Diversity in Children’s Literature | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 233: Sailaja Joshi, Mango & Marigold Press
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I’m an avid reader, and one of my favorite things to do with my kids is to read to them. A few years ago, I realized it was easy to find books where my kids could see themselves in the story. But I began to take that for granted and wanted to include more diverse literature.
My guest today is Sailaja Joshi, CEO of Mango and Marigold Press. She has built a company dedicated to this very idea, that books need more diversity.
3:56 – Sailaja 101
- Mango and Marigold Press is an independent publishing house that shares sweet and savory stories of the south Asian experience.
- Sailaja is a mom, wife, passionate runner and excited about disrupting the publishing space.
7:05 – Her personal experience
- The idea of Mango and Marigold started during Sailaja’s first pregnancy. She wanted a library themed baby shower. She was looking for books that represented her culture, history and heritage. What she found was really disappointing.
- Some of the books she found were culturally inaccurate or insensitive.
- She decided to do something about it. She had an entrepreneurial spirit but knew nothing about publishing.
11:39 – How she started her business
- She tried writing books, and it didn’t work. So she asked a friend with a background in children’s literature for help.
- “I think it’s really important for children to be able to see themselves and children to see others having these great moments of joy, and that’s what our books do,” said Sailaja
16:41 – What she’s learned after publishing 20 books
- A big piece she learned is how the books are healing, not for children, but for parents
- “I think for so many parents, these books are things that they were just dying for in their youth and didn’t have,” said Sailaja
19:55 – Feedback
- The books resonate because they are great stories and are empowering. Sailaja says it’s a wonderful feeling.
27:03 – Her favorite book
- Each book has a special meaning and a deep place in her heart.
- “I love stories that just celebrate black and brown joy. Those need to take up all the space on the bookshelf,” said Sailaja.
33:32 – Get to know Sailaja
- Her favorite song to sing – Destiny’s Child Bootylicious
- Her favorite meal – pizza
- Favorite TV show – 80s and 90s children’s shows
“I’m really excited about bridging the accessibility gap in children’s literature and beyond.” – Sailaja
“I was looking for books that represented my culture, my history, my heritage, and what I found was really disappointing.” – Sailaja
“I think it’s really important for children to be able to see themselves and children to see others having these great moments of joy, and that’s what our books do.” – Sailaja
“I think for so many parents, these books are things that they were just dying for in their youth and didn’t have.” – Sailaja
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES OR LINKS
About Sailaja Joshi:
Sailaja N. Joshi is a design thinker, intersectional feminist, mother to two, a bibliophile, an entrepreneur, lover of bold, modern design, diversity activist, and an aspiring dog owner.
A Massachusetts native, Sailaja grew up a voracious reader. From Leo the Lop to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Amelia Bedelia, she loved every book she read. If you were to ask her today what her favorite book is, she’d likely say either the Harry Potter series OR The Tao of Pooh. It really depends on the day.
She has always been interested in exploring multicultural generations and loves using those skills in new and exciting ways as the CEO and founder of Mango & Marigold Press. Mango & Marigold Press is an award-winning independent publishing house that shares the sweet and savory stories of the South Asian experience. Founded in 2014, the company has produced fourteen books across four different product categories and been featured on The Today Show, Us Weekly, People Magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post and so much more.
In 2019, the company unveiled its #1001DiverseBooks initiative. With this program, Sailaja has committed to raising the funds to donate 1001 new, diverse books to literacy nonprofits bridging the accessibility gap within literature for children and teams. Community members can sponsor books for just $10 and through this program ensure that everyone has access to high quality, diverse literature. The company launched the initiative with its 14th book Finding Om and reached their goal of raising funds for 1001 books in just five short days. The company’s mission has expanded to not only bridge the diversity gap in literature for children and teens but also improve the accessibility of diverse books in underserved communities.
Her ambition is to have Mango & Marigold Press be an active participant in the field of multicultural literature, moving forward with the belief that we need diverse literature for all in a diverse world. The company recently expanded its collection to include both young adult and middle grade books (to be published in 2021!) When she’s not working to change the face of publishing, she can be found hanging with her two adorable children at the park or at circus class (really, that’s a thing).
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Leave a comment below with something you learned from this episode.