An Interview with Author E.J. Mellow and Natasha of Book Baristas, Founders of She Is Booked
Every good reader understands the allure of bookish accessories. Whether they prefer ebooks or print (or both, no judging!), there’s something for everyone: a pretty enamel pin, a poster or a BookBeau sleeve that protects ereaders and physical books from damage. And let’s not forget the plethora of bookmarks we readers love to collect, especially from signings and conventions.
And now, award-winning author E.J. Mellow (Jacqueline) and book blogger Natasha Minoso of Book Baristas have launched a charity project called She Is Booked, selling bookmarks with inspiring messages towards women, and all their profits go to charity – the current organization being RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). The bookmarks are an empowering and aesthetically gorgeous amalgamation of our love for accessories – especially ones that are highly Instagrammable – and our desire to affect change, particularly in today’s climate and advocacy for women’s issues.
If their rapid success is any indication, their project is proof that change begins at the grassroots level and works its way up. Natasha and Jacqueline join Book Riot to talk about its origins, bookstagram, and their favorite book heroines.
Welcome to Book Riot! What can you tell readers about the origins of She is Booked?
Jacqueline: Thank you so much for having us! The origin of She Is Booked began after Natasha and I watched some of the Kavanaugh hearing. We were both feeling pretty helpless and angry, not to mention the months prior were similarly filled with disheartening political news. I wanted to do something beyond share in the frustration, so I posed the question—Is there something we can do within our community? We have these platforms, we need to try and make some sort of difference, especially now.
Natasha: I was all in. We weren’t sure exactly what it would be yet, but we knew we wanted to start somewhere.
How did you come up with the name of the charity and the slogans, and the colors? What does it mean to you to “Read Like a Girl”?
Natasha: We loved the idea of having “book” in the copy because it’s the book community we are reaching and because being “booked” is about being busy and spending time doing important work.
Jacq: Despite its negative use in the past, the phrase “like a girl” is, and should be, a positive measurement of success. We thought it would only make sense that we would “read like a girl” which is to say we, as girls, read without any limitations. As for the colors, that is purely an aesthetic choice. We’re a fan of that color combo.
You’ve only opened an account for the project on Instagram – why do you think the platform has become such a hub for readers and writers?
Jacq: We wanted to focus on Instagram specifically because that’s the community we belong to and where we knew we could make the most impact and reach.
Natasha: Exactly. I also think the reason the #bookstagram community is so large is because it’s such a visual platform and reading can be a very visual experience. To me reading isn’t just about finishing a book on my own; it’s about sharing the entire process from start to finish. We have a lot of fun marrying our love for photography with our love for books.
Jacq: Plus, books are miniature works of art, from the cover designs to the interior pages. Doesn’t everyone want to photograph them?
It looks like the bookmarks have certainly made a mark in the reading community! In a recent IG story, you mention you sold out all of them within hours of your launch. Given the strong reception and appetite for bookish accessories, coupled with your unique roles as influencers in the reading community, do you think you’ll expand to other merchandise and partnerships?
Jacq: As of right now, we’re keeping it as simple as our messaging: make your mark with these bookmarks. In the future, we’d be open to talking about partnerships, but for now we thankfully and fortunately have our hands full with just this.
On your website, you write about the heroines that inspire you to become like them in real life – Who are your favorite literary heroines?
Natasha: I’d have to go with Evelyn Hugo, from Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She’s just so incredible and her story is one I’ll never forget (or get over).
Jacq: This is such a tough one! My list is very long, but if I were to name two from top of mind, I’d Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austin’s Pride & Prejudice and Delilah Bard from V.E. Schwab’s The Shades of Magic Series. These are two spectacular ladies.