Welcome to the second part of our monthly series, “Supporting AAPI Small Businesses!” At Joeydolls, we want to use our platform to help AAPI small business owners spread the word about their work’s greatness. Our goal is to help them reach more people and show off their skills, hard work, and commitment. In this issue, we’re excited to tell you about “I Am Different, I Am Great,” a company that makes diverse Asian children books for kids that are different from each other.
We’ll talk to Melody Kiang, the founder of I Am Different, I Am Great, about her business and other things. At Joeydolls, we are sure that helping small businesses is a key part of building a strong economy that can last. We want to show how great the work of AAPI small business owners like I Am Different, I Am Great is and help them grow through this series. So, come along with us on this trip to learn about and celebrate AAPI small businesses’ great work.
Tell Us About Yourself & What Does Your Business Do?
Thanks for letting me come, I’m Melody Kiang. Actually, I’m an award-winning author, a preschool teacher, and a business owner. As a second-generation Asian American, I had my share of problems and experiences that changed how I saw the world. So, I found my calling in writing stories for kids that show how different and welcoming our society is.
My business, “I Am Different, I Am Great,” is all about making diverse children’s books that help young readers embrace their uniqueness and celebrate their differences. Our books are not just for fun; they also teach people about important social issues and make them more aware of them.
One of our most recent books, “I Am Different, I Am Great,” has won the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award – Silver Award for 2022. It’s a huge honour that shows how hard we’ve worked and how much we care about promoting diversity and inclusion in children’s books.
How Long Have You Been in Business, and How Did It All Begin?
My company, “I Am Different, I Am Great,” was started in September 2022, which makes it a fairly new business. But the idea for the business has been around for quite a while.
As a teacher and writer, I’ve always been very interested in making learning environments for kids more open and diverse. Since it opened in September 2022, parents, teachers, and young readers have been overwhelmingly happy with my business. I’m proud of what we’ve done so far and excited about what the future might bring.
What Challenges Have You Faced in Running This Company and an Asian-Owned Small Business?
The challenges of running a small business are compounded when the business is owned by Asians and attempt to enter a highly competitive sector. One of the most challenging tasks I’ve faced is spreading the word about my company and its offerings.
Self-publishing left me without the same advantages enjoyed by authors whose works are published by more conventional means, including access to both readers and other authors. Because of this, I had a hard time promoting my work and attracting potential readers and buyers. Word of mouth and social media have always been a challenge for me when it comes to marketing my business.
Despite these challenges, I will never give up on my mission to write books for kids that promote diversity and inspire them to be themselves. If I can develop my company while staying true to my principles and mission, I will succeed in making the world a better place.
What Are Your Thoughts on Changing the Landscape in the Industry?
I’m very interested in changing the publishing industry so that it includes more voices from different backgrounds, including those of Asian heritage. The lack of Asian characters in books has been a problem that needs to be fixed for a long time. I’m proud to be part of a movement that wants to change that.
Through my business, “I Am Different, I Am Great,” I want to share Asian stories and voices and promote diversity and acceptance in a broader sense thourgh my diverse Asian children books. I think that by making children’s books that are more diverse and open to everyone, we can help young readers learn to care about, understand, and respect people from all backgrounds and cultures.
I also think it’s important to support other Asian-owned businesses and creators. Not only does this increase the number of Asian people in the industry, but it also builds a stronger sense of community and support. We can make lasting changes and positively affect the world if we help each other and work together.
I’m optimistic about the industry’s future as a whole, and I’m looking forward to seeing more diverse and inclusive stories told and celebrated.
What Are Your Favourite Things About Your Company?
One of the things I like best about “I Am Different, I Am Great” is seeing how my books positively help kids and their families. Hearing from people who bought and liked my book and gave me feedback is very rewarding and inspires me to keep making things.
It’s especially meaningful when I receive reviews from my family and friends, as I know they’re reading the book with their own children and can see firsthand the value and impact of my work. It’s a great feeling to know that my stories are helping to promote diversity and encourage young readers to be proud of what makes them different.
I’m also proud that my business is able to help other Asian-owned businesses and make the publishing industry more diverse and open to everyone. Through my work, I can give a voice to underrepresented communities and help create a more equitable and just world.
What Are Your Hopes and Dreams for Your Company?
My biggest hope and dream for “I Am Different, I Am Great” is to keep writing interesting and empowering stories for young readers that promote diversity, inclusion, and empowerment. I’m very passionate about using my platform to share Asian stories and voices and to help kids from all backgrounds feel seen, heard, and valued.
In the future, I hope to grow my business and write a series of diverse Asian children books with characters from different cultures and backgrounds that show how beautiful they are. I believe that storytelling has the power to inspire and uplift me, and I want to use my writing to make a positive impact on the world and help create a more inclusive and equitable society.
How Can We Best Follow and Support You?
I’m so happy to be able to show you all my work and what I’m passionate about. There are a few ways you can follow my journey and help my business if you want to.
First, please go to journeywithmeimei to see my website. There, you can learn more about my books, download free colouring pages for your kids, and learn about my latest news and events.
You can also find out more about my work and how I make it by following me on social media. I’m active on Instagram (@journeywithmeimei), and I love connecting with other writers, teachers, and parents who share my interest in using children’s books to promote diversity and inclusion.
Lastly, one of the best ways you can help me and my business is by telling your friends, family, and people in your community about my books. The power of word of mouth is huge, and I’m grateful to every reader who finds my work and helps me reach new audiences.
Anything Else You Wish to Share?
I am glad you asked! I write diverse Asian children books and also make downloadable activity sheets that parents and teachers can use to help kids learn and grow. These sheets are made for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners. They cover various topics, from shapes and colours to social and emotional skills and more.
I care about making educational resources that are fun, interesting, and available to all families, no matter where they come from or how much money they have. So, on my website, Journey with Mei Mei, I give away these activity sheets for free. I hope that parents, teachers, and other caretakers can use them to help their children do well.
Thank you again for letting me talk about my work and for wanting to help AAPI small businesses like mine. Together, we can give all children a better and more inclusive future.
You can also follow the business at: