Her passion project was put on hold when she was deployed for six months, but when she returned, so did her followers, and it inspired her to pursue her dream and grow her business.
Now that Nicolle is out of the Navy, she’s opening her first physical store tucked away behind Cultivate Jax in Riverside, and has a goal in mind.
“Our mission is to celebrate diversity and encourage reading for all. So we’re trying to stock as many books written by women and people of color who have historically been marginalized in the publishing industry,” Nicolle told News4JAX.
And its story follows a national trend.
A recent report from the New York Times found that 300 new independent bookstores have sprung up during the pandemic, and the owners of these businesses are branching out into a traditionally white industry.
“[In the New York Times story] these are bookstores owned by Asian American women who, you know, showcase their culture and the people around them in their communities. And so, hopefully that’s what I can bring to the community here in Jacksonville,” Nicolle said.
Nicolle is Filipino-American and has made sure to have stories reflecting her heritage on the shelves, like “Halo Halo” by Filipino author Justine Ramos.
“Seeing this interaction of people like picking up a book and seeing each other is just like, you can’t really explain it,” Nicolle said.
On the shelves, you’ll find more than 1,000 books, some of which are the same books some parents tried to pull from local school libraries, like “My Rainbow,” which features a black transgender character.
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“If you look at the books that were challenged, they ended up being the number one bestseller on Amazon within hours. So there’s, you know, an audience for people who want these books,” Nicolle said.
Femme Fire Books officially opens on Saturday with an event that runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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