We interrupt our regular schedule to bring you this post.
Have you heard about marginsbox yet? Yes? No?
Maybe? I don’t know? Can you repeat the questions?
Now that I have gotten the theme song of Malcolm In The Middle stuck in your head, I’ll get to my point. This is a new subscription box that I, personally, am very excited about. Described as “a bookish subscription box featuring Black, Indigenous, and person of color (BIPOC) young adult authors alongside handcrafted items from BIPOC creators curated to coincide with book themes”, this box is right up my alley in highlighting marginalised voices and creators. The founders, cara davis and Adrianne Russell, are both vocal proponents of supporting and celebrating diversity in media, and it is amazing to see their work bear fruit.
Unfortunately, I only found out about the box after the Kickstarter campaign was over, or I would definitely have donated, but I have ordered the first box (go get yours now if you can!) and I cannot wait to see where they take this!
I had the opportunity and privilege to email them a few questions, and so, without further ado, I present their answers, unedited, to you.
- How did you come up with the idea for MarginsBox?
Adrianne: I’ve been interested in publishing for a long time, and often discussions arise surrounding various inequities where marginalized authors are concerned. We experience hypervisibility, where we are disproportionately scrutinized, and invisibility, where we are literally not recognized, and marginalized authors typically have to do more with less in terms of marketing and finding their readership. When Cara proposed a BIPOC bookbox, I thought about the calls for inclusion in other young adult boxes that had largely been ignored, and was immediately down.
cara: I spend a lot of time looking at publishing issues, and the more fun parts of publishing, and a while back, I started noticing there was a serious lack of books by BIPOC and queer authors in popular book boxes. Not to mention marketing for marginalized authors telling stories about marginalized characters tends to be sparse. So one day, I just got fed up and I said I’d like to do a box highlighting marginalized voices, and now we’re here.
- What logistic nightmares did you not anticipate? Or, alternatively, what did you expect to be more difficult than it turned out to be?
Adrianne: The most challenging thing is money. Some entrepreneurs have access to steady streams of venture capital but that’s rarely the case when you’re part of marginalized communities. Our Kickstarter was amazing and the amount of support blew me away! Like COMPLETELY. It’s a fantastically unbelievable foundation but it doesn’t cover everything. As we grow, our goal is to secure enough funding for several boxes in advance through a combination of subscriptions, developmental partnerships, and sponsorships. Also it would be awesome to find affordable space for order fulfillment as we scale up.
Honestly, I thought the hardest thing would be convincing people that marginsbox was a project worth supporting. It’s a struggle dealing with misconceptions about #ownvoices and the importance of ceding space for marginalized creators to craft their own narratives. But the response has been so positive and nurturing. I’ve been overwhelmed by it.
cara: The biggest and hardest hurdle here is money. Upfront costs prove extremely difficult when you don’t have the startup capital. The Kickstarter was SUPER helpful! Beyond helpful! But because the amount of boxes for the first box was so much higher than anticipated, the majority of that money went to just that one box. So now the goal is to find funding for box two, three, and beyond, until there’s a good amount of cushion to purchase several months in advance.
Another difficult thing is space. This house is only so large, and right now with the high number of boxes we have to assemble for our launch, there’s SO MUCH stuff everywhere. Month two won’t be quite as cramped, but this is a good indication of the future when we have this many subscribers without the Kickstarter. And it’s a little overwhelming.
Finally, the worst for me is probably that I can’t duplicate myself to keep working when I’m tired. Sometimes I need a break! Sometimes I need rest! And when there’s only two of us, and one of us has an ongoing family issue, that means I’m left trying to get everything ordered, designed, and assembled, and to get all emails answered, pretty much on my own. That’s probably been the biggest source of stress for me. I’m not good at letting things just not be done when a deadline looms, especially if it’s something I’m super passionate about. My partner frequently tells me to sit down somewhere just so I don’t drive myself bananas.
Something that turned out easier than I thought it would has to be book acquisition. I really expected it to be an incredibly painful process in which I have to beg publishers for some kind of pity so they give me books on the cheap. But the reality is most publishers already have departments set up for this kind of thing, and the purchasing part has been a breeze.
- What has so far been your favourite thing about putting this venture together?
Adrianne: marginsbox combines so many of my interests: reading, talking about books, shopping, working with creative people. It’s so much fun learning about artists and authors and making thematic links between them. It feels a lot like the educational and programming work I’ve done in art museums where the goal is to expose people to inclusive ideas and viewpoints and provide safe spaces where they can engage with the work.
cara: I love shopping, and I love picking things out based on a theme, and I love books, so…Combined, this is my dream job (other than being a published author). It’s ridiculously fun highlighting things that I think will translate into something to add to a box. And it’s awesome to see so much new talent out there! There are a lot of debuts that I want to highlight and I’m sad I can’t make a box out of every book I read.
- What 2018 book would you recommend to everyone?
Adrianne: Ashley Woodfolk’s THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS. It serves up love, loss, and music as a healing agent, with amazingly lyrical writing from three very distinct and diverse points of view. Shay, Autumn, and Logan are characters that will stay with you long after you’ve read this book.
cara: In the last marginsbox interview, I recommended THE BELLES. This time, I’ll say Tahereh Mafi’s A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA. I didn’t read it until this year but it still counts. It’s a slow burn, like painful slow, and I love it so much. A rather surly Muslim girl finds herself entangled with an annoyingly persistent hot guy and I live for that kind of stuff. It was recently optioned! I’m extremely excited for the movie.
- What is your favourite book merchandise item?
Adrianne: I really love art so having original works inspired by books makes me happy. I also love enamel pins and buttons because they combine my devotion to art and accessories. Finally, candles are so awesome because I really dig scents.
cara: I like art prints a lot. Fan art is so personal and beautiful. I’m also really fond of mugs, even though I don’t drink coffee or use mugs for much of anything. And lastly, buttons and pins. I used to love these as a kid so I’m super glad they’re in vogue again!
Aren’t they both so amazing and hard-working? I am super excited to see what they have planned for marginsbox. You can bet I’ll be doing an unboxing on social media when mine arrives!
Don’t forget to check their social media out and get as excited as I am!