Hey there, everyone! Welcome to our special tenth edition of the “Supporting AAPI Small Businesses!” series. It is a pleasure to have each and every one of you here with us as we recognize the outstanding accomplishments of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) businesspeople. At Joeydolls, we are incredibly happy to use our platform to highlight the wonderful experiences of AAPI small business entrepreneurs and to share the special magic they bring to the table. As we delve into the motivational tale of Spark Collection, this is a significant day. Irene Kang, the creator of the fascinating universe of the Spark Collection multilingual books, is someone I want to present to you.
We all believe that supporting small companies is essential to building a robust and resilient economy. We want to connect outstanding AAPI entrepreneurs like Irene with a larger audience and provide an atmosphere where their businesses can flourish.
The voyage of Spark Collection is intriguing, and I cordially encourage you to go on an expedition with me to discover it all. So let’s celebrate the commitment, grit, and innovation of AAPI small business trailblazers like Irene.
No more waiting—let’s jump right into this exciting journey and get lost in the incredible tale of Irene and her outstanding venture.
Tell Us About Yourself & What Does Your Business Do?
Absolutely! I’m Irene Kang, and I’m the driving force behind Spark Collection multilingual books. I’m also a proud mom in Austin, TX, with a Chinese-Korean American family. When my son entered our lives, I felt a strong calling to pass on our family language and cultural heritage.
I started my search for language books but soon realized that finding engaging resources for multicultural families like mine was a challenge. Shockingly, only a mere 1% of children’s books published in the U.S. each year are bilingual, and even fewer cater to Asian languages.
That’s where Spark Collection books come in. I created them to make Asian languages more accessible and provide families like ours with an avenue to enjoy learning languages and cultures together in a fun and interactive way. Our Spark Collection books come in Mandarin-English, Korean-English, and Hindi-English editions. They’re not just books; they’re experiences. With features like large lift-the-flaps, a dry-erase writable interior, pronunciation guides, and summary vocabulary tables, they’re designed to make learning engaging and enjoyable. And exciting news—we’re gearing up to launch our first educational toy soon!
How Long Have You Been in Business, and How Did It All Begin?
Spark Collection took its first steps into the world through Kickstarter in July 2021. The journey started with the most precious inspiration—my son. You see, I’m Chinese-American, and my partner is Korean-American. Becoming parents ourselves fueled a strong desire to pass down our cultural heritage to our children.
My early years were shaped by my family in China, and those memories are deeply cherished.
When we visited China a couple of years ago and saw my son connecting with my relatives there, it brought an immense sense of joy. That experience sparked a thought: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he could converse with them in Chinese as he grows since they don’t speak English?
Being a second-generation Asian American, I realized the scarcity of books in Asian languages for us to read. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives. My son’s daycare closed, and I took on the role of his full-time caregiver. In my quest for Chinese and Korean language books, I faced the challenge of finding resources that were accessible and engaging for a multicultural and non-fluent family like ours.
That’s when Spark Collection was born. My mission was clear—to enhance accessibility to Asian languages and empower families to craft enjoyable and meaningful moments while immersing themselves in language and culture.
What Are Your Thoughts on the Changing the Landscape in the Industry?
I’m delighted that you inquired. Even though things are moving in the right direction, there is still more work to be done in the field of children’s literature and representation. And also, it’s encouraging to see that we’re actually making the kinds of multilingual books that we wished existed when we were younger because we’re actually making them.
I have high hopes that the next generation will grow up in a world that more accurately reflects its rich diversity in representation. They’ll have the opportunity to see their own likenesses and tales reflected in books, movies, and toys, and who knows, maybe even receive an Academy Award!
What Are Your Favourite Things About Your Company?
One of the things I absolutely cherish is the connection we build with the global community—readers, families, and beyond. I take the time to read every email, comment, and direct message, and I genuinely thrill in learning how people embrace and adore our books.
What Are Your Hopes and Dreams for Your Company?
I hope that Spark Collection multilingual books and toys become a source of joy and learning for people worldwide. Also, I envision our offerings becoming integral to language learning journeys, sparking delight in both kids and adults. As we grow, I want to continue bridging language and cultural education gaps. I aim for our resources to be accessible to anyone with the desire to learn, ensuring that a lack of materials never stands in the way.
How Can We Best Follow and Support You?
Staying connected is easy! Follow us on social media, request our multilingual books at local libraries and bookstores, and most importantly, share our creations with your community—friends, neighbours, everyone. Your support goes a long way in making language and cultural learning an enriching experience for all.