Jimmi and Duseigneur Sivia with their sons Atlas and Nalu.
A publishing company unlike any other is creating early learning resources for Tagata Samoa.
A husband and wife in the American city of Seattle, occupied Duwamish territory, are changing the world for Samoan parents through their business Pepe Faitau Book Co.
While pregnant with their first child Atlas, parents Jimmi Sivia (USA) and Duseigneur Sivia (Amouli) set out to find learning resources to ensure he was bilingual. The lack of early learning Samoan books shocked the couple who found the odd paperback, but no board books.
By the time they were pregnant with their second son Nalu, an entrepreneurial spark born out of necessity and hope led the couple to Mokiana Kamisese, the owner of My Little Tonga. Feeling encouraged,they set their sights on creating the first Samoan alphabet board book.
“When we found out we were expecting again with Nalu; it became very clear that we needed to do something. We want our boys to be fluent in both their native tongues,” says Sivia.
“Being the first is terrifying! It's risky in a way that you are vulnerable to an entire community that spans the globe but it’s exciting because there’s so much potential and opportunities.”
After their first experience in collaboration with Dalcetta Palepale who illustrated their first book Faitau Pi: The Samoan Alphabet and O Le Aso Na Vaai Ai Le Masina I Le La, the couple heard from a shop in Australia keen to support their journey.
While Pepe Faitau Book Co. was born with the vision of creating a single board book for their children to help them learn Gagana Samoa, it became so much more for the parent-founders.
“When Island Pepe in Australia reached out to us asking to stock our book- we knew there was a greater need,” says Sivia.
“Through this process we have met incredible Pasifika artists and businesses, we want to create resources for early learning as well as curate a collection of beautiful artwork from different artists within the Samoan community. Preserving the Samoan culture starts with uplifting Tagata Samoa.”
The future is bright with a collaboration on the cards with rising star Anna Mayo based in New York and market development both online and in-stores across Australia, New Zealand and soon the wider Pacific.
As for advice for aspiring Pacific publishers the Sivias are generous: “Please, join us in this space! If you have work you'd like to publish and don't want to do the behind the scenes work, we will help you just get in touch.”
"Pacific people deserve to be in literary spaces - if you have the desire and the work ethic to get it done - you will not fail!"
Nalu and Atlas Sivia with 'Faitu Pi' The Samoan Alphabet.
You can find out more about Pepe Faitau Book Co. here