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My Economy

For this entrepreneur, the pandemic provided an opportunity to diversify children’s libraries

Kai Ryssdal and Minju Park May 18, 2021
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"The books I published in the pandemic all focus on featuring Asian children, family, because the Asian community is extremely diverse," said Yobe Qiu, an entrepreneur in New York City. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
My Economy

For this entrepreneur, the pandemic provided an opportunity to diversify children’s libraries

Kai Ryssdal and Minju Park May 18, 2021
Heard on:
"The books I published in the pandemic all focus on featuring Asian children, family, because the Asian community is extremely diverse," said Yobe Qiu, an entrepreneur in New York City. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
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Yobe Qiu owns several childcare centers in New York City and writes children’s’ books about Asian cultures.

My name is Yobe Qiu. I am an entrepreneur in New York City. I own a few child care centers that serve families with children two to six years old. But in March, when the pandemic hit, the Department of Health gave us an order to shut down or close. I thought: ‘This won’t hurt my business that much,’ but we ended up closing two of the locations.

As an entrepreneur, as a hustler at heart, I had the time to refocus my energy, try to figure out what’s going to happen. Before the pandemic, I’ve already written and published one children’s book. It’s about how different Asian communities celebrate Lunar New Year, and I never thought about publishing children’s books again, it was just something I did because I needed a book for my classroom. And I thought about maybe just writing one more children’s book, just for fun. I have some time.

The books I published in the pandemic all focus on featuring Asian children, family, because the Asian community is extremely diverse. For example, my Moon Festival book, I featured the Chinese community that celebrates the Moon Festival, the Vietnamese and the Japanese community. And we talked about the culture and the food and the meaning behind the holidays.

I launched a Kickstarter. I was so scared. I’m like, ‘Oh, is this the best time to be an Asian entrepreneur, woman, in this field?’. And the support came in rates I’ve never really expected. I was really shy, I asked for $5,000. We had a 30-day campaign and we raised a little over $8,000. So we got a lot of support, which I’m really grateful for, because the Asian community was under attack for the pandemic. I didn’t know if that was a good time to launch a product like this, a children’s book focusing on Asian holidays.

I was able to reach out to a few principals and school districts, and work with them to promote multicultural resources such as my books, where we talked about the beauty of our culture, and raised something positive in the Asian community.

I will continue to write because I love it. I am standing behind something much bigger than profits and myself. And something that will go on long after I’m not in the world anymore.

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