What began as a fun hobby for Vanessa Nicolle in 2020 has turned into a brick-and-mortar dream come true for book lovers who are passionate about diversity and inclusion.
Nicolle started Femme Fire Books as a way to “celebrate diversity and encourage reading for all.” You may wonder, what’s so different about this bookstore? Nicolle’s shop is stocked with books written by women and people of color who have been marginalized in the publishing industry in the past. Femme Fire Books is a way to raise the voices of those who have felt silenced.
“Representation matters, and I felt as a Filipino-American woman I was not very well represented in literature spaces. When I went to the bookstore, it was quite hard to find books written by Filipino-American authors, let alone Asian-American authors…so I wanted to create a space where you wouldn’t have to search so far and wide for that,” said Nicolle.
Before and during the start up of her brand, Nicolle wasn’t able to find other businesses like hers. She eventually found motivation in Bel Canto Books in Long Beach, California and Yu and Me Books in New York City’s Chinatown, among others, to continue bringing voices to those who haven’t had one in the past. One thing to note is anyone is welcome here. While she does spotlight diverse cultures and people, Nicolle wants readers to know this bookstore is for all.
Femme Fire Books’ offerings include poetry, non-fiction, fantasy, romance and children’s books. Have too many books to read at home and forcing yourself to stop buying more until you read them (I try and fail at that)? Femme Fire Books also has unique stickers— insert adorable Stranger Things stickers here—and mugs too. Nicolle even welcomes suggestions for those who think a new book should be added to her stock.
Being a small business owner, Nicolle understands how hard it can feel to be seen and heard. She encourages others to keep going, noting there are people supporting you, even if you don’t notice them. “Being your authentic self and putting that into your brand will carry its own weight,” Nicolle said.
So, looking for a new book? Check out Femme Fire Books in Riverside. Men, women and anyone in between are encouraged to visit and explore a new world in each book. You can also check out my favorite shelf “Blind Date With a Book” because the fun is in the surprise.