real meaning for our readers.
The positive difference we can make keeps us going even when the task at hand seems insurmountable. We think that greater cultural diversity and acceptance in mainstream media and distribution can help people of different backgrounds learn from one another and develop compassion for one another.
We’re happy to see the business world opening up and welcoming more people from all walks of life. Our goal is to make the world a more just and representative place, and we hope our efforts will encourage others to do the same.
What Are Your Favourite Things About Your Company?
Our favourite aspect of our organization is seeing its positive impact on families. It warms our hearts to see parents, grandparents, and siblings unite through our books and products. It’s quite satisfying to hear from our consumers, who share their enthusiasm for learning and passing on their culture and language through our goods.
We also like the creative freedom of owning and operating our small business. We can bring our vision to life in a way that is true and meaningful to us without sacrificing our principles. It’s been a rewarding journey of learning and growing, and we’re always looking for new ways to celebrate and promote Asian culture and language.
Thus, we’re grateful to have the opportunity to manage a business that matches our passions and principles, and we’re excited to see where this journey takes us next.
What Are Your Hopes and Dreams at Your Company?
As the owners of a small business specializing in bilingual books, our hopes and dreams for my company revolve around promoting cultural diversity and inclusivity, particularly among the AAPI community.
One of our main goals is to raise the profile and recognition of AAPI artists and writers. We aim to highlight the unique perspectives and creative talents of AAPI people through our bilingual book offerings while providing a platform for their stories to be heard and celebrated.
Another important goal for our organization is to instill in AAPI children a sense of pride in their heritage and languages. We hope to instill a sense of cultural identity and confidence in young readers by providing bilingual books incorporating AAPI languages and cultural themes. This is especially important for AAPI children who may feel disconnected from their heritage or face difficulties expressing their cultural identity.
We hope to educate and inspire non-AAPI people to learn more about AAPI culture and history and promote AAPI culture within the community. We hope to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the AAPI community, as well as cross-cultural dialogue and engagement, by offering bilingual books exploring various cultural perspectives.
How Can We Best Follow and Support You?
We are grateful to anyone who wants to follow and support our journey. Our mission of promoting language and cultural diversity is very close to our hearts. By purchasing Bitty Bao books and products, you support our small business and the message of inclusivity and representation.
You can find all our books and merchandise on our website, www.bittybao.com. You can also follow us on Instagram @bitty.bao and Facebook @bittybaobooks to stay up-to-date with our latest releases and promotions.
Another way to support us is to share our brand with your family, friends, and followers. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful and helps us reach more people who may be interested in our message.
We are also open to collaborations with individuals and organizations who share our values and goals. If you have any ideas or opportunities, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website or social media platforms.
Thank you for considering supporting Bitty Bao and joining us in our mission to promote language and cultural diversity through literature and play!